Wednesday, 29 April 2009

How Sweet

Yesterday was a rainy day here at in Two Thousand City. The morning started out fine, but there was lots of heavy drizzle, if I can call it that, in the afternoon. I knew it was going to rain, but because I did my normal thing of losing the house keys inside the house, I was going to be late for school if I didn’t take the bike, and my wet bike is what this post is about.

I was parked in a position where I could see my bike from my class window. I noticed that there were umbrellas in the area when my bike was suppose to be, but I didn’t really register what was going on. Only later when I walk out to leave school did I realized when I was greeted by this site:

I still don’t know who did this because they haven’t come to pick up their umbrellas, but it is the nicest thing anyone has done for me in a very long time

b.t.w. I had to recreate the scene because I didn’t have a camera with me at the time.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Am I unfair?

I’m doing oral tests this week. I do one table at a time and it takes about 5 minutes per table. Yes, I know it is not much of a test, but at least I am giving them a verbal test. Before I start I generally allow about 5 minutes for everyone to come to class and realize that they are actually doing a test. I also give one sheet of paper showing what I will be asking as a dialogue with a few blank spaces where they can substitute their own answers. Not exactly rocket science, is it? I give you the answers, you tell me the answers.

The first table obviously has less time than the rest, so I tend to be a bit more lenient, but as I go further I have less pity for the students who don’t know what is going on. In one class I got to the third table where two girls proceeded to go off because they didn’t know what to do with the blank spaces. They had 15 minutes to open their books at the indicated chapters, see what we did in class and then take two minutes to figure out an answer or two. Apparently that is just too much effort, which would explain the low effort scores.

Their low understanding scores come from the fact that while I was busy with the other students at the table, these two girls called over the Korean teacher, just to have her give them all the answers to the dialogue that is on their book. She even made sure they remembered it by running through it again.

Am I unfair to give these two girls low scores even thought their actual dialogue was done very well? Am I unfair to say that I was actually testing their teacher’s knowledge instead of theirs?

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Random Pictures

Why are only the female teaches allowed to wear cool clothes. Why do we have to wear real shirts?




They say that only crazy people can draw perfect circles. This prove that at least one Korean is not crazy, and by the look of it he has a very long way to go.




Why on earth would my mother's fingers make food more appealing? If it was my girlfriend's fingers, maybe, but my mother's?


Wednesday, 15 April 2009

My poor students

Oh dear! My students study so hard every day, just to eat beef and die.

You have a class


First Period: One Class
Second Period: Second Class
Third Period: Third Class
Fourth Period: Fourth Class


Fifth Period: Fifth Class
Six Period: Sixth Class

Sixth class and school finish 3:00 pm

When was I told about my new conversation class with the teacher at 3:30?

Go on, guess, but be nice.
Beginning of the Fourth Period.

What should I do in the class and what are the levels of the students?
Do anything you want. Low or unknown.

Looking Good

Korea looking good in the outside world again, being an example of what you need to run as a Democracy.

Another English teacher caught with drugs

Does this mean he is not a Korean any more, like the “Foreigner who killed the Korean”, who turned out to have killed a Chinese national from Korean decent, him being a Korean national? I mean, this grower IS an English teacher.

Another investor on the go.

Does this mean the Won will fall even lower against the Dollar? Good job I’m not American. (Bad job I’m South African. Through this whole drop, the Rand has stayed stable against the Won, meaning it was dropping like a rock against the Dollar.)

Go YouTube

YouTube Korea will block you from uploading or commenting on stuff. They do this because they refuse to implement the real name system the ROK government demands. The work around? Click that little link at the top right that says "South Korea" and change the country. WOW, I feel so much saver!

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

New Kids on the Block

I popped in to the phone shop yesterday, and wouldn’t you know it, they had a Nokia on display. I looked at it and said, mostly to myself: “Oh, a Nokia!” I looked up at the assistant only to have him look at me with an expression of “Of course it is a Nokia, what else would it be?” By his expression you would have thought that Korean phones were the new kids on this block.

Speaking of New Kids on the Block, did you know they have an official web site with flash and everything? The news section was updated yesterday, nogal. All I can say it “WOW!” According to, they started a comeback around August last year.

For a giggle, have a look at their song Step by Step.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Seolbong Cherry Blossoms

On Saturday we had a Hapkido belt test. This was no normal belt test. For one thing, we had no idea what the not heaven was going on. Together with our sister gym, we rented a huge hall and had all the students do their stuff with some important people watching. Seems to me it was more of a show off than anything else.

We only started practicing some of the black belt kicks on Monday. Some of the kick sequences were up to 6 kicks long with 3 kinds of spinning kicks. If you consider that most of us Teachers are still struggling with single spinning kicks, then you begin to see the problem involved. Sadly enough, on the day of the test our biggest problem was not that we couldn’t do the kicks, but more that we didn’t know the order and could not follow the Korean instructions.

The whole things ended up being a royal intercourse up as far as us waegoogs were concerned. I thought I would let the other students do their moves and then quickly follow, but the instructor let us go through everything so quickly that I never had time to catch up, and thus was unable to do most things in any recognisable way. The other Teachers in front of me didn’t even have the luxury of waiting because of where they were positioned on the floor. It was just plain embarrassing.

There is one good thing that I can say of my own performance. I nailed the forward jump fall without any injury. The Man Who Will Not Be Named claimed he knew how to do this move. Apparently, when I missed my one day of training last month, everyone managed to do about 50 of these flips, so he is really good at is. Interesting that the one time I saw him try to do it, AFTER that one day of, he looked like a retard. I am not claiming I am good, but at least I have the sense to admit when I suck, and that is a good thing because I suck most of the time. Buddy tries to give the impression that he is Bruce Lee or something, but the 50 rolls thing crossed the line in to straight out lying. I know that they didn’t do any falls on that day because I would have been told. It is not the easiest thing and the others would have bragged that I missed my chance and that they are now going to make me look bad. It’s all in good humour. Anyway…

After this weird hapkido thing we went to Seolbong Park to have a look at the cherry blossoms. I was quite surprised by the amount of trees there. When they grow up it will look really good. Here are a few pictures for your viewing pleasure.

Thursday, 09 April 2009

Tongue Twister Time

I have a week or so to kill before I want to do a speaking test, so I decided to have a Tongue Twister competition this week. I find that tongue twisters force students to focus on their pronunciation of specific sounds, and with a reward on offer the students like this much more than normal studies.


This week I will be doing these five tongue twisters:

1. Six sick slick slim sycamore saplings

Many Koreans seem incapable is making the ‘See’ sound. They will often, some always, pronounce it as ‘She’. It has to do with the peculiarity in the Korean language where you the ‘S’ sound inexplicably turns in to a ‘Sh’ when it followed by an ‘Ee’ vowel sound.

2. Toy boat. Toy boat. Toy boat.

Many Koreans, I feel, are lazy with regards to words like ‘Boat’. They very often pronounce it as ‘Bot’. I know they can say it correctly, but they prefer to just fall back on to what is comfortable. Also, to teach enunciation, I expect them not to come and ramble “Toy Bow, Toy Bow, Toy Boat.”

3. Red Lorry. Yellow Lorry. x 3

Aaaah! ‘R’ vs ‘L’. Most Koreans can say a useful version of both, but for the most part they consider it to be the same sound. They don’t seem to realise that in their own language it is ‘R’ at the beginning of a syllable and “L” at the end, but once I write it down in a weird form of Hangeul, they are suddenly able to pronounce it, yet still insist it is the same sound.

4. Three free throws. x 3

There are two important sounds here, but I usually pick just one to focus one, the ‘Th’ or the ‘F’. I personally feel that the ‘F’ is more important because many a native English accent messes with the ‘TH’ sounds and most English speaking people can understand the variations without problem. ‘F’ turning in to a ‘P’ is not a good idea though.

5. How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
A woodchuck would, if a woodchuck could, chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could.

This is my slightly modified version of the twister. Because there is no true ‘W’ sound in Korean, Koreans often just don’t say it. Words like “Wood” will come out ‘ood’. They don’t seem to have the same problem when “W” is followed by vowels other than ‘o’. Interesting that.


As rewards I have one small packet of chocolate chip cookies for the student who can say number five the fastest, and I give one piece of candy to every student who can say the first four correctly. With the first four I am on the lenient side, listening carefully if they get most correct, at least.

Tuesday, 07 April 2009

Icheon Baeksa Sansuyu Flower Festival

This weekend we went to the Icheon Baeksa Sansuyu Flower Festival. Quite a mouth full for very little. To be fair, it was not much IF you went with the expectations that there would be lost of flowers to look at.

The flower that all the fuss was about, Sansuyu, roughly translated as Mountain Beast Milk, is a little yellow flower that booms on the trees in that area. It does give a yellow tint to the trees, but that is about it. If you weren’t aware that you were supposed to look at them you would just miss them altogether.

Sunday was a beautiful day and I am pretty sure that just made it all the better for the real reason the festival was being held. The real reason, in my humble opinion, was to have a singing competition, a martial arts demonstration and stalls that all sell the same Makoli. I am pretty sure if I understood more Korean, and I could enjoy the competitions and related activities, this little festival would have been a blast. Maybe, maybe, some day.

Like I said, the day was a disappointment, but that is because I went for photos and only managed to get four photos of interest and only one decent one of an actual flower:

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

Thursday, 02 April 2009

North v.s. South

Last night was one of the biggest derby matches in the footballing world. Big in the sense that usually an international football mach is just that, an international match. With the North-South game however, you can kind of argue that it is a country playing against itself.

Four of us decided to trek to Seoul to watch our first ever match with the national team. Some people were there just to see the commies.

All in all it was a nice experience with the South victorious. The last few games between these two team ended in 0-0 draws, so it was nice to see a result. I predicted that it would be a 1-0 score because the South had the home game, so kudos to me.

The game was quite boring in the first half because the North just parked and defended on the side of the pitch where were not at. Don’t you love that pain on the neck other side of the pitch feeling?

I was impressed with the crowd. They weren’t overly patriotic, but at the same time they weren’t very appreciative of general good shows. I’m the kind of supporter who want my own team to be blown up for a hand ball, or whatever it might be at the time, when it is the right decision. Here, however, only your own team’s good point and the other team’s bad point are seen. Granted, many countries do this so maybe I am just spoiled with the fans in Pretoria. Sure, we boo the other team, but it is more to intimidate them than to be downright mean. If they do something really good there will always be a courtesy applause as a response.

I would have liked to give you an amazing post with amazing descriptions and insightful analysis, but I am just not that good, so I will leave it here with a few photos.

p.s. You know how you say “Hundred miles an hour” to mean fast? Your taxi home actually did that. Do you know that there is a warning bell for when your speedometer hits 160 km/h?