Meet Moonhye

Trip Start Aug 18, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Korea Rep.  ,
Tuesday, March 22, 2011

During my occasional struggle teaching 30 children in one class at my main school Shincheorwon, I look forward to my Thursdays where I go to a school about 10 minutes away called Moonhye-ri Elementary school. I teach 4 classes all together, from grades 3-6 and each class has about 10-15 students. I have my own English classroom equipped with a flat screen TV, computer, surround sound and a large area to do movement activities. The whole atmosphere of the school is very postive and if I could be at this school 40 hours a week, I would!  The lunches are also the best of the three schools, and anyone who knows me, knows they can win me over with food!  Another plus for Moonhye! 

Although my Grade 3’s have the lowest level English, they are still a pleasure to be around and so fun. My grade 4 students have little English as well, but are so enthusiastic and will do anything I say willingly. My grade 5 students have pretty good English and understand most things I say, and just like to know about USA and about me. My grade 6 students have amazing English and I absolutely adore them. I hate to have favorites, but they are my favorite class. They usually are yelling out the windows welcoming me with “Ahhhh Johanna. Good morning! Do you have a boyfriend yet?” The best part is that they all have an outstanding sense of humor, which makes my day!  So, let's meet Moonhye Grade 6....

Meet Ven
Ven just figured out that his English name is actually Ben, but thinks it’s cool to be different so, Ven it is (but changed his nametag to Ben for the picture). His English is great and Ven gets very upset if he gets any question wrong in a game, he is very competitive.

Meet Leo
Leo has drawn a picture of Chucky on his name tag.  Leo loves using the words “kill, die, destroy, bomb, shoot, attack, thrash,” so, his favorite game is the ‘bomb game.'  It is a powerpoint game most every native English teacher uses.  When you get an answer wrong, a bomb will explode and you will loose all your points. This may worry some teachers in the states, but here in Korea, you don’t have to worry. They won’t bring a gun to school. It wouldn't even cross their minds.

Meet Jack
Jack never spoke English last year. Jack always just stared at me. Until, I introduced the sticker system.  You get stickers by speaking in English, winning a game or answering a question English of course.  If you get the most stickers, you win a prize at the end of the semester. Now, Jack loudly speaks in English and Jack gifts me goodies before the other students arrive in the classroom. What a smart one he is. Jacks sticker collection is increasing.

Meet Daniel
Daniel talks the entire class. Daniel has no interest in English. Daniel likes to eat and eat and eat. So, Daniel eats and Daniel doesn’t have any stickers.

Meet Louis
Louis lived in England for one year and has almost perfect English. He is always paying attention and yells at the others when they are talking when I am. Everyone wants to be on Louis’ team and be his friend in English class. You can just imagine how many stickers Louis has.

Meet Charly
Charly tells me to call him Andrea.  Charly likes to be girly I think.  Charly talks in a very high voice and Charly makes me laugh everytime as he bats his eyes at me when I hand out name cards. Charly tries very hard and has a decent amount of stickers.

Meet Sam
Sam smiles.  Sam smiles all the time.  Sam never stops smiling.  Sometimes I think Sam's face is stuck in this position permanently.  He is the sweetest of them all. I love Sam. Sam gets many stickers for his enthusiastic smile (and of course, for speaking English.)

Meet Lion
Lion has a mullet. Lion likes to have fun. You can’t blame him right? Well, Lion is the class clown, which means Lion puts on a show every class, therefore Lion gets stickers taken away.

Meet Fredy
Fredy likes to hit other people.  Fredy really likes to hit Lion, his best friend.  So, I usually try to have Fredy sit on the other side of the classroom, but, that is where the girls are. Ew. So, Fredy begs me every time to let him sit next to Lion.  Why do best friends like to hit each other at this age?  Fredy has no idea there is even a sticker system. 

Meet Kevin
Kevin sits next to Fredy, therefore gets in touble too. Kevin trys to explain it's Fredy's fault all the time, therefore I refrain from taking his stickers away because he is just accused with association.

Meet Tom
Tom has trouble speaking English and doesn't understand anything I am saying, but always seems to get lucky in games and win.  I don't know how, but Tom has accumulated more stickers than Louis.  Hey, at least he is trying!

Meet the girls: Emily, Andrea, Ivy
The girls sit on the other side of the classroom, as far away from the boys as they can. The girls say the boys are distracting and they can’t focus properly. What angels. They sit with me at lunch and keep me company, while everyone else is speaking Korean. The girls get some extra stickers, because, well, because they are such delights.

The sticker system will continue and I will reveal to you the winners at the end of the semester!

I was invited to a traditional Korean tea ceremony last semester, where Louis sat next to me interpreting what the teacher was saying step by step, so I didn’t look like an absolute fool in front of everyone. Sitting on your knees for 45 minutes (view photos below) was the least favorite part of this whole experience, although I had to suck it up while I was in front of the kids. 

As the Korean tea ceremony places emphasis on ease and naturalness, the whole ceremony is not as easy as it seems!  And there are few rules and rituals regarding its procedure (a few is an understatement). Water from a local source is generally preferred, and some tea houses had their own springs. Water is boiled over a wood fire, then poured into a teapot and used. The tea is initially poured into warmed cups, with the teapot held a certain distance above the cup to create bubbles in the tea. The bubbles are said to confer good luck. A lot of emphasis is placed on the tea towel and using the correct hand to pour and drink with, which of course, I messed up almost everytime!  But thanks to Louis, I got through it!

The Korean tea ceremony was traditionally used to revere the spirit of revered persons or ancestors. All I could revere were the poor Koreans who had to go through this tedious process, and in the unbearable uncomfortable leg position they had to withstand for hours. There was the "Day Tea Rite" which was a common daytime ritual and a "Special Tea Rite" for specific occasions.  Being proper and all takes effort and energy. Phew! After this experience, I was ready for a cup of beer, not tea! 

I thought I would never say this, but my Thursday classes just go by too fast.  If I had all the money in the world I would take them on a feild trip to USA.  But, I will have to opt to show them powerpoints of USA instead!  I hate saying goodbye and leaving these students, but know that I always have a day to look forward to....every Thursday! 
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