Student tests, teacher down time


Korean students, in general, do too many tests. From my perspective as a ‘non-teacher’ they don’t really learn. Rote learn but they simply have no time to assimilate what they’ve taken in. “Do they really understand what they’ve learnt?” In terms of spoken English I’d have to give a ‘no’. The speaking tests I’ve just had with them were a case in point.The question sheet, which I gave them in advance, was so that they could learn the form. What got in response from the students was a canned answer. Some of the students, but the others didn’t fair any better in terms of understanding the form.

I found that I could get the students to ask each other the test questions. In that instant, it become a communicative test question and not simply a closed question asked by me. I say this because in the past it was just me and a student going through the questions. Even then there would other students in the room, whispering in de-sotto voices the answers. I don’t exactly discourage this for two reasons: The learning doesn’t stop even when I’m testing; and, even student deserves a fighting chance. Can you speak (English)? Can you speak along the lines of the questions? Suffice to say my goal isn’t really to generate grades or marks, which my supervisor would really have me do, but it’s a test of competence. Even when I hand my supervisor the grades, it’s doesn’t really contribute in any major way. The proportion is too small. It’s like adding a grain of sand to a pile of sand. From an activity point of view, speaking tests are easy to administer, giving me lots of spare time to make lesson plans and the like.

Christmas tradition, ginger cookies, custard and cake

Christmas day, was spent at a fellow native speakers apartment. There was a bunch of us there. Dinner was a stuffed chicken with gravy, mashed pumpkin, mashed potato, steamed broccoli and even some salad chucked in for good measure.

I was able to redeem my Paris Baguette points for a (semi) free cake. It was eaten with home made custard. Yummy. To top it of, we were given a small plate of ginger cookies, with a small chocolate tucked away amongst them. I can sense a tradition when I see it.

EPIK renunion, the fear and the loathing

I actually said yes to going to the workshop conference. It meant time off going to class and a free trip to Seoul. The downside was that most of the conference ran over into the Saturday. But there were upsides, I got to meet up with Al again after quite along time, and also I was awarded, (along with 25 or so other people with time in Korea, totalling over 3 years) an award. It was very nice, I likened it to car hubcap mounted onto a wooden shield.

The timetable for the conference was gruesome to behold. Lectures on cultural differences being taught by a fictional mass murderer, comedy skit show put on by volunteer native teachers, and a trip to see ‘Jump’, a Korean drama based around a martial art medium. Al, had decided to jump from seeing ‘Jump’, and instead had had some donner kebabs. A timely decision.

But what I was really hanging on for was the trip to Namsan tower. Perhaps the highest point in Seoul offering the best vista.

Nope. Even that was dissappointing. The long awaited photo-shoot up Namsan tower run aground on the account of Seoul air quality.

I have to say that I left the conference (with the remaining HobNobs in my backpack) feeling less intelligent than when I went in. Even without the cursary lecture (the veteran teachers were excused), it was a brain-sapping exercise.

Mercenary position taken, random scrawlings, am I going in circles?

I was offered, and, I accepted a job at a technical high school (thereafter known as ‘Semi-conductor High school’). Teaching two hours every Thursday for 50k an hour. It would mean about a 45 minute trip, all-up just to get there.

“How long do they want me?” was my question. A polite shrug from my KET was the response. If the new guy coming in is too green, and if they like me… well it’s mine for as long as I please. Teaching in the countryside lends to a very workman like regime.

The type of insurgent, I’ve dealt with before, and with the promise of a KATUSA at my side, I began to turn over possible lesson plans in my mind.

Too tired, too blasé

DSC03658Sent on a teachers’ workshop for two days. Unwilling I might add but not under protest. The first part was actually watching an open class and giving feedback.

Some people (the Native speakers) were easy to talk to, and some of whom I could make friends of, and some of them I took an instant dislike to.  The resort we all stayed at had no beds, just floor bedding. It’s traditional you know.  With all of these get-togethers there’s always drinking involved. Cut to 2am. Some one had too much to drink, had forgotten where his room was and was noisily trying to find his room, with a sober friend in tow. What an idiot this guy was. Handle your liquor better next time, bud.

Tired and increasingly irritable at my colleagues, I passed on learning an instrument, instead preferring to pass out on the floor to get a nap. I wasn’t the only one who showed bold-face disinterest.