Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Jong Suk's Wedding

On Saturday, 24 November I attended a wedding in Gangnam. It was one of the 4th grade teacher's (Jong Suk). We had a countdown in the Grade 4 teacher's room till her big day... she was so excited and nervous days before the wedding - and yet, she still taught right up till Friday!

I was very excited about going to my first Korean wedding, even though it wasn't traditional.
Weddings here are held in wedding / convention halls. In fact, my apartment building is neighbour to the wedding hall in my area! When I go out during week-ends, I often pass many wedding parties, but have never been inside the building.

After attending Jong Suk's wedding, I decided that one day ...when I get married, I want to have two weddings - one which will be in Korea at a wedding hall! *^^* As my friend, Rachel told me - Korean weddings happen really quickly. 123 and it's over!

When we arrived at the venue, another wedding was just ending. A few minutes later, we were in the same venue sitting in on Jong Suk's wedding. Before she walked down the aisle, she was in the Bride Room having photo's taken and being fussed over.

This pic (of the Bride Room) was taken after the wedding

Here, Jong Suk is being fussed over by her mother & mother-in-law,
who are dressed in traditional Hanbok's

I think bride's really feel like princesses on their big day!

At this desk, guests deliver their monetary gifts and sign the guestbook.
You also receive a meal ticket which you take upstairs to the buffet section where guests enjoy lunch after the ceremony. The TV screen on the wall is the lineup of weddings for the day!

Where the actual ceremony took place

During the ceremony

The ceremony could also be watched on the projector

After the ceremony, photo time with the family

The wedding cake

The glass aisle

Upstairs in the buffet section

The foyer of the wedding hall

Monday, November 26, 2007

Hi Sweet Home - 2nd visit

My internet has been down for the past few days - but I'm back online ^^

Last Thursday, I had my second Hi Sweet Home visit. I visited the home of one of my 5th grade students. She has a brother in 2nd grade and I was welcomed so warmly into the family's home. I was so surprised when three of my other students joined the little party with their mum's! ... they all live in the same apartment building!

The language barrier was not as severe as the previous visit. We talked about many things - Korea/South Africa...we laughed, and I got invited to a birthday party in December! I had such a great time with them...

Monday, November 19, 2007

First time snow...

After school today, I went winter shopping - I know, I left it till the very last minute ...but over this past w'end, the Korean winter suddenly became extremely brutal. Walking to school this morning, my hands were numb. So I managed to buy a jacket, coat, gloves etc...

I was walking to the bus stop to come home, and this man who was smoking passed me. I thought his cigarette ash flew in my face BUT it was actually the first bits of snow that was falling! I was giddy with joy and excitement, calling my friends while I was riding the bus home.

This is from the bus:

This is a snowflake that fell on my window in the bus:

Kids catching the first bits...

Near my apartment...

My apartment window

Yes - only I would take a video of my first snow sighting :P

Friday, November 16, 2007


I noticed that if I said the word, "something" to my classes - they giggle and repeat, "sumseen".

I was confused - why was "something" so funny? I still don't know if I understand, but my co-teacher said that the English word, "something" sounds like a Korean word for a term used when a man and woman go out etc...

Then, if I ask questions and I say "tell me.... ", they start chanting, "tell me tell me ....t t t t t tell me". This happened in every single class. And I've finally realized what it is. There's a popular song sung by a Korean group called "Wonder Girls"...and in one of their songs, the chorus goes, "Tell me, tell me ...t t t t t tell me!" (the only English bit in the song).

...and today, with my Grade 5's, I was teaching them vocabulary relating to a phone call (conversation, dial, pick up, hang up etc...). I was trying to explain that a conversation happens between the "caller" and "receiver". They found this hilarious and couldn't stop laughing.

Why? "caller" sounds like "cola" as in Coca Cola (Coke) LOL

Eensy Weensy Spider...

Since my Kindergarten class perfected "Head, shoulders...knees and toes", I thought it was time for them to learn something new. My friend, Natalie suggested "Eensy weensy spider". I introduced this last week, but realized that "climbed up the water spout" was too difficult for them... so I changed it to "ran up the water spout".

The Kindergarten teacher wrote the English lyrics in in Korean for the children so that it made it easy to pronounce... and when I taught them yesterday, I was so impressed that they had improved! They were doing it with actions and everything...

Grade 2's

One of the Grade 2 teachers told me that every time her students see me in the corridors, they go back and tell her that I greeted them. She says they want to talk to me, but they can only say "hi" or "hello!" They are sooo cute!

She was going to teach a new section to the class ... all about "Famous things in Korea", so she wanted me to record a video message for the class saying that I want to learn about all the famous things in Korea.. she thought that it would be motivation for the class to want to study the section more... so that they could tell me (the foreign teacher) about all the famous monuments etc that this country has.

The video was shown at the Grade 2 Open Class and to thank me for the favour, the teacher gave me cake and the children wrote letters to me ... each one about something famous in Korea (example - the greeting, famous ice skaters, swimmers etc...).

This is what it looked like:

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Disciplining & Rewards...


I've come up with something new with my classes... I tell them if I see them using their cellphones, I will use it to call my family in Na-ma-gong (South Africa!) *^^*

...Now, I count down from 5 to 0 ...if they have not settled by the time I get to zero, the lesson will be boring and we won't play games...

If I have to ask them repeatedly to be quiet, I say one of two things:

1) They will get homework, which will have to be signed by their parents
2) I will call their homeroom teacher to deal with them

It's hilarious - the class is absolutely quiet after I've used these lines!


I bought a really cute square box from a stationery store, and filled it with Hershey Kisses. When it's time for questions in my classes, I have this box passed around while music is playing. (like "Pass the Parcel"). When the music stops, the student holding the box must stand and answer a question. If it's answered correctly, he/she gets to open the box and have a Kiss. I started this today... needless to say, I had kids follow me after class begging me, "Please teacher - kiss kiss kiss!"

Happy Call

I started another new program today called Happy Call. Every Tuesday & Thursday @ 5pm, I have to call 3 students at home (from different schools) and chat to them for a few minutes. The topics are already set out for me...since today was the first one, it was general greetings. Afterwards, I have to evaluate the call - easy...just ranking the student's confidence over the phone etc...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Hi Sweet Home

Elementary teachers in my city have to partake in a program called "Hi Sweet Home" where the English teacher visits the home of one of his/her students to meet the family.

Today I went on my first visit. It was a bit awkward at first, because of the language barrier. The mum was so kind and prepared various fruits, bread and juice for me. Her youngest son brought out various objects from his room to ask me the English name for them (dinosaur, soccer ball etc...). They were very hospitable and I was given a fantastic wall chart map of Korea.

Beyonce in Seoul!

Rachel and I were chatting away about nothing in particular... it was already past 8, and the show hadn't started yet. We both agreed that the concert tickets were pretty expensive so she had better be damn good!

All of a sudden, the auditorium lights went out and we just heard screams around us. And there she appeared. Strutting her stuff across the stage was BEYONCE! Now I'm not a die-hard fan, but I do appreciate good music, dancing and beauty. What I love about her is that she doesn't conform to the skeletal figures of today's pop stars. The woman has curves....and she aint afraid to flaunt it! She sang all her top hits... she was energetic and in my opinion - more beautiful in real life. Her stage presence was electric and Rachel & I both think it was worth every cent!

Beyonce singing Baby Boy

...singing Ring the Alarm / Beautiful LIar

...singing Independent Woman / Bootylicious
As she broke into Bootylicious, she ripped the silverish dress she had on, revealing a nude-colour body suit with only the silver top...

Lesson Update

With my Grade 4, 5 and 6 classes, there is a curriculum that I have to follow. My co-teachers are great because they allow me to spice things up and sometimes I create my own lessons from scratch. But I still keep the main objective of the chapter in mind.

For example, for my Grade 6 classes, we had a chapter called - "Will you help me, please?" and I made it into a Shrek theme. For Grade 5, when I taught past tense, I had a Tom & Jerry theme. (Kids here love T & J).

For my Kindergartens, I'm teaching them "Eensy Weensy spider..." ("itsy bitsy" was too difficult for them.) And I'm teaching them with my special needs class.

For the after school Hope Start program, I covered "shapes" and for an activity, we drew Spongebob Squarepants (another very popular character here). Just look at what a fantastic teaching aid this little character can be - look at all the circles, squares, rectangles etc there are! Needless to say, the kids loved it!

Pepero Day

Pepero sticks are like the chocolate-dipped pretzel sticks we get in South Africa. The maker's of this popular snack in Korea invented "Pepero Day". It is celebrated on November 11 because the numerical date (11/11) resembles four Pepero sticks! On this day, people give Pepero boxes to their lovers and friends (almost like a Valentine's Day?!)

Because Pepero Day falls on a Sunday this year, kids at school exchanged Peporo boxes on Friday. I was really spoiled because I received Pepero gifts from my students and a few teachers.

General update

This has been such a busy week! I teach over 30 classes a week and in between teaching time, I still have to lesson plan and attend meetings - and deal with other necessary admin. Am I still enjoying teaching? YES! There hasn't been a day where I don't want to go to work. The children are so beautiful and the staff at my school are all wonderful people. I feel very lucky.

Back home (in SA), my brother - DJ DAMAGE had his 3rd ultimix played on 5FM. Just like his other 2, I absolutely loved it and it included some of my favourite songs. I'm very proud of him!

Hindu's around the world celebrated Diwali (Festival of Lights). My family didn't celebrate this year, because of death's in our family. Speaking of which, next month will mark the one year anniversary of my uncle who lost his life while he was on holiday with his family in the Philippines.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Losing a cellphone: SA vs SK

Losing a cellphone in South Africa:

Two years ago, I lost (I guess now I can say it was stolen) my two-week old cellphone on campus. I panicked and backtracked trying to figure out where it was. I called my number, but it just rang. When I called again, the phone had been switched off. I blocked my sim card immediately...but I managed to find out that the person who "picked" up my cellphone had the audacity to make NINE (yes, 9) phone calls from MY phone! I remember being unable to sleep that night...something so personal of mine was in someone else's hands...all my contacts and text messages... gone. I filed a report at the police station, but obviously I was unsuccessful.

Moral of the story: When you "lose" a cellphone in South Africa, spend only 10 minutes looking for it. Because I can assure you - it's gone for good...

Losing a cellphone in South Korea:

This afternoon I tried calling one of my co-teachers on her cellphone, but a man answered the phone. I thought perhaps I dialed the wrong number. I handed the phone to one of my other co-teachers to speak Korean to the person, but we just left it at that - I had dialed the wrong number.

When I eventually met the teacher I was looking for, I told her what happened. She panicked. She thought her cellphone was in her handbag! Clearly it wasn't. We called her number again and the same man answered. This is what happened.

My co-teacher went to a holiday farm over the week-end and must have dropped her phone on the dirt road. Someone picked it up and decided to keep it till the owner called for it. He and my co-teacher talked for a few minutes. He told her that I was the first person to call the number, but he couldn't understand me. And he was very surprised that the owner hadn't called to claim it yet.

I couldn't believe this: He was concerned that her cellphone battery was going to die, in which case no calls would be received, so .... He charged her cellphone for her! The two made plans to meet tonight, and thankfully co-teacher will have her cellphone back.

Moral of the story: When you "lose" a cellphone in Korea, don't worry - you're almost sure to get it back :)