Sunday, July 26, 2009

Intensives. Ready? GO!

Hi all,

A very brief post, and my apologies for not commenting last weekend. I've been, as I've mentioned before, job-hunting, therefore I'm not always free to blog of late. Hence, as well, today's short commentary.

I'm off this morning, up and at 'em nice and early, to go to the school, and teach our morning August Intensives class. Korean kids get two month-long holidays from school, one in January, and one in August. Unfortunately for the kids, that means extra study time!

They usually sign up for extra classes with a local hagwon, and in my case, I've got about 5 or 6 kids from Middle School and High School to teach. We're doing a debate class, and I'm a bit anxious, but hopeful that it will be decent.

Wish us luck!

Next weekend: Tokyo!


Monday, July 13, 2009

Holy Cow, Rain!

Hi all,

Title says it all. We went to Seoul to see Dave, our old coworker (now working in a public school in Banghak), and talk about downpour! It was brutal on Sunday morning trying to get back, and we were feeling a little tired.

We had met up to play some Settlers of Catan with Dave. For those that don't know about it, Settlers is an odd cross between Risk, Monopoly, and Empire Builder (an old train building game). It's neat, and highly interactive, and changes every time you play it.

Dave has highlighted in previous blogs of his the difference between public and private schools. It was neat talking to him and his friend Douglas about the fact that you can literally tell who goes to a hagwon and who doesn't: the level of English is like night and day.

It's a weird situation: Korea has a strong private system based on hagwons, although the reason they have the hagwons is the public school system is not very effective, emphasizing rote rehearsal of conversations in English. We therefore teach a lot to tests in the private system, helping students cram for the material that the schools don't make them ready for.

And of course, you still get students who can't speak English, despite having studied it for years, because they're expected to memorize words and grammar out of context. I have students in my advanced classes who are still blatantly struggling to find words, because they haven't learned how to speak fluently in class.

It's worse when you can't afford to go to a private after-school academy. Fortunately, the Korean government seems to be considering how to fix it, but whether it'll really change is anybody's guess.

For our part, Jen and I have our plane tickets back in hand. We have 30 working days spread across 6 weeks left, and we're feeling homesick for the first time in almost 8 months after the initial burst of it when we first got here. We're both pining for the return, but I know when we get there we'll miss Korea, too.

Weird feeling, all around.

Best to all,


Sunday, July 5, 2009


Hi all!

I've included the link above me words here to let you click on our pictures from Everland. We celebrated our 5th Anniversary there, and went shopping in Gangnam today to get some movies and other assorted stuff. It was low-key, but then, we *are* low-key on a general basis. 

It's been a neat five years. Jen and I got married in Kingston, at St. James Anglican Church, after dating for four years (off and on) in University. We met in residence where, gasp!, Jen was my Floor Senior.

Hilarity ensued.

In all seriousness, five years is a long time to be together, and I regret none of it. We've argued, yes, and we've fought, and Heaven knows there've been times when we've gotten annoyed, but there's a lot of good memories there. We've also loved, and gone out for dinner, and had long talks over bottles of wine.

So, while this is not exactly Korean news, let's just say that it is what's on my mind. We just finished watching movies--of all things, Punisher, but then, Jen and I both share similar tastes in movies. Still, I think we'll watch Coraline next. Something more... er... happy. 

Have a good night, ya'll. Less than 8 weeks left before we're Canada bound, and more to come, yet, I'm sure.