Saturday, 28 February 2009

Extended Break

I know I haven't been posting, but its been school holidays and I was lazy. By that logic I should start posting again on Monday then, but my week, actually my four months,  haven't been the best and I don't feel to happy right now. No telling how long I'll feel this way because this is not an every day problem for me.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Taekwondo and its usefulness

UFC 95 happened over the weekend and it was a good one. The fight ended in spectacular ways and it was generally enjoyable to watch.

Every now and then I also download the older UFC events just to see what happened in the past, as I was never able to watch it in South Africa. It is interesting to see how MMA evolved.

I am up to UFC 51 already. At one point the two commentators  are discussing how the fighters entering the ring got started in MMA. This specific fighter was doing Taekwondo when a Brazilian Jiujutsu guy saw him and asked if he wanted to test his skills. Long story short, he dropped TKD, started BJJ and later fought in the UFC. Right after telling this the conversation went something like this...

Joe: It’s quite amazing to me that people are still doing Taekwondo, and this is coming from a guy who used to teach it for a living. I fought in many TKD tournaments and I used to teach at Boston University, and I think it is basically almost useless.

Co-commentator: You didn’t so back then thought, did you?

Joe: No, you learn. That’s that the UFC is about. Now we know what works.

That is basically my feeling about it. I have respect for the abilities of people who do TKD. No one can attack wooden boards like they do, but I just don't have enough respect  to do it myself. That is the main reason why I held out so long from doing a martial art here in Korea. However, I was in the dojang  two weeks after seeing Hapkido for the fist time.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Saturday, 14 February 2009

No ventilation needed.

"I watched her posing for her friend, at once pleasing to my left eye and repulsive to my right."

Otto Silver, Namsan Tower, 2009

Friday, 13 February 2009

In the shower, we will dream the seven sees.

Seven in the morning. Just a normal winter school day with the alarm intruding on my sleep. Except for the odd occasion when the alarm tune forms part of my dream, I wake up.

Waking up is the easy part. Did I mention its winter? Its freezing outside my warm covers and it takes serious willpower to throw the blankets off myself and get out of bed.

When I eventually manage this feat, I head over to my apartment's heat control panel. Hot showers in winter are generally preferable to cold showers.

I'm not completely awake, so deciding which of my two standard breakfasts to prepare takes some time…

Breakfast done, I sit down to eat, and listen to a podcast or watch some or other download.

While I'm eating I'm psyching myself up to get off the comfy chair, away from the electric heater and in to the shower. This is also known as waking up.

Because it's cold out side of the actual shower water area, I tend to stand there like a reptile, not moving from the warm spot and heating up as the water flows over my body.

This morning I noticed something strange. When I look down I see something protruding from the vicinity of my groin. I don't always notice it, but it's always there. This strange protrusion is mostly used for excreting fluid wastes, but it has the added benefit of being fun to play with. Too bad it is so strange looking.

This strange scene got me thinking. When I look down I think: "That wrinkly, dangly thing is weird," so do women ever look down and think: "Wow. Look at that. Those pointy, bouncy things are a bit weird, aren't they?"

Do Korean (East Asian) girls ever look down and think "I want no baaady, no baaady bah Jew! *Clap-Clap*,*Clap*", or any other irrelevant thought, because there is nothing sticking out?

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

happy love video Watching - The Pilot

Often I come across video clips that are just fun. Very often they have nothing to do with Korea. This raises the question, how do I make it relevant? I make it relevant by creating happy love video Watching, or more correctly, 헤피 로브 비디오 왓싱 (Haepee Lobbeu Beedee-o What-shing). This is the pilot episode, so suggestions for a better name will be appreciated.

Anything that makes me chuckle even a little might end up here, so without further ado:

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Oh, lucky me!

My favorite teacher, when it comes to all things that make Korea just the most amazing place ever devised since fire was discovered, informed me again today that I should count myself lucky to be living in Korea. Indeed?!

Why this time? Denjang Jigae, that’s why!

“How can THIS be the reason?” I hear you ask. Well, you see, off all the foods and substances in the world, this is the only dish that helps to prevent cancers. Yes, I kid you not. Eat this every day and you will never get cancer. Forget everything else that contains the same substances, the reasons for this jigae’s amazing power, because this is the only thing that works.

Now, for you lucky enough to live in Korea, go to bed and sleep well tonight. As for the rest of you, make sure you get to know your doctor very well.

Friday, 06 February 2009

Who do they think they are?

How dare those European Union people be unhappy about an unequal trade agreement? How dare they complain that Korea will benefit more from this than they will? HOW DARE THEY?

Tuesday, 03 February 2009

Take anything you want, again.

By now, most of us know this one:

(It is on my list of Pick-Me-Up videos.)

I was actually looking for that when I found this one:

Sunday, 01 February 2009

Up the Dons!

In news that is completely unKorean:

AFC Wimbledon 3 – 1 Chelmsford City

In clash for the top of the English Blue Square South table, AFC Wimbledon, my team, beat the long time league leaders Chelmsford City to overtake them and claim their place at the top.

I am pretty sure there are very few people in Korea who have ever heard of The Dons and I might well be the only supporter over here, but hey, it is nice to see them go top of the table. This is a club that had to start from scratch when the FA allowed Wimbledon FC to move to Milton Keynes. The supported started a new club and this club is shooting up the leagues, gaining promotion three times in 6 year, winning their leagues twice in a row, one with an unbeaten 2003-2004 season. As AFC Wimbledon they are raking in the honours. If things go as it is now, then we will get a 4th promotion in only 7 years, with 3 league titles to boot.

The Questionnaire

Just before the school year ended I was asked to complete this amusing survey. I studies in the social sciences and one of the things they hammer in to your hear is the importance of research methodology. You have to be very particular about your questions and the options you give as answers. If you confuse the participant, or you don’t have relevant answers, then your research is basically useless. It is because it is so easy to have just that in your questionnaire that people have their research accepted in to research journals so rarely.

I went though this one and I will add the thought I had in blue.

Questionnaire for Native Teachers of English

* Questions related to Personal background

In this section, questions about your background will be asked.

Please read the questions and mark or enter appropriate answers.


1. Present School Type:

  • Elementary School
  • Middle School
  • Academic High School
  • Vocational High School
  • Other (Foreign Language or Science…)


2. Nationality:

  • American
  • Canadian
  • British
  • Australian
  • New Zealander
  • Irish
  • South African
  • Other (Korean American, Chinese American, etc.)

(“This is MY United states of Korean America/Chinese America!” What is wrong with these people? How, in their minds, is Chinese American relevant?)


3-1. What other teaching experience have you had in Korea?

  • Other schools in Korea
  • Private institutes(Hakwon), Private kindergartens
  • Universities in Korea
  • Private or Public companies in Korea
  • Schools or Institutes in other country

(An option for NONE, maybe? How many of use are here for our first year?)


3-2. How long have you taught in other countries (Except Korea)?

  • More than 5 years
  • 3-5 years
  • 2-3 years
  • 1 month- less than two years
  • None

(“Well, you see, I worked at one place for two weeks before I was fired for having a local girlfriend, so, now, there is no option. What should I do”)


3-3 What qualification do you have for teaching English?

  • TESL
  • TEFL
  • Qualification of teaching
  • Other certificate

(Does the unmentioned DEGREE count as Other?)

* Profession related questions

In this section, questions about your profession will be asked.

Please read the questions and mark appropriate answers.


4-1. Are you satisfied with the training courses for native assistant teachers you received in Korea?

  • Very satisfied
  • Satisfied
  • Average(acceptable)
  • Not satisfied
  • Very dissatisfied

(What training courses?)


4-2. If you have not been satisfied with pre- or in- service teacher training courses you have received in Korea, what could be the reasons

  • Insufficient relevant information on my role and expectations of me.
  • Inadequate explanations on contract implication.
  • Lack of preparation time
  • Teaching methods/demonstrations
  • Others (ie: lecturing facilities, reaching material, practicum, food, time schedule…)

(Again, what training?)


5. What would you suggest be included in future training workshops?

The Korean teaching/education context and education system

  • Korean Culture
  • Explanation of contract
  • About Korean Students
  • The role of native English Teachers



6-1. What problems do you experience in your school work besides teaching? (you can select more than one)

  • Conflicts between supervisors and native teachers
  • Conflicts with Korean English teachers
  • Lack of relationship between other Korean teachers and native teachers
  • The role and status of native English teacher
  • Housing conditions and means of communication

(A few of these, but nothing abnormal. My main concern here was confidentiality. I am looking at the way this things is put together, not very professional looking and without a load of thought, and I have to wonder who is going to read it.)


6-2. What do you think about the payment system and your payment?

  • Very satisfied
  • Satisfied
  • Average
  • Not satisfied
  • Very dissatisfied

(Irrelevant. I agreed to the system when I signed my contract.)


7. Total number of classes you teach in a week?

  • Less than 16 hours
  • 16-18 hrs.
  • 19-21 hrs.
  • 22-24 hrs.
  • More than 25 hrs.

(25! I teach 25! Help me! I don’t know what to answer. Obviously it is not a difficult question to work out, but small details like this tell me that this was a rush job and that no one double checked it for them.)


8. Is the contact time you have with your students (regular class and frequency) sufficient to develop conversational English?

  • Very appropriate
  • Appropriate
  • Average (acceptable)
  • Not inappropriate
  • Very inappropriate

(You are kidding, right? 45 minutes a week with up to 40 students? Sure, other schools have smaller classes, but still, once a week for a language they don’t care about?)


9. Do you think that the contents of the English textbook of your school fit the needs (level, suitability of content and English conversation objectives) of the students?

  • Absolutely (100%)
  • Generally (~ 70%)
  • Sometimes (~ 50%)
  • Never
  • I don’t know

(Does it matter? The system does not truly care about the levels of the students. Age is their first concern. If you are not good enough then never mind, we will still put you through so you can be with students of your own age.)


10. How do you and the Korean co-teacher prepare and teach your lessons?

  • Prepare and teach together
  • Prepare together and teach alone
  • Prepare alone and teach alone
  • Prepare alone and teach together
  • Depending on the situation


11. What’s the ratio between your teaching hours and that of the Korean co-teacher?

  • Native 100%
  • Native 80%
  • Native 50%
  • Native 20%
  • Native 0%


12. How often do you receive feedback about your teaching in the lesson from your Korean co-teacher?

  • Always
  • Usually
  • Sometimes
  • Rarely
  • Never


13. If you have chosen ‘Sometimes, Rarely’ or ‘Never’, in the above question what do you think are the reasons?

  • Language difficulty between Korean and Native
  • Cultural differences
  • Personal differences
  • Too much school work
  • Other (ie: indifference, time limitation, much task of KT, lack of intimate terms…)

(Note how they first leave “Teacher” out and then becomes just KT Someone was getting tired of writing this, were they?)


14. Which is the most difficult thing when you teach in your school?

  • Inappropriate textbook and curriculum
  • Difference in philosophy to what is effective conversation teaching
  • Insufficient communication between K + N Teachers
  • Indifference of the students to learning conversation English
  • Exam focused education policy

(“Time to go home, but I HAVE to finish this. If only I wasn’t told about this two hours before the end of work!”)


15-1. Which role do you think you are supposed to play?

  • As a bystander
  • As a model for target language
  • As a co-teacher
  • As assistant teacher
  • As dominant teacher

(Who knows?!)


15-2. What kind of changes do you think are needed to improve English communicative competence in the team teaching? (you can select as many as you want to)

  • Class size
  • More suitable textbooks
  • English educational policy
  • The attitudes of Korean teachers
  • Extra time available to develop communicative competence

(Korean Culture! Korean Culture says English is a status symbol, not a language that can actually be useful. It is good for getting in to a good Uni, and it is good for putting useless English on products so you can sell more, but otherwise, why do it?)


I appreciate your voluntary participation. Just to reassure you again; the information gathered for this research will be kept confidential. Data will be stored securely and will be available only to the researchers. Thank you.

Do take note of the last bit. As soon as I handed over the paper, my co-teacher opened the questionnaire and started recording the answers on sheet that they can use for data collection. In other word, had I said anything bad about the school or my teachers, she would have known IMMEDIATELY! So much for confidential.