Monday, November 11, 2013

Pepero Day, teaching Spanish, and foreign English teacher budget cuts

[As a part of National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), I'm posting here once a day during November.  Today is Day 11.]

I feel like there's so much to write about today!  I've got to make a list before I forget something:

  • Pepero Day
  • Photographing my Korean school lunches
  • Teaching Spanish to my 6th graders
  • Planning English winter camps
  • Upcoming open classes
  • Budget cuts for foreign English teachers in Gyeonggi-do

Here we go, I'm ready now.  Firstly, happy birthday Cathleen!  Also, thank you veterans!  And here in Korea, Happy Pepero Day!

Pepero Day

Pepero what?!  Remember that Korean convenience store snack I wrote about a few weeks back, essentially a cookie stick dipped in chocolate?

These are 빼빼로, which when romanized, is Pepero.  I found out today at school that November 11 is unofficially "Pepero Day" in Korea.  What could have only been a move to increase sales, the company began Pepero Day some 15-20 years ago on 11/11 because the sticks somewhat resemble the number 1.  Creative, eh?

11/11: Pepero Day in Korea

You are supposed to buy boxes of Peperos (or make homemade sticks) and give them to your friends or significant other - almost like valentines.  (Note: I found out that's why there was a cute postcard on the back of my Pepero box, so you can write the name of the recipient and a message).

My co-teacher (and many other Koreans, I'm assuming) don't like the holiday.  For poorer kids who can't afford Peperos, or kids without many friends, it's an unpleasant day to see other people receiving many boxes of Peperos.  They feel bad or un-liked, and there's no reason to bring that feeling upon young students when it can be avoided by not celebrating the day.

Regardless, I hadn't received any until my special class in the afternoon.  Before class started, a boy opened a package and was handing out single Pepero sticks to classmates and to me.  Then a girl gave me an entire box of Peperos!  And after class when students were leaving, another girl gave me a whole box of Peperos.  Here's what I took home:

Photographing my Korean school lunches

Since I moved to South Korea, the idea of taking a photo of my lunch every day during a week has been floating around in my head.  I thought it would be interesting for folks back home, and a nice memory for me to have in the future.

Sally at A Breath of Foreign Air posted yesterday a photoessay of... you guessed it - a week of Korean school lunches!  So that motivated me to make this week my school lunch photo week, and I'm tweeting them (#KoreanSchoolLunches if you want to join or follow along) thanks to Sally's suggestion.  No worries if you're not a tweeter -- I'll post all the photos on Friday, so now you have that to look forward to at the end of this week.

Teaching Spanish to my 6th graders

My sixth graders started a new unit today called "How do you say it in Korean?"  It's kind of a weird unit, but useful for them to learn that expression.  I'll learn many Korean words during the unit, as they get to teach me, which I'm excited about.  We used the last five minutes of class today for students to ask me "How do you say ~ in Spanish?", since I speak Spanish.

I have not spoken Spanish in a while, and it's very different to have a conversation with someone (which I'm very comfortable doing), versus having students ask you words and you have no idea what they'll ask.  But it was really fun!

They almost stumped me with "chalk".  I knew that I knew the word, but for a second my mind was blank.  Then it came to me another second later.  Other words that students asked: clock, desk, computer, notebook, soccer, dog, university, school, teacher, piano (we have one in the classroom)

I did not know "pencil case", so I made something up which was totally wrong... but they'll never know.  I looked it up between classes in case the next class asked me that one.  It's estuche.

One boy asked how to say "Russian roulette" in Spanish.  I just told him "I don't know".  I figured it was probably a cognate (it is, it's ruleta rusa), but I didn't want to make up any more fake words!

They think Spanish is hard because the words seemed difficult to pronounce, but I just think it's because I have the Spanish Castilian accent, and the "th" sound isn't the easiest for Koreans in the first place.  Nor "r"s.  

We ended the class with "adios"!  Oh Spanish, I miss you!

Planning English winter camps

I found out the dates of my 2-week winter camps this winter: January 6 - 17.  In our contracts, we teach 20 hours a week for two weeks during winter and summer breaks.  The other days of winter/summer breaks we sit at school for 8 hours a day without any classes.  You have 20 vacation days to use during the whole year, so I'll probably use 10 during winter and 10 during summer to go somewhere.

The winter camps will be for two groups: 3rd and 4th graders, and 5th and 6th graders.  I can decide if I want a week of 3rd + 4th grade for 4 hours a day, followed by a week of 5th and 6th grade or two hours of 3rd + 4th, followed by two hours of 5th and 6th for two weeks.  I can't decide which will be better for planning/teaching.  Any advice?

Then I need to pick a theme and start planning all those class hours!  The classes should be fun and interactive, and there's a budget for materials.  My co-teacher says the budget needs to be spent in November, so I really need to get planning now that I know a little more about these camps.

Open classes

I have an open class with 4th grade this Thursday.  It will be video taped, but I'm not sure who will be there to video tape it, or who will watch the class later.  I have this class planned, and I'll have three other fourth grade classes earlier in the day to work out timing and make adjustments with.

I found out today that next Wednesday I have an open class with the special English class that meets after school.  I think this one will be real people watching, but I don't know if it will be parents, the vice principal, other English teachers, or what.  It will only be open for 40 minutes instead of the whole 80 minute class.  I have zero ideas yet, but should plan something by the end of this week / weekend.  It's hard when it's so open ended!

Budget cuts for foreign English teachers in Gyeonggi-do

When I got home today, I read that the Gyeonggi-do Provincial Office of Education has cut its foreign English teacher budget in half for 2014.  (This is the province in which I teach).  This year they hired 1,207 foreign English teachers (native speakers), but next year they will only hire 746.  I'm not sure what this means for UW-Madison's TTG program, but I am sure that I'm glad I made it here before Gyeonggi-do drastically cut its foreign English teacher budget.  (I seem to have good timing, as the same thing happened the year after I taught in Madrid).

Bed time for Reca - - Hope you're all having a Marvelous Monday!
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