Monday, July 31, 2006
Hey, Sports Fans!
As a follow-up to what I mentioned in Friday's post about podcasting, it turns out the students had a lot of difficulties finding recording equipment to create these, so it looks like we won't be using these in this course. However, it's interesting how some of the students are responding to my blog. At first, I wasn't sure if I wanted to include them in my blog audience. I thought if I did that I might have to censor what I write. However, what's been interesting is the way that they position themselves as cultural experts in responding to the various places I've seen or activities I've done in Pusan. For example, one of the students from the N class has volunteered at an orphanage before, so she has firsthand experience that she shared about my experience at the orphanage yesterday. Something else that's interesting that's come out of the students' interaction with my blog is one of the students from the P class has started his own blog. He said that he's familiar with the concpet of blogging in Korean; however, he's very interested in learning English through this medium, so he's started his own in English.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
Visit to an Orphanage
Today I went with a group of five others from our fellowship to play with some of the kids at an orphanage that the group does ministry for at various times throughout the month. The orphanage is supported financially by private donations, which go to buy computers, books, toys, clothes and food for the kids. There are about 70 kids living in this particular orphanage, and about 12 kids share one apartment. Each apartment has four rooms, one for the kids to sleep in, one to play in and one to study in. The other is for the social worker who lives with the kids for part of the week (another comes and lives with them for the other part of the week). There is also a bathroom and small kitchen in the apartments. Kids of various ages live together in the apartments, but girls are on one floor and boys are on a separate floor. Those in the group who had been to the orphanage before didn't know how long the kids had been there or how they had come there. Since adoption is not very common in Korea, the kids will more than likely stay in the orphanage until they're 18. At that time, I was told by one of my students who did tutoring in an orphanage before, the kids are given money to study at the university for one semester. After that, they are on their own to find the money to continue and/or get a job. I was quite surprised at the conditions the kids are living in. I thought that they would be a lot worse, but it seemed that the kids had lots of toys and books and computer access. On the way out, we saw some kids learning handbells, and someone in our group told me that the kids also are given the opportunity to go to private institutions, which are very popular throughout Korea, to study various subjects. While there, I had the opportunity to meet and play with many of the kids and observe how they live and spend their time. The girls were quite active with drawing and reading; the boys were more interested in watching Tom and Jerry. ;) Despite the hot temperatures we're experiencing and the fact that the orphanage is not air conditioned, I had a great time spending time playing and reading with the kids. Next weekend we're taking them to the beach.
Friday, July 28, 2006
A Week of Experiments
Another experiment I tried this week was with podcasting, which is like blogging, but it's done with audio files. I introduced students to it yesterday and today and gave them their first assignment, which is to record advice they would give to a foreigner on how to get accustomed to living in Korea. The purpose of including podcasting as one of the daily assignments is to have a recording of each student's speech that can be accessed at any time to determine pronunciation, (spoken) grammar, etc. troublespots in order to better help the students improve their spoken English. The first podcast is due on Monday, but I'm not sure if this is going to work. Most students don't have access to a microphone or an MP3 player that records. I'll blog more on this later.
Yesterday we started the topic of culture and talked about it in a general sense; today we talked about race and ethnicity. I found that these two topics generated some interesting class discussions, particularly in regards to issues of discrimination in the Korean culture about workers from SE Asian cultures and illegal immigrant workers.
With the end of our second week we've also seen an end to the rain. Yesterday and today we had blue skies and white fluffy clouds. But in exchange for the rain, we now have some heat. I still haven't figured out what I like more - rainy or hot days. ;)
Pusan at Night
After dinner, Charm and I visited the Pusan Tower. From the top, we could see all of Pusan by night. The Tower was constructed in 1972. At the top, there is a brief history of several of the sights that can be seen from there, such as the port and the bridges that connect various parts of Pusan. On the way down in the elevator, we met a friendly Korean guy who was taking pictures at the top with a pretty expensive camera. He offered to show us his work. He said that he was an amateur and had been taking pictures of Pusan for most of the day. He was there visiting his parents for a couple of days. The pictures in this posting are what he took and shared with us.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Today the N class invited me to have lunch with them in the classroom after our lesson. Upon my acceptance, they immediately introduced me to the concept of ordering food and having it delivered to the classroom. Pretty neat! We had mil myun, which is a cold wheat noodle dish that was introduced to the Korean menu during WWII. The students told me that this was more popular than nang myun, another cold noodle dish but made from buckwheat noodles, because it was cheaper. This can only be found in Pusan.
The students ordered our noodle lunch at the beginning of our class, and around the end of class, the delivery guy showed up with a metal container full of metal bowls with "dry" ingredients for the soup along with bottles of vinegar and hot sauce and a few side dishes. The soup broth he poured in before he passed out the bowls to everyone. When we were finished eating, we left the bowls piled in the hallway for the delivery guy to return for later.
Pusan Photo Album
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Today in class we did a couple of follow up activities. One of these was about yesterday's experiential learning activity. The other was about part of the Simpsons episode we watched last Friday in class. How I had students discuss yesterday's activity was I put them in groups with students who were absent and had them share what they experienced and how this helped them with their English. The feedback that I got about the activity was mixed. Some of the students said that it was a good chance to get to know the teachers and other students better and to practice their English. Some also said they liked the chance to learn to talk about their surroundings in English. Others, who didn't like the activity, thought it didn't provide enough time for them to talk with the teachers because there were so many students. Also, they seemed to need a bit more structure to practice using English, like what's found in the classroom. One student had an interesting observation about the students in group P. He said that they seemed almost like native speakers when they spoke in English and that he was a bit envious of them.
If we were to do this again, we would need to change a couple things. First, I think it would be better to solicit from the students places they think would be interesting to go to practice their English. Second, we would need to provide students with more vocabulary to talk about the experience. This was one of the criticisms that a couple students in the N and U classes had. They didn't feel that they had the vocabulary to talk about their experience in English. Finally, in order to provide structure for those students who need it, we should come up with some discussion questions that we could ask students, particularly those who are more reticient to speak, while doing the activity.
Overall, the teachers were quite happy with how the activity went yesterday. However, I don't think it's common for university students to do this, so that may be another reason why there was some resistance to the idea.
The other follow-up activity we did today was role plays with the dialogs students created with key words from part of the Simpsons episode we watched last Friday in class. Students brought in their dialogs to class today. I gave them time in class to go over these with a partner or two, depending on how many persons they had in their dialogs, and then they performed them for the entire class. It was interesting to see how creative the students were with this and how talented they are in performing (see pictures). All of the classes did very well with this assignment. I was particularly impressed with how students in the P group had fun playing around with the language. Samples from all three classes can be viewed on the Creative Conversations Showcase blog.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Today we had our first experiential learning activity. We met the students at Beomeosa, one of the famous Buddhist temples in Pusan, and first did a nature hike, then saw the temple. It was predicted to rain today; however, when we woke up, there were blue skies and sun, but it wasn't too hot.
The purpose of doing this was to have students practice their English in a relaxed setting.
Many of the students who are reticent to speak in class were quite active in talking with others, including the teachers, in English. This activity also opened up the possibility for students to talk about anything, rather than being constrained to the theme of the day. Also, it gave them the chance to get to know their classmates and students in the other classes better.
Shakespeare in the Park (Korean Style)
(More) Pictures in the Park
Lunch at Beomeosa
Eun-A (P class) and Hyo-Eun (N class) were two students I ate with. The food was served cafeteria style; the menu was seaweed soup, rice, and four types of panchan (sidedishes) - kimchi, cucumber kimchi, beansprouts, and a chopped green vegetable. Each food was put in it's own place on the metal trays seen in the picture. The dining hall was divided into two parts - one with tables and one without. We sat in the room without, which is more the traditional Korean style of eating. After eating, we took the metal trays to the kitchen and washed them along with our spoons and chopsticks ourselves. Then we took them to one of the workers for inspection. Unfortunately, I did not pass inspection the first time. There was a small bit of rice stuck to the tray, so I had to return and rewash the tray. I passed the second inspection. :)
Monday, July 24, 2006
Meaning Under Construction
As I was on my way to school today, a small bus full of children drove past and they were all saying hello, hello, hello. I was so deep in thought that I didn't hear it at first, but then I realized what they were saying and had just enough time before the bus disappeared to turn, smile and wave to them. This resulted in a cacophony of giggles.
Today in all three classes, we reviewed the part of the Simpsons episode on families and foster homes we watched in class last Friday. To get them warmed up and to help me learn their names, we did a quick warm-up activity where I picked three students and asked them how their weekend was. That went well in all three classes. Then, as a review activity, we did a circle description. Each student had to give a one sentence description of the sitcom we watched. They had to listen to what the previous speaker said and connect their description to that. Also, there couldn't be any gaps in the descriptions. All three classes did quite well on this. In the P class, some students interrupted the descriptions to go back and fill in the missing details. In the U class, I gave questions to the students to help them have something to say. This was also a good comprehension check to see where students' gaps in knowledge and lack of understanding were.
After we finished the circle description, students completed the cloze exercise they were working on in class last Friday. In small groups, they compared answers and worked on constructing meaning from the context of the sitcom transcript. There were some pretty interesting discussions that resulted from this, including some interesting questions, such as the use of formal and informal language and culture and language.
In regards to culture and language, I was able to use my experience with trying to figure out the English word for the Korean word kae bul to explain the point that learning a language is also learning about another culture. BTW, even the students in the P class didn't know what this meant, although there were a couple students who looked on the Internet. One found the Latin word - urechis unicinctus. (Dad, any idea what this is in English?) Another found a blog on kae bul.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Worship and Fellowship Pusan Style
Last week we didn't make it to the service on time because Min Cheol thought it started at 10:30am when it actually started at 10:00am. Today we made it on time.
The service today was really interesting in that it reflected the vision of the church, which is a strong international missions focus. Today's service included commissioning several missionaries to go to the Phillipines, Cambodia, and Canada.
After the service, I attended one of the fellowship group Bible studies. Since this church is so large, they emphasize the importance of joining a small group. The name of the group I'm now a part of is Living Stones. Today we met at one of the co-leader's apartments. Afterwards we went to a nearby department store that had a food court on the ground floor and had lunch together. This was a great time to get to meet Korean and other expats living in Pusan and attending the church. After having lunch, we went to Starbucks for a drink and more conversation. (For those of you who know I boycott Starbucks, all I had was water.) Again, this was a great time to meet others and find out more about their experiences living and working in Pusan.
I also was able to get some more information about the orphanage ministry this group has just started. Last Sunday was their first activity with children from the orphanage. Members of the group took the children to an indoors playground and just spent time talking and playing with the kids. Next Sunday, we'll be going to the orphanage to play with the kids. I'm really looking forward to this opportunity.
This past Friday was the last day of school for the K-12 students, so the beach was crowded, even though it was overcast and spitting rain, and the traffic around the beach was quite congested.
The water was quite warm compared to the water at Gwanganli, the beach we visited last weekend. This was surprising since we had cooler temperatures with all the rain we had last week.
The picture below is an arial shot of the beach taken from the top of one of the nearby apartment complexes. Edwin, the co-leader of the fellowship group I've joined, lives here. The group met there today. (They usually meet at a middle school near the church. I'm not sure why we met at his place today.) There were 31 on us! So, we had to divide in half. One half stayed in the apartment; the other half went on the roof of the apartment complex, where there was a place to meet and enjoy the view. This was my time to experience a rooftop Bible study.
A Floating Temple
Pictured below - Jung-Hee and I
The Whole Group
Saturday, July 22, 2006
The views from the temple grounds are spectacular - mountains everywhere.