Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

Off to Thai TESOL

I leave tomorrow for Thailand, and I’m feeling pretty good.

My PowerPoint Presentation is finished, but I may polish a slide or two before the actual song-and-dance. My handouts are photocopied and packed. I still need to get my poster markers for the workshop part of my presentation, but I texted Anna and she said she would pick them up as she swings by E-Mart. I will find the poster paper I need in Thailand. I need at least one adventure before the conference to make it seem real. 

The paper itself is not complete, but I have basically done this workshop a hundred times with my teachers-in-training, so all I really don’t need a written paper to run the session. All I will need are some notes for the theoretical introduction and some more notes for the processing of the workshop. The workshop is where I apply the theory I explain in the introduction and the processing demonstrates how the theory was applied and implemented. I will then have the participants assess the effectiveness of the workshop and the goal that the workshop aimed to achieve themselves.

Here’s the invitation to the Thai TESOL reception (see below). Rumor has it that’s it’s going to be pretty swank, since they are celebrating the 30th year of the conference.

The conference is being held at the Twin Tower Hotel in Bangkok. Here is a link to an online site that has compiled reviews of the hotel and here is another link to an actual review. I will also be staying there. It looks to be an average place, so long as I  keep my expectation low I should be pretty happy. That shouldn’t be too hard, because I will be happy if it is equal to your typical Korean Love Motel. The hotel already has one thing going for it and thatis a pool; most Korean Love Motels don’t have an outdoor swimming pool (see below). So that is certainly a plus.

If my room has wifi, I will try to keep the blog updated. If the room lacks wifi, then you may have to wait intil February to hear me tell of my adventures in Bangkok.

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Oxford University Press Interview & Presentation

Yesterday I had my Oxford University Press interview and presentation. As I wrote on facebook: It started off wrong, but ended well.

The country manager began the interview by reading from my cover letter, which in my experience is never a good sign. She began by saying, “In your cover letter you wrote: ‘My current position offers me a considerable amount of freedom and a network of contacts which your company may find advantageous.’ I gather that you have no intention of leaving your current position.” I agreed. That was my intention. She then informed me that she was looking to fill a full time position.

From my perspective, you can’t begin an interview from a more “wrong” position. I was looking for one thing and they were looking for another.   When I was informed of this I, of course, apologized for misreading of their advertisement. Luckily, I wasn’t the only one who had misread it, because the country manager informed me that I was the third person to apply who had made the same interpretation of the ad. With her admission, I was feeling a little bit better.

From the cover letter she proceeded to my CV. “I see that you have been her a long time, since 1997.” Her next question was in Korean: (Do you know Korean?) I answered in Korean, (Yes, a little.)  She then switched back to English. “I see that you have written some articles about education in Korea, do you remember the essay, ‘A Rose by Any Other Name?’” I said that I did, but that I had written it a long time ago, so I only remember the general thesis. She then went on to summarize what the article was about, that is, an essay that examines the use of English names by English language instructors, and how that may be both appropriate and inappropriate for certain children. I was a bit surprised. I hadn’t actually thought anyone had read the essay much less be able to remember it after almost ten years. She then went on to mention how she had read this article a few days after her son had come back from a hagwon in tears because the Native speaker teacher said that his name was John. The Native Speaker instructor would not let him use his real name in class, because it was too hard to pronounce. When I was an instructor in a hagwon, I remember teachers who had made similar edicts in their classes. I was more flexible, I did my best to use the name my students wanted to be called. In the interview I made the comment that I thought that was a very ethno-centric thing to say and do and it was obvious from her son’s reaction that for him taking on an English name and identity was inappropriate. She said that she used my essay to change the policy at the hagwon regarding the use of English names.

After this, I was feeling much better about the interview and she proceeded to ask me question about the biggest differences between Korean public schools and American public schools to which I replied IEPs (individual evaluation plans). Korean school don’t have them. They give the same test to all 600 students in any given grade. She asked me what I thought the biggest trend in private English education was to which I replied CBI (content based instruction) and we spent about 1o minutes discussing that. I surmised from what she had to say that CBI had put a dent into Oxford textbook sales, and she was mining me for ideas to either co-opt the trend to her own needs or to find arguments against the trend.

She then asked me if I had prepared anything to present, and I told her that I had. She then asked me if it would be all right for her to invite her staff into the conference room. I said that would be great since I need them to be student’s for me. I then did my sample lesson for third and fourth grade elementary students. I had the office workers singing, doing TPR, playing matching games to internalize the new vocabulary, using paper cups and flashcards to practice the positiveand negative expressions, and the lesson finished with an authentic language task, a classroom survey. I then processed the sample lesson in terms of the active learning cycle and answered questions by the staff regarding how the active learning cycle fits into the PPP framework exposed in the the teacher books. I answered that question by saying the PPP framework looks at the lesson in terms of what the teacher needs to have the students doing, therefore, it’s from the teacher’s perspective; whereas, the active learning cycle is from the learner’s perspective, that is, it’s what the learners are doing as they move through the lesson.

The interview/presentation ended with me and the country manager talking. She asked me how I felt about being video taped to which I answered I don’t mind. She asked me if I would be willing to teach a sample lesson like this in front of real students while other teachers watched, to which I answered I prefer teaching lessons to real students and having people observe me is something I am very comfortable with. She then asked me if I would be willing to give the same presentation on February 4th for the New York representatives who will in Korea to which I answered I wouldn’t mind. She then ended the interview/presentation with: “I’ll have to have a contract drawn up and we will need to be clear about your roles and obligations. For example, if you are working for us we would restrict you from working with other publishers.” This made me a little nervous, so I asked would that mean I could no longer write for E*Public? She then clarified her position. I would be able to act a s a writer for whomever I wanted, but I would not be allowed to work for any other publishing companies in any other capacity. Upon here clarification, I said that I could abide by that restriction.

Although the interview started off on the wrong foot, I feel that playing to my strengths was the appropriate call, I was able to demonstrate that I had a skill that they could use even if that skill wasn’t availbale to them full-time. Perhaps, I impressed them enough that they want to put me under contract just so that Cambridge, Macmillian and Pearson’s can’t have me. That is after all what the no work clause would be all about. Hmm, maybe once we actually begin the negotiating process I will have to test the waters a bit to see to what extent this may be true.

[The Korean language plugin is still not working with my blog. I’ve uninstalled it, re-installed it, but I just can’t seem to get it to work. Any technophiles out there who might have a suggestion, please feel free to leave a comment.]

Friday, January 8th, 2010

Neglected Blog

 These thoughts were scribbled in my notebook on 3/12/2009 while traveling between Hapjung Station and HUFS:

 It’s quite obvious; I’ve been neglecting my blog. The neglect has been continuous for the better part of four months. It started in the later part of December 2008 and has continued well through the first quarter of 2009. It’s not because there’s been a dearth of blog-worthy events; on the contrary, there have been plenty of things to write about in fact if one were to open up the various notebooks that serve as my journals and doodle pads, one could confirm that blog-worthy events have occurred. The pages of my notebooks are crammed with the lines, squiggles and undulations that comprise the nearly illegible manifestations of my thoughts.

Why then have I been neglecting my blog?

The answer, as always, is simply that life gets in the way.

2008 ended with me frantically trying to tie up loose ends as another semester came to an end. I had projects to assess, final exams to mark and twelve courses worth of grades to input. Yes, Korean universities tend to heap the work load onto their foreign staff; we are the adjunct professors of the orient.

With the semester at an end, I was not, however, free to fill my blog with the ruminations on the completion of another year because it was time to pack and prepare the family for an international excursion. We were off to America for the holidays and then some.

Once in America the holidays and family swirled around us and this continued to conspired against my ability to add anything to my blog. The holidays, as holiday always do, came and went and although life quieted there were still snow storms to shovel, luges to build. luges to maintain, trips to plan, people to see and shopping for friends and family in Korea. More importantly, however, there was a wife, a Nana and children to spend time with.

The international excursion has come to an end, a new semester is underway, and now I finally have time to dust off my blog while I wile away the time between classes. I will attempt to catch my self up, but I will be doing the updating eclectically. Consequently I cannot promise that I will adhere to chronological order, but I will do my best to type up and post all the random observations and thoughts that I have dutifully logged in the three or four notebooks that inhabit the bags, desks and offices of my life.

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

Serial Plagiarists

Every semester there is always a student who reaches a certain level of infamy among his or her professors.

One semester it was Capt. Moon who had his wife do all his work. Since she had not actually experienced any of the sample lessons it was impossible for her to reflect on them. Consequently she would cut and paste random comments about teaching and teaching practice, hand them to her husband and he would pass that in as his thoughts about what he had experienced. He also managed to have his wife plagiarize all his reflections on culture for Glenda.  

This semester its Marilyn O (BTW “O” stands for OHMYFUCKINGOD!) She’s a serial plagiarist as well, but she is perhaps even worse than Capt. Moon. He, or his, wife at least did the readings for Materials Development; because he/she actually read the text since the answers were taken straight out of the coursebook. Marilyn, on the other hand, didn’t even bother to copy the answers out of the coursebook. She would plug the whole guided reading question into Google and cut and paste what ever she found. Sadly she didn’t even bother to read or skim what she had found because sometimes (most of the time) the results wouldn’t match the spirit of the reading.

However, she did learn from this, because in culture with Glenda instead of plagiarism she used Babblefish, an online translation program, to translate a reflection on stereotypes. Here’s a few samples from her work:

With the devastation which poorly of the metropolises follows prejudiced because like this from bankruptcy the black themselves short median life expectancy, the social pathology which reaches to the human unhappiness of high crimes and drug abuses and all types occurred.

Now does not write the word which is an unwed mothers from the world wide various countries and not to be the word which is single wool adopts. The unwed mothers alone are competent fostering and fostering boiling of the usual child, many Koreans it naturally, accepts.

Decimal racial group happen about prejudice the research of most the loach was advanced a focus.

Glenda’s in-paper comments for the above were: “I have NOidea what you are trying to say here.” Glenda wondered if this was too harsh. Both Dave Boesch and I, after reading the passages, assured her that it wasn’t. If fact I think “What the fuck?” would also be appropriate.

Some background information on Marilyn O: She is an art curator who is in the TESOL certificate to improve her English. She is very busy because she works, is married with children and supposedly has recently become pregnant again. Her husband who cannot speak English helps her with the ideas.

If she is trying to improve her English, I am not sure if a TESOL Certificate Program designed to teach teachers how to teach English is the right place for her. The program assumes a high level of English has already be attained. We interview all prospective students to ascertain their English proficiency, so I’m not sure how she slipped through the interview process, but she did. Interestingly, I’m not sure how she thinks she will improve her English if she doesn’t do the work.

Capt. Moon and Marilyn O are fairly common. I have been teaching in Korea for over ten years and there are several students each and every semester who beleive that they can get away with plagiarism. It doesn’t matter if you tell them ahead of time, which I have done every semester since 2000. My first few years in Korea I assumed that submitting one’s own work was the norm and that Korean had better ethics than to pass off someone else’s writing as their own. I guess I was a bit naive, but I have learned.

I can remember one paper that was submitted to me by a student at KAIST. He didn’t even bother to synchronize the fonts and font sizes. It looked like a kind of crazy quilt except it was supposed to be an original essay. When you confront the students about their plagiarism, many don’t even realize that it is wrong. When I ask the questions: Would you do this in a Korean class? They usual answer, “Yes, all the time.”Consequently, I want to blame the education system which focus on rote memory and knowledge retention. Since the system down plays student’s ability to synthesize, organize and apply the knowledge they have learned. When given tasks that require them to actually use and process what they know, they struggle.  Because they struggle to organize their own thoughts and ideas, they, in desperation, turn to the Internet and take whatever they can find to submit for their assignment.  

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

SLA meets the Faithful

I have been teaching courses in Second Language Acquisition (SLA) off and on for the last six years. One of the activities that I give my students is a group presentation on an aspect of SLA.  I typically ask each group to pick one of the following topics to research and report on:

Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis (CAH)
Error Analysis (EA)
Inter-Language (IL)
Grammatical Morphemes and Natural Order
Universal Grammar (UG)
Krashen’s Monitor Model

Since the SLA courses that I teach are typically professional certificate and/or graduate level courses, I usually get thoughtful, well-organized presentations that do an excellent job of presenting material that I am bored of presenting myself. This year, however, I was caught  off guard during the last leg of the Universal Grammar (UG) presentation.

A group of two women and one man were presenting. The two women had spoken and they had done  a good job simplifying what I consider the most technical of the six topics. I figured the last speaker would quickly summarize the key points of the theory and then highlight the major issues that underlie applying UG to SLA before dismounting.

Boy was I in for a surprise.

I felt a bit like Bugs Bunny when he sticks his head out of his tunnel and says, ‘I knew I should’ve taken that left at Albuquerque,’ because suddenly I found myself in Bible class.  My student was using his four minutes to describe how UG proves the existence of the Tower of Babel and therefore how all the stories in the Bible must be true such as Adam, Eve and the Garden of Eden.  

I’m actually not sure where he got his information. I did a quick check of the internet and I couldn’t find much; just a few passing remarks. So, I am a little impressed with his creativity, but that really wasn’t the point of the presentation.

Since this was perhaps a ‘once-in-a-life-time’ experience, I, of course, shared this tale with my colleagues. One of my colleagues inquired, “How are you going to mark that?”

Actually I had no problem marking it at all. I gave the student what we refer to as the grade of death; I gave him a C. This grade is the grade of death because it is just high enough so the student won’t withdraw from the course, but it isn’t high enough to assure that he will receive his certificate. Our program requires that the students maintain a B average. When students get a D or lower they typically withdraw and will take the course again. If students get an F in a particular course, they have unlimited F Xing in Korea, or in other words you can fail as much as you want and have it struck from your transcript. This is probably because many Korean students party away their freshman year of university and receive numerous F grades.  

One C will not destroy his average, but I suspect he may have done this in other classes or he will do this in other classes. If he gathers enough of these “kisses of grading death” he will not qualify for his certificate.

For those of you who feel that my C reeks of subjectiveness. Let me assure you that I graded his presentation according to my rubric which is divided into two parts; performance and content. In the performance part of the rubric there are four categories and in the content part of the rubric there are six categories. He actually got an A in in his performance, but a solid D in his content and the rubric is slightly skewed to make content more important than performance; therefore, he recieved a C.

The assignment requires the students to synthesize the information from various sources and create a well organized presentation. I emphasize that I only want my studetns to synthesize the information from the various sources I provide them. For example, I expect them to use their current textbook, How Languages Are Learned, chapter three form an SLA textbook written by Seville-Troika, selected sections from The Study of Second Language Acquisition  by Rod Ellis, and one selected reading for each topic that I put on reserve in the library. I tell them to only use the internet to clarify what they are learning from the sources I have given them. I always tell my studetns to treat skeptically any information that diviates wildly from what they are learning.   

Although I am uncertain where he got his information, it would seem to fit the description of something that ‘divates wildly from the information in the sources that I provided.’ Just ot be sure, I re-read everything I provide about Universal Grammar and in none of the sources I provide is the Tower of Bable mentioned.  

Later in the afternoon I ran into my student in the bathroom. I asked him, “Are you a Christian?” Based on personal experience in restrooms across Korea, this is not necessarily a rude questions to ask when another man is taking a piss. In response to my questions he gushed enthusiastically from both ends and said, “Oh, yes! I want this TESOL certificate so when I do my missionary work in China, I will be able to teach the Bible in English.”

I cannot predict whether or not he’ll receive his TESOL Certificate, but I am certain that he’ll do missionary work in China. How do I know, you ask. Let’s just say, ‘God’s will has been made manifest,’ and that’s how Second Language Acquistion met the faithful.

Questions to self:

How does this figure into Mognolo’s framework on English and Globalization?
What would Phillipson and Pennycook make of this non-native speaker as missionary of English?
Does this fit into Sartre’s conception of Bad Faith?

Monday, October 20th, 2008

Korean Doctors Smoke Crack

There are probably more important things for me to be blogging about, but this just happens to be a recent event. My life seems to be moving along at a much faster rate than my ability to chronicle it; this incident is not an exception.

My ankle is surprisingly better; in fact it is much better much sooner than I would have thought based on the doctor’s prognosis. I think my Korean doctor must be smoking crack. I can’t see myself in this cast for 4-6 weeks. In fact I wiggled out of it yesterday morning to check things out and to itch a spot on the bottom of my calf. Getting out was easy, I suspect getting back in will not, but I am getting ahead of myself.

Back Story

I have two killer teaching days and two killer prep days this semester. Every Wednesday I have ten hours of class and every Saturday I have twelve hours of class; consequently every Tuesday and Friday I head into Seoul and have two marathon prep sessions. These prep sessions often run late into the evening, so I crash at the HUFS APT that I also sublet out to Glenda’s ex-boyfriend (there’s a story here, but I’ll need to blog about it later).

My routine, therefore, looks very much like this:

  • Go into Seoul early Tuesday using 2200 bus and the Seoul subway
  • Prep in my office late into the evening
  • Goto my subletted APT via local buses and subway
  • Go to bed early, so I can get up by 6:30
  • Catch the YongIn bus by 7:40
  • Teach from 9:30 to 3:30
  • Catch a 4:00 bus back to Seoul
  • Teach from 6:30-9:40
  • Catch the 9:48 train so I can make the last bus back to Paju
  • Grab the last 200 or 900 bus
  • Arrive back in Paju around midnight Wednesday night or early Thursday morning
  • Go into Seoul early Friday using 2200 bus and the Seoul subway
  • Prep in my office late into the evening
  • Goto my subletted APT via local buses and subway
  • Go to bed early, so I can get up by 7:40
  • Grab the subway and transfer to a local bus
  • Teach from 10 am – 10 pm
  • Catch the 10:05 train so I can make the last busback to Paju
  • Grab the last 200 or 900 bus
  • Arrive back in Paju around midnight Saturday night or early Sunday morning

As you can see, this routine involves a lot of public transportation and public transportation in Korea is not always good for your health. I once wrote about the birth of a bus driver that I witnessed in 1998, and it was an eye-opening experience. (Sometime in the future, I will try to add it to my archives, but suffice it to say the trainer praised the trainee when ever he seemed to do wrong things rather that the right things.)

Theoretical Stuff

Braking hard is one of the hallmarks of an ‘excellent’ bus driver in Korea, and the drivers on the 200 and 900 bus routes are ‘excellent’ brakemen.  There are few women bus drivers in Korea, probably because women are less likely to endanger the people who are entrusted to their care. They also maybe less patriotic than male drivers (see below).

I believe that Koreans are actually somewhat subconsciously patriotic about their traffic deaths per capita. Through most of the 90s they led the world in that statistic and were dubiously recognized by Time (Asian Edition) in 2004 as being the worst driver in the world.  Koreans are competitive and the fact that clung to this ‘honor’ for more than a decade suggests they were doing their best to maintain this ‘top spot.’ It has only been in that last couple of years that the Koreans have lost their place at the top. This suggests, I believe, that Korean drivers today are less patriotic than those in the past. This is most likely due to the fact that the most patriotic drivers are already dead.

The Story

Last Saturday, I gathered up my gear and stashed it into three bags. My computer went into my computer bag, my books, files and papers went into my satchel, and my dirty clothes and a few odds-and-ends went into a yellow plastic EMART bag. (I know EMART bag is CLASSY). This gear will play an important role latter.

I hurried to the subway station because I have a tight schedule if I want to make it all the way home rather than being stranded in some other part of Paju. I made the 10:05 train and I settled in for the 90 minute ride to end of the Seoul subway line. I disembarked at Daehwa Station the terminus for line three and joined the teaming masses whose journeys this night weren’t done. Not long after joining the throng, the 900 bus slowed and we jumped aboard. (Please, note that I said “slowed.” Buses in Korea do not in fact always stop at bus stops. I believe stopping is actually optional and typically discouraged). 

I live near the end of the route less than a kilometer from the North Korean boarder in a neighborhood called Tongildongsan, which roughly translates as Reunification Village. Just opposite this village on the other side of the river is the North Korean propaganda city in which people don’t actually live, but it was build to show the South Koreans that the North enjoyed the same modern comforts. That village has fallen into disrepair, but I digress.

The fact that I live near the end of the route, the fact that I was the last person on the bus, and the fact that it was after mid-night all created the perfect situation. The bus driver was rushing to finish his day, I was tired, I was weighed down with my gear, and I was only thinking about going home and so I was not giving the bus and its driver my full attention. I was fishing in my pockets for my transit card so I could swipe it before we got to my stop when suddenly the bus driver braked as only Korean bus drivers know how to do. I wasn’t holding the rail, but the bus was quickly decelerating. I and my bags, on the other hand maintained our former velocity and before I could brace myself ‘a-flying’ I did go, but ‘a-landing’ I did not. I fell/skidded down the rear stairwell and in the process my right foot was either bent backwards or pushed forward.

I was so angry at the bus driver that the adrenalin rush masked most of the pain. I was also determined to use all the Korean I had learned from other bus drivers and taxi drivers. I spewed a chain of curses that left the driver unfazed. He simply looked up in his review mirror and once he was certain I was clear of the door, drove happily on his way.

The next morning I realized the extent of my injury. I woke up and my right foot wouldn’t bare weight. Anna said if this ever happens again I should just lay there screaming in pain and threatening to sue, because it is likely I will be offered blood money. I don’t know if I will heed this advice. First of all, I’m going to do my best to avoid a repeat of this incident, and second, I took a small amount of satisfaction from my rant of expletives in Korean. It’s taken me ten years to learn all those curses and I rarely get a chance to practice/use them.

Crack Heads Unites

Sunday I loafed around and filled myself with pain killers and packed my ankle in ice. The following morning things hadn’t improved, so it was time to see a doctor. Anna’s friend, Na-Young Oma, took me to the hospital. She told him the back story, he sent me to X-Ray, he pointed his pen at my foot to indicate that he would like me to move it, he told the nurse to put me in a cast, he prescribed a bunch of pills and said, “4-6 weeks.”

Did the doctor touch my foot? No.

Did he examine the injured area with his fingers to determine what might be injured? No.

Did he earn his $150?

Well, kind of….He did prescribe an injection of a powerful painkiller and narcotic before they fitted me in the cast and that was pleasant and the cocktail of medicines he sent me home with have also been enjoyable if not as colorful as other pharmaceutical cocktails that I have been prescribed; however, the nurse pulling my foot and toes back to make the “boot” fit properly was not pleasant at all, since the Achilles tendon seems to one of my most afflicted areas.

It is now Friday morning, just under a week since the injury. I’m still limping and the area is still tender and swollen, but I’m not 3-5 weeks away from recovery. Now, I’m not complaining. I’ve got 3-5 weeks of pain killers left in my white pharmaceutical bag and no real reason to use them, but I’m beginning to wonder if Korean doctors smoke crack.

There it is!

There it is!

Friday, October 10th, 2008

The Beginning of the End: English Village Style

Monday, 18 August

Another summer vacation has come to an end, and with it I start my last days at English Village.

When I stepped back into the office after a lovely three-week hiatus, I noticed that the computer which has resided on my desk for 2 1/2 years was gone; replaced with a computer from Ready Room 1 that won’t even boot. It seems that someone has removed it from my office as a replacement for their broken machine. Unfortunately, the loss, in terms of work, is rather severe because it contained all the SIT Documents that I have been asked to organize before I go. I think English Village is just trying to make the task more challenging so it consumes the last ten day that I have here.

I searched the Ready Rooms assuming that would be where the machine would be relocated, but to no avail. The powers that be certainly weren’t going to make it easy on me. I popped my head into a couple of nearby classrooms to see if perhaps the machine had ended up in them, but again; life is not that easy.

I am now trying to piece together the document record by using materials on Gina, Dave’s and other computers in the office and classrooms, but I’m not sure if those documents are the most recent versions of the documents I need. Like I said, the task has become infinitely more challenging.

Besides the missing computer which has given me a figurative headache, the office is quite peaceful. Dave is on his honeymoon doing whatever honeymooners do, Gina is where-ever Gina is doing whatever Gina does, and Chris and Tish keep popping in and out between sessions of whatever program they are teaching this week. Hopefully when I get back from the bank with Anna and Jangmonim, I will be able to tackle some of the projects that have escaped me while I was on vacation. Since EV has made the task of organizing the SIT document infinitely more challenging, I figure I should wait at least until tomorrow to really start the process, because who knows maybe the missing computer will miraculously re-appear.

Monday, August 18th, 2008

So much TIME; So little TIME to Blog

If I ever had a readership I sure I would have bored them to death by now.  Can you believe I haven’t written anything since April 3rd!

Proverbial and true: TIME flies. Although I could rationalize this hiatus, I should face the music or absence of it: I didn’t make TIME.

In that TIME many “bloggable” events have occurred. Since I can’t blog about them all at one TIME, I guess I will begin by generating a list. Please forgive me in advance if it is a long list, but it really has been a long TIME since I last blogged.

I will soon be going on vacation. I will have lots of TIME. If I have a readership, you can let me know which of the tales you’d like me weave first. Each of the following numbered points represents a possible tale. I will do my best to write one per day starting the 28th of July. I have 18 days of vacation so that should be at least 18 tales. If we have a spectacularly wet monsoon season that number could easily rise.

In no particular order (unless stream-of-consciousness counts as an orgnaizational scheme):

  1. Restructuring at EV: A new CEO à The more things change the more things stay the same.
  2. Village Wars concluded: Dwight’s Plight and other tales of conflict and loss
  3. Selfish Gina and the lunch confrontation at the Double Decker Pub: Social skills? I think they’re overrated. 
  4. Is it me or did things get a little weird? Gina’s trip to TESOL and the SIT, EV, Daegu love triangle
  5. Take a Seat: Broken seal on the washing machine door, flooded house and Anna falls hard on her tail bone
  6. Noah’s Birth: Wanted to stay but needed more room à Water birth redux and the shutterbug midwife
  7. Looking for jobs: Round 1 à Would you go to heaven if you died right now?
  8. Looking for jobs: Round 1 à Jenny Yang @ Seoul Station
  9. I got a job: Sweet! Please meet Vice Principal Brawn
  10. Geoje Island, a Korean War POW camp, stunted palm trees, but not for me
  11. I lost a job: The Korean coup d’état  
  12. Looking for jobs: Round 2 à Have you ever considered being an ESL whore?
  13. Anna – Broken tail bone: So that’s why you’re such a pain in my ass
  14. Final session with SIT @ EV: Have I mentioned, “I’m done.”
  15. Telecom Immunity: Is it another step toward fascism in the US?
  16. What ever happened to HR24? New Hampshire’s resolution for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney
  17. Daewon, Mike Savage and the New York Times: Been there. Done that.
  18. The New York Times and Korean Food Culture: I could’ve written that article ten years ago!
  19. Gavin’s party and EV Boyz hysteria: “I know these guys!”   
  20. Missing my family and missing the fourth of July: Mom’s 80th
  21. The Portwalk Project, Google Earth and the discovery that my brother is a photographer: Who knew I had such a talent family!
  22. My new cell phone: They were just jealous. My old phone was sexy and it was green!
  23. The untrainable participant: KASA, confidence and the ELC
  24. BoA vs. Noah: Pictorial expose or why Dain isn’t Noah’s father.
  25. Pelosi finally gets is right: Bush is a loser.
  26. Money in Politics: McCain, Obama and federal funds.
  27. The Korean Diaspora: The kirogi appa and English Education
  28. The global economy, capitalism and the race to the bottom: A unionist’s take on comparative advantage and outsourcing
  29. Samcheok in doubt: Anna’s tailbone, five hour drives and an overstuffed mini-van
  30. Krashen, EV, and two-and-a-half years of observation: What he got right, what he got wrong, and all that still need to be done
  31. Andy, the National Soccer Tournament, the loser’s bracket and the suspicious bruises on his legs: Second best again!
  32. Andy’s friend’s mother and the revelation of the suspicious bruises
  33. Jangmonim’s apartment, adoption and a new school
  34. Tom: A Cat without a Home or à  Why Noah is my Enemy
  35. Jack: Alpha Male or à If you don’t let me eat your dinner I’ll give it to you up the ass
  36. Water Guns & “Shooting teachers is bad” à My own Milgram experiment
  37. Finding Noah’s Middle Name: An email experiement
  38. Identity in the Workplace: Thoughts on Korean Culture through a Chang Rae Lee lens

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

Back on the Horse

I’ve been off the teacher-training horse for almost four months, and today I got back on it.

A new QuiLT (Qualification in Language Teaching) Program started today. We have 29 Ps (Participants) which makes the PT (Practice Teaching) schedule a bit wonky. Gina and I have 10 Ps each while Dave has only 9. Yet another logistical nightmare created by the always “disorganized” (I’m being exceedingly kind; there are other words I could have chosen to describe them) combination of English Village Administration and the Gyeonggido Ministry of Education. 

The group seems quite talkative and that usually bodes well for the goal of teaching English in English. There is one drawback to loquacious Ps; however, and that is  we will constantly need to remind them that it is important if the goal is communicative language teaching to reduce the TTT (teacher talk time) and increase the STT (student talk time). 

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

Exercise Vs. Blogging

Life has gotten busy again, so I have been forced to make choices:

To blog or not to blog?
To exercise or not to exercise?
These are the questions.
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
Tip-tap, tip-tap of the QWERTY key
Or to take arms, legs and body to the health club

I suspect that you can guess what my decision must have been based on my lack of postings. Yes, I have done a better job of getting to the health club than sitting down and composing random observation about my life.

Too bad one can’t blog and workout at the same time. I’ve tried to blog and ride the exercise bike but sadly the scribbles and sweat smeared ink were illegible. In fact it appears that I wrote “to redact or not to redact,” but why would I want to do that? Censoring one’s self seems rather defeatist for a blogger; however, the justice department is so politicized that it even feels the need to censor Supreme Court rulings (linkarchive).

Life has gotten busy again for several reasons; the start of a new year at Andy and BoA’s schools, new after school activities for BoA and Andy (Belly dancing and Taekwondo are out and English, Piano, and swimming are in), Jangmonim’s upcoming move (scheduled for March 14th White Day here in Korea), and the start of a new semester for me teaching in the HUFS TESOL program.

We also had to make time to get BoA’s passport renewed. Surprisingly, as much as I loath going to the American Embassy for the numerous bureaucratic nightmares which I have had to endure, renewing BoA’s passport was relatively painless. I wouldn’t call standing in line for the whole morning pleasant, but once we turned over the heap of documents (which included birth certificates, affidavits of marriage, and a photo album chronicling BoA’s existence in our family from the time of her birth to present) the renewal process went smoothly.

Anna will also need to get her passport renewed, but before she did that she had to check to make sure her 10-year American visa which I had to use political favors to get back in 2001 would still be good. Thankfully it is still good. Even though her passport will be cancelled, it does not invalidate the visa. She will, however, have to carry both her new and her expired passport with her when she comes to the US.

Speaking of things which have expired, I am still waiting for the state of NH to issue me a temporary driver’s license. They cashed my check over a month ago, but I still haven’t gotten the temporary license in the mail.   Maybe my bureaucratic nightmares will involve the department of motor vehicles instead of the American embassy. I think I’d prefer having a bureaucratic nightmare that I know rather than a bureaucratic nightmare that I don’t know. I’m not looking forward to having to go to the embassy to report Noah’s birth and to reinitiate Andy’s adoption process, but at least they are processes that I am familiar with because I have gone through them or tried to go through them before. More importantly I can deal with the bureaucrats at the embassy in person. I can only imagine how horrific my experience would be if I have to deal with the DMV personnel over the phone.

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008