Tuesday, August 22, 2006


more reflections - culture shock in reverse

it's been a little over a week since i returned from pusan. i've done quite a bit of sleeping since i returned. i think it was a combination of the jetlag and sheer exhaustion from all i/we put into designing and executing the curriculum for the course. it wasn't until about saturday where i started to feel like i was finally on a "normal" sleep schedule, whatever that is.

what's been interesting is the disorientation to my own culture i've felt at various times over the past week. i was a bit surprised by this since i was only gone for five weeks. my other overseas experiences have been much longer (one year), so i expected disorientation with that length of stay. however, i wasn't really expecting it with this one, but it's definitely been there. for example, driving a car has been an interesting experience. more so than riding my bike, although yesterday in about 10 minutes i nearly ran off the side of the road and nearly ran into three other bikers. i guess i forgot that when you're riding, you can't look around at the signts. i guess i got used to this with all the walking and bus riding we did while in pusan. what also has contributed to the disorientation is the comparisons i've tried not to make but still do of certain things in this culture with the same things in the korean culture. it seems that now that i'm back in my own culture, it's easier to "romanticise" the other culture, which i found myself doing with the american culture while i was in pusan. it's pretty interesting how our brains process the information about a new place and what it does with that.

i mentioned in a previous post that at some points the experience seems surreal and that i'm afraid i'll forget about it. however, i've found that talking/chatting/e-mailing with people who are still there or who were there and went through the same experience keeps it alive. i've received several e-mails from students, one who is considering coming to the states to study. it seems the course had a remarkable impact on him. wow! e-mail from friends i made while there keeps me in the loop of what's going on in their daily/weekly lives. then chatting/talking with some of the team members, lisya and charm, and dr. h has helped to continue processing the experience.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006



the first day back. i woke up at 5am. decided not to lay in bed thinking about everything in the world, so i got up, had breakfast, cleaned, unpacked and put stuff away. i went to bed last night around 11pm and slept through the night. i was a bit disoriented when i woke up. wasn't quite sure where i was. i guess i'm still trying to readjust to being home.

now that i'm home, i realize what a great experience it was to go to pusan and teach at pnu this summer. what i find interesting is how being back in my own culture is helping me to have a better understanding of my experience in pusan. for example, when i went for a run today, i noticed how the cars would yield to me. in pusan, it was the opposite, and i was curious as to why this is. i speculated that because there are fewer pedestrians in columbus than there are cars, pedestrians have the right-of-way. whereas in a place like pusan, that's densely populated and cars are quite expensive to own and maintain, there are more pedestrians. so vehicles yielding to them would cause a traffic jam. from experiencing this in my own culture, it seemed that i was able to better understand why it's done differently in the korean culture. i'll be interested to see if i notice other aspects of this culture that help me to construct meaning in the korean culture.

as i continue to process my pusan experience, it seems to me that i'm coming away from this with more understanding of the korean culture, particularly in regards to how important the issue of face is in the culture and how the fact that korea was a "closed" nation for a long time still seems to influence the culture today. i think this comes from talking with culture "experts" (a.k.a. the students) and watching the people.


special thanks!

there are several people who contributed to my pusan experience. without them, i don't think this experience would have been as great as it was. they are -

Monday, August 14, 2006



i arrived in columbus last night around 7:30pm. the trip took a total of 24 hours door-to-door. wow! because of the heightened security resulting from what happened in london last week, there were some delays and several security check points to go through. other than these things, the flight was pretty uneventful, long, but uneventful. the guy sitting next to me said that he lost his wallet in one of the security checks he went through. he was on his way to an expo in florida and would be renting a car. he was wondering how he would do this without a credit card.

it felt really good to be back in the u.s. actually, in some ways, it didn't seem like i had left. it was a little surreal. i got up in the morning in pusan, flew for a long time, then ended up back in the states. i know that i've been gone, but because there really isn't anything here that tells me where i was, it almost seems like i wasn't. kinda strange.

clint was there at the airport to pick me up. thanks, clint! :) we came back to my apartment to do some unloading and unpacking and then headed out to get something to eat. of the following, what type of food do you think i had for my first meal back in the states:
hint: the vegetarian dishes are great!

now that i'm back, i have to figure out how i'm going to spend the rest of the summer. ;)


headed home

i flew home today and was fortunate enough to be on the same flight from pusan to narita with dr. h and his wife. because it wasn't a full flight, i switched seats so that we could debrief a little about the program. it sounds like pnu is very interested in continuing this. i was really happy to hear this. i thought that we did a lot of groundbreaking work this past month that will help in further defining what the program will look like for the remainder of the this year and for next. talking with them about the program was a good springboard for further reflections throughout the rest of the long flight. it was nice to have so much uninterrupted time to think about all that i/we did and experienced while in pusan. lisya and i are currently working on a short article about our experience for the nnest newsletter. i'm glad we decided to do that (despite the fact that the deadline is this saturday!) because i'm finding it to be a good way to shape my reflections of the experience. keeping this blog has been a great way to reflect on my experiences as well. having a community of readers and responders* helping me construct the meaning of my experiences has been an interesting and enlightening learning process.

*thanks to 'cherepaha' for bringing this to my attention

Sunday, August 13, 2006


the last day

today is my last day in pusan. it's almost hard to believe that the experience is over. i still can remember the day i arrived - it was right after the typhoon had hit and the rain was still here. stuart and eun-a, one of the students came to pick me up from the airport... today was sunny and hot, like all the days have been for about the past two weeks. i spent most of the day packing. late afternoon, lisya and i went out to the pnu shopping district to buy some last minute gifts and souveniers. (charm and stuart already left) we also had dinner together at a small restaurant near the university. we ordered our favorite dishes - mandu (dumplings), bibimbab, and sundubu. it was a good way to spend the last day of our time in pusan.

Friday, August 11, 2006


food, food, and more food

min-cheol, the guy i've been going to church with, and i went out for dinner tonight. it was a kind of farewell dinner. we went to a place near the pnu campus that serves duck. i had peking duck when i lived in china, but never tried it in korea, so even though he reminded me of my supposed vegetarianism, i employed my flexibility and joined him for duck. this restaurant was one of those where you cook on your table. the duck was quite delicious, although a little greasy. and there was so much food - several panchan and different types of sauces to dip the duck in . when we first got to the restaurant, there was no one else there. however, it quickly filled up. the food was delicious. the only thing i didn't like about the place was the loud music that was playing the entire time. it was very difficult to talk to min-cheol during the meal. the owner was a very energetic woman who was either running from table to table to cook the duck or behind the counter chopping more duck to be cooked.
after we had paid for the meal and were exiting the restaurant, she followed us out to spray us down with some kind of scent that was to cover the smell of the bbq. min-cheol told me that it was a kind of marketing strategy to get customers to come and not worry about smelling like bbq afterwards. it was interesting. after we left the restaurant, we wandered around the shopping district near pnu and eventually ended up at a pub, where we ordered a korean plum wine and anju, snacks to eat with it. i couldn't believe that we were ordering and eating more food after all that we had at dinner just 30 minutes prior, however, once it came, it was hard to resist. the panchan came first. this consisted of soft tofu, salad and caterpillars. yes, caterpillars. now i've tried everything. i saw these at several food vendors on the street, but had no idea what they were. they definitely looked like some kind of insect, but i didn't know what kind and didn't want to know. however, min-cheol, despite not knowing the english word for them, gave me enough info. for me to be able to figure out that they were in fact caterpillars. soon after the panchan were brought out, there was also a spicy seafood soup brought out. it was delicious. again, i couldn't believe that we were eating again after all that we had, but it all tasted so good, it was hard not too. again, i know it may seem like i spent my entire time here eating, but really, i haven't. ;)


at the finish

today was the last day of the course, so instead of having class, we planned a common gathering of all three classes, p, n and u, in p's classroom, because it had the best a/c and sound system of all three, for a potluck and performance. it was a really nice ending to a pretty tumultuous month. several students in all three classes prepared something entertaining, mostly in the form of a role play, the content of which highlighted what the students had learned during the past month as well as the distinct teaching styles of the four of us. it was really neat to see how the students displayed all they learned in such a creative way. many of the students incorporated the slang they learned from the simpson's episodes we watched in class and talked about or the o-h-i-o cheer that i taught them. they also imitated all of the teachers. their imitation of me included "hey guys" and "ja, ja", two expressions that i commonly use. the first reflecting my chicago accent; the second reflecting the influence of my second language (can you guess what that might be?!? ;)) on my first language. surprisingly, one of the students gave a presentation on her own. the others were done either with a partner or as a group. she is a briliant sketch artist and took time to draw each of the teachers. her presentation of her sketches was a kind of guessing game which she designed using powerpoint. she set it up so that only some parts of each person were displayed first and the audience had to guess who. after this, a full black and white was shown and then a color. it was so well done. the presentations took up most of the morning, although stuart had a part where he gave prizes to the students who had the highest scores on the final presentations in his classes. around noon, we had lunch, which consisted mostly of cakes, snacks and drinks. we took a lot of photos and ended up spending the rest of the time talking with students and finally saying our goodbyes. we left feeling pretty positive and were glad that the final day of the program ended on a good note. it was almost surreal that we were finally finished with the course. it was hard to believe that it was over. for some reasons, it seemed like the course lasted years; however, for other reasons, it seemed like it lasted only a couple days. i think it's still too soon to say how things went over all. i need a bit more time to process all that happened in the past month. during the party, i talked briefly with dr. h about the future of the program. it seems like there is a future for it for both osu and pnu. :) he also said that osu is extending the invitation for teachers beyond doctoral students in the department of second and foreign language. i was surprised to hear that. i think it's a great idea to open it up to others who may want the opportunity to spend time teaching in korea.

Monday, August 07, 2006


dr. h's arrival

dr. h arrived last night, but we didn't meet him until today for lunch and then again for dinner at a good turkish restaurant near the pnu campus. of course, we had a lot to talk with him about in regards to what happened at the end of last week and the future of the program. late this afternoon, he met with the dean, and it seems that the program is going to survive. at least that was the news earlier this evening. who knows? the situation may have changed since then. ;) after dinner, lisya, dr. hirvela and i went to a cozy book cafe in the basement of the o2 building, where we had both iced and hot tea and chatted about our time in pusan. dr. h had a lot of interesting questions for us about our experience that really challenged us to think about the benefit of spending this time in pusan. one of them was about how this experience has changed our teaching. in my case, i don't really see immediate evidence of how this has changed my teaching. however, when i go back to teaching esl composition this fall at osu, then it may be a bit more apparent how my teaching has changed. i found it interesting that in our discussion i admitted that i missed teaching composition. i never thought i would say that because of all the complaining i do about the preparation, grading and tutorials that are required with the comp courses; however, i realize that particularly with assessment issues, i enjoy teaching comp much more than spoken english. some of the other questions dr. h challenged us with included the things we found that were surprising or shocking. i didn't have an answer to this. i've felt very much at home since i got here, so there hasn't been too much, other than the drama at the end of last week, that's been surprising or shocking to me. another question he asked us is what we were going to miss after we leave. i think what i'll miss is the experience of living in a foreign country. life here has been exciting and i've been able to put off some things, like my dissertation, that i really shouldn't/can't when i'm in the states. in a sense, it's been a little bit like being on vacation. something else i'll miss is the students. i've found these students to be hard working and highly motivated, for the most part. in the classes i teach at osu, i don't particularly see this level of motivation, mostly i think it's because our classes fall at the bottom of the priority list with these students. they are focused more on their research and major classes rather than an esl composition course. however, the students here haven't really given me that impression, although one of the comments from last week's "secret" evaluation eluded to the fact that so much homework was keeping him/her away from his/her major classes. i'll also miss the friendships i've started with people at the church and in the fellowship group and living with the team members. that one bedroom apartment back in columbus is going to seem awfully quiet. alice and n! i'll just have to hang out in your place even more after i get back. btw, happy birthday, alice! hope you have a great day! so we're down to the last week of our stay here. i can't believe it's almost over. it almost seems surreal. with dr. h's arrival, we have designed some different activities to get him involved in our classes and with the students. lisya is having the students interview him in one of her classes. stuart and i are having him come and talk to the students about education in the u.s. the last day of class we've planned a performance show where students must prepare a skit, dialog, speech, debate, something that shows off what they learned this past month in their classes. we're combining the classes that day and having a potluck, since it'll be the last chance we have to get together. so we have some fun activities planned for the last week.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


a motley crew

these are some shots taken at today's fellowship group, which met at edwin's apartment this week. last sunday we met in the middle school near the church, which is the usual venue for the group. however, when we met there last sunday, it was just so hot that edwin, one of the co-leaders (pictured in the yellow t-shirt and jeans in the photo above) asked me if i thought we should have the group at his place today. i responded with an emphatic yes! in fact, if we had the group at the middle school today, i was thinking not to go just because of how hot it was last week. actually, despite the heat, meeting at the middle school last week was interesting. upon entering the school, we had to remove our shoes and carry them to the 5th floor, which is where all the groups meet. each group takes one of the classrooms and we sit at the students' desks. it gave me a feel for what a korean middle school is like and reminded me somewhat of my middle school days. after we spread the word about the change in venue, we piled in people's cars and taxis and headed over to edwin's place. edwin was born in korea when he was four and then went to the states with his parents when they immigrated at this time. now he's back in korea working as a project manager for nike, working on men's running footwear and gear. today he showed me the newest technology for running that his team is currently working on. it's a kind of joint project with apple ipods, where two devices that track the distance, speed, etc. of a runner can be inserted into the end of an ipod nano and the other underneath the pad of one of the runner's shoes. the nano also has power songs that help get the runner going and then the influence this has on the runner's performance is displayed on the ipod nano screen. it's pretty amazing. edwin lives in a really nice apartment complex near haeundae beach. his apartment is on the 29th floor, and he has a great view of the ocean. the a/c was on when we got there, so it was much better for our meeting than last week. we talked about the passage from john 15 on the fruit and the vine and had a pretty interesting discussion. jill (pictured above right), who has a bachelor's and master's degree in theology from a university in scotland, which is where she's from, had some interesting thoughts on the passage, which she freely shared. this is one of my favorite passages because of the number of times "abide in me" is mentioned and the prepositional usage (not "by" or "around" but "in"). i guess only a language instructor would see this. ;) prior to starting our discussion, we ordered nang myun (spicy cold noodles, which is a dish eaten in summer because it's cold, although i don't really get why it's also spicy. doesn't that defeat the purpose of it being cold?!?) that was delivered about the time we were finishing up. it was really nice not to have to leave the air-conditioned apartment for lunch. afterwards, edwin asked if we wanted ice cream and went to baskin-robbins to get four different kinds. michael, the other co-leader of the group, from nigeria, was planning to go to the orphanage to play with the kids today and asked if anyone was interested in going. i considered it, but it has just been so hot and the orphanage doesn't have a/c, so i decided not to go today. it turns out there were others in the group who also weren't interested in going today because of the heat. last week we thought about taking the kids to the beach, but when we were there last week, it looked like the social workers at the orphanage take them to the beach quite often. so because of this and the heat, we decided not to take them.


Saturday, August 05, 2006





mountain top view

after visiting the national museum, we drove to the top of a mountain, where the views were spectacular. the drive up reminded me of the drive to blowing rock and boone we did last decemenber - endless beauty. the mountains were similar to those in north carolina except it seems that there are mostly pine trees that cover the mountains, which give them a craggly(is this a word?) look.


three cherry blossoms

jin-young, me, myoung-ju (left to right)
this was taken on a jogging path that runs along a lake. the path is canopies by trees that have cherry blossoms in the spring. it was a very peaceful place. much different from the busyness of pusan.

Friday, August 04, 2006



after school today, we went to dinner with some of the other foreign teachers from pnu who teach English, some who have been here for 12 years. we went to a pizza place near the campus and ordered four different kinds of pizzas, two cheese, one mushroom and a supreme. the pizza was good. what's interesting here is that even with Western food (e.g., pizza, spaghetti), side dishes are served. with the spaghetti i had at the english chatting cafe earlier in the week, sweet pickles were served. with the pizza, sweet pickles and pickled jalepenos were served. at first, i wasn't quite sure about how complementary these would be, but surprisingly, it's a nice mix. after all the drama from this past week, it was nice to get together with them and gain some perspective on our experience. they were also very interested in how things were going for us, as they had quite a bit of say in choosing osu to be the partner school; however, they didn't seem to be a bit surprised when we told them of some of the situations we've encountered along the way, both before and after we arrived. the teachers were a great resource of info and were happy to share about their various experiences in korea. what i found interesting were the stories they told about having to sometimes teach courses on the fly and the emphasis that's placed on appearance rather than substance. all of them had a story about being thrown into a teaching situation with little preparation and few to no materials. i vaguely remember stories similar to this when i was living and teaching at a hagwon in seoul, but i guess after being back in the u.s. educational system for the past 9 years (one year i was teaching in germany), i find the lack of emphasis on substance to be disturbing. what's the point then of investing in your teaching if the substance doesn't matter? the teachers actually found our response to these aspects of teaching in korea to be refreshing. after dinner, we walked through a shopping district to the o2 building. along the way, we discovered a jogging path that runs along some water and a cafe which looks like a good place to work on my dissertation, which i've managed to work on despite all the other work i've had with teaching.
(this past week i didn't get as much done on it as i hoped. lisya and i decided to collaborate on a proposal for aera, which was due on tuesday, so that took some time at the beginning of the week. the focus of our dissertations is academic literacies, just with different populations, so we thought that this would make for an interesting conference presentation. that's more or less why we decided to collaborate on this. it was great fun working with her on this because we're on the same page in regards to the topic and we work well together. she's the first one classmate from our department i've collaborated with outside of course projects.)
we were hoping to catch pirates, mostly to sit and drool over johnny depp, at least for lisya and myself. i really don't think stuart (or charm) were interested in drooling over johnny ------ (hey, clint! "mr. pasty doesn't seem to look too pasty to me in these shots!!!!!! ;) i think lisya agrees with me on this.) We missed the 7:00 showing, so we hopped on the subway and headed toward one of the major shopping districtis in pusan, seomyeon, in the hopes of catching it at the theater there, but the only showing was 12:30am, so we headed back to the pnu district to a place called camel, "a basement bar". we were there a couple hours and then decided to head back home only to find out in an e-mail that dr. kim lost her position today. after receiving the negative feedback from the secret course evaluations, we e-mailed her requesting to meet with her at lunchtime today to discuss this. however, we received no response from her. we learned from the teachers at dinner tonight that in the korean culture, superiors do not respond to requests like this because it goes against the confuscian based hierarchical structures at place in the society. in other words, she can arrange a meeting with us, but we can't arrange a meeting with her. how frustrating! on top of that, the correspondence we did receive from her was a e-mail message telling us she had lost her post and that we would need to report to the dean now. she didn't really give much explanation for this, but it seemed like it came as a shock to her as well as others in the deparment. the teachers did tell us at dinner that the administration at most universities in korea is transitory. administrators hold their positions for what seems to be a short time compared to in the states, and new administrators typically bring their staff with them, which causes others to lose their jobs. the dean, dr. cho, who we're now reporting to, is new as of july 1, so i wonder if this sudden change came about because of his new post or if there was something else in the history between him and dr. kim that caused her to lose her job. needless to write, for another day this week, we were shocked. the question in our minds was what does this mean for the program. thankfully dr. h will arrive on sunday night; we'll meet him on monday to talk about all that has happened this week and try and figure out what's going to happen to the future of our program. we really hope that the program will continue, but right now there are so many questions in our minds that we have no idea what's going to happen. hopefully tomorrow will be a drama free day.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


thoughts on teaching

Only 7 more days of class. Wow! I can't believe that our time here is almost over. Overall, I would say that it's been a good experience. I've enjoyed being in Korea for a second time. As I mentioned in a previous blog, this trip has seemed like a homecoming in a sense. (I lived and taught in Seoul for a year 10 years ago.) I've enjoyed the teaching, even though I'm not teaching what I was hired or prepared to teach. And I've developed some friendships along the way. So overall, I think it was a good decision to spend part of my summer teaching at PNU.

In class today, we continued the theme of famous people. I designed a cloze dictation on Margaret Mead (one of my favorite famous persons). I also used the text to talk about grammar and vocabulary issues, particularly usage issues. The second activity we did in class was another follow-up to the interviews students did in class on Tuesday this week. One focus of the activity was on vowels and language rhythm; the other focus was on how the part of speech of a word changes the pronuciation of it. Most of the pronunciaiton practice I do with the students in the class is a listen and repeat exercise, with me being the source of input. It's unfortunate, but because we were not informed ahead of time that these would be the types of classes we would be teaching, we did not bring the appropriate materials with us. Consequently, we don't have tapes or CDs as another form of input for the students to listen to. Most of the listening exercises we pull from the Internet, which has been both good and not so good. The other activity we did in some of the classes today was to have students pair up and share the information about the famous people they researched. While they were sharing this, I went around and made note of the language difficulties they had when speaking and checked the accuracy and content of the 10 questions I asked them to write and that they would ask if they were to meet this person in person. I wasn't able to do this in all the classes because we had to let the second period students go early on account of an evaluation that was being administered at the end of the period (see below for a more detailed explanation and response to this). And then, because of a lack of communication on Dr. Kim's part regarding our lunch meeting today (She organized a lunch between us, her, the dean and another professor. It was very nice; however, she failed to tell us that the venue had been changed. We waited for 20 minutes and then left to go find our own lunches before we had to be back in the classroom to teach. By chance, we went to a place where the office staff was having their lunch, and they told us where the new meeting place was.), we were 20 minutes late getting back from lunch (It was good that Dr. Kim called the students to let them know we would be late because of her lack of communication with us), so I was unable to do everything in the other two classes that I accomplished in my first class of the morning and to keep the classes more or less at the same place, I decided to save the famous persons discussions in two of the classes for tomorrow. After class on Tuesday, I uploaded the interviews that the students recorded to our class podcast page so that they would have access to these. For homework, I asked them to review their interviews and write down three aspects of their spoken English that they want to work on improving and bring this to class with them tomorrow. In class, I gave the students some examples of what I meant by aspects of their spoken English, e.g., pronunciation of consonants and vowels. I also reminded them that other teachers, like Lisya, were working on spoken English issues with them, so I asked them to think of these and consider them as possible aspects they want to improve. Our next theme is entertainment and the subtheme I chose is sitcoms, primarily because of my experience teaching sitcoms in the ESL classroom. I asked the students to bring in a synopsis of a Korean sitcom, including the main characters and be prepared to discuss their favorite episode. I'm going to have students share these and then we'll watch another episode of the Simpsons, which I'll decide tonight, although I'm not sure if we'll have time to start it tomorrow or have to save this for Monday's class. I'm finding, and the others are too, that it's difficult to cover a theme a day, so I'm taking two days per theme, barring no secret course evaluations or other disturbances (e.g., no air conditioning in the classrooms. Come on! It's like 100 degrees. And we have to compete with all the construction noise.)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Buckeyes in Eagle Country

Today in class we finished up the sports theme by doing some pronunciation work (derived from the interviews they did in yesterday's class), listening to part of an interview with Jim Tressel and learning the O-H-I-O cheer to Hang on Sloopy.


Panchan Galore

Today I received a spontaneous lunch invitation from two students in the P class. I went with them and Stuart to a traditional Korean restaurant, where we met other students from the P class and sat on the floor and ate (what seemed to be a million) panchan (side dishes) including kimchi, dok, bean sprouts, spinach, squid and others along with a boiled pork dish. (Yes, it seems that my vegetarianism has (temporarily) gone by the wayside.) (BTW, don't worry, Pop, I won't bring any pig intestines home for you since it seems like we have enough of these already in the States! ;)) At lunch, I learned a lot more about the Korean style of eating, including what dishes are shared and what aren't. I had difficulties distinguishing what dishes weren't shared at lunch today because every time I've been to a restaurant where I've sat on the floor to eat, everything on the table was shared with others. The only time I've had my own entree was at restaurants where I sat on a chair at a table.

Just before lunch, one of the students in the N class gave me a small container of two different kinds of panchan, which I believe she made herself. One of them was spicy stems of garlic; the other was spicy catnip. She included a note with these which provided an explanation of them. She wrote that they might be a bit sour, which I found to be true with the catnip. I was planning to eat these with the lunch I brought today, but because I ended up eating with the P class, I ended up eating these with my dinner tonight. They were delicious and a nice compliment to the kimchi pocum pap (kimchi fried rice) I made for dinner.

I just reviewed the past few postings, and from these it seems like the only thing we do here is eat. For the record, I am doing other things than eating. Really!!! ;)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


"N"Ice Cream

This afternoon the teachers were invited to accompany the N class students to the English Chatting Cafe on campus , where you can order a coffee beverage, ice cream or Western food like pizza, french fries or spaghetti in English and be understood. The purpose of the cafe seems to be to provide a space for students (and teachers!) to practice their English. (I'm not sure how the foreign and Korean English teachers at PNU use it. That's something I'll have to remember to ask when I meet Soo-Min, one of the Korean English teachers I'm having coffee with this week or the foreign teachers, who we're meeting for dinner on Friday night.) I sat and talked with four of the students from the N class about various things, including a very detailed map that one of the students drew for the teachers. It includes a number of good restaurants around PNU. It was nice to have another opportunity to talk with the students outside of class, in a more relaxed atmosphere. Because it was only one class and three teachers, the students had a great opportunity to practice their English (even better than in the classes!).



Last Friday, the U class invited me to have lunch with them today in the form of a potluck. To be honest, I really had no idea of what to bring because I'd never been to a potluck in Korea before, so last night I went to E-Mart (the local version of Wal-Mart, just on a smaller scale) and wandered around for about a half hour before deciding to take kimbab, which is like California roll. I chose this dish because it doesn't require heating and is easy to transport. A lot of the students also brought different kinds of kimbab. I guess this is a popular potluck dish. ;) It wasn't the only dish we had at the potluck; there was also rice cake, fried egg, pig intestine, and various side dishes. One of the students brought hot peppers (from his parents' garden) with soybean paste and catnip (which his mother prepared) in hot sauce. Everything was delicious. For dessert, one of the students brought some plums. Fruit seems to be a common ending to most Korean meals and is quite refreshing after eating a lot of spice. While eating, I found out a little bit about the custom of potlucks in the Korean cultures; they are common mostly with university students. I also found out a little bit more about one of the students - both his parents work in the food industry; his father works at a Korean bakery making dok, traditional Korean rice cake; his mother works as a cook in Japan. I found it interesting that his mother spends several months during the year working in another country, away from her family. After everything was cleaned up, the students went and had a coffee from the vending machine located on the first floor of the building. It's very common to have coffee with milk and sugar following a meal. I've heard it's because Korean food makes one very sleepy, so the caffine in the coffee helps in counteracting that. What I also find interesting is how the students brush their teeth after eating rather than chewing gum or eating a mint, as we (sometimes) do in the States.


Podcasting Revisited

Today in class students were to have prepared an interview with a "famous" professional/college athlete. At the beginning of class I gave students 10 minutes to go over their interviews one more time with their partners and informed them that these would be recorded. I brought in my mp3 player for students to use as a kind of microphone during their interviews and to record their interviews to listen to tonight and debrief tomorrow in class with exercises targeting pronunciation and conversation troubles. (More about this later.) These have been uploaded to our class podcast page. While students were presenting, I asked the others to listen carefully and asked them detailed listening comprehension questions following each interview. As a follow up to today's lesson, I asked students to listen to an interview with Jim Tressel (head coach of the OSU football team), take notes and bring these to class with them tomorrow to discuss. Tomorrow we'll be finishing up the sports theme and starting the theme of famous people. In preparation for this, I asked students to think of a famous person, do some research on this person and bring this to class with them tomorrow.

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