3.1 Spring 2021

June 18, Race to the Finish

Sometimes I take a pause at the beginning of my fourth grade classes and look at their precious little faces.

Well, what I can see.

They’re really cute! And they love chatting with me after class while I unplug my USB and pack up. Many in the shyest class demand extra, personal high fives. Or just jump up and down in my vicinity. They want attention and hey, I’ll give it to them!

Fifth grade was also super cute today. 5-1 tried hard even though they’re normally very quiet. I like to think I bring out their fun side.

There’s a special kid in class who often frustrates his classmates with random outbursts but he also tries, even if he doesn’t quite understand directions. Love to see it!

I designed a straightforward lesson: watch a quick topical video and tell me what you saw using our future tense grammar, do five minutes of book work, then play a writing race game.

The funny thing is in my mind it’s not a game but with a sprinkling of competition, the kids go nuts. It’s like their catnip.

I found an activity on an ESOL site and modified it. I split the class in two and gave the same set of cards to each team. Students had to listen for the key word on their card then race to the board when their turn came to write the full sentence. I kept a list of target sentences on the TV for kids who needed a bump.

They had to practice their listening, writing, and, inadvertently, running skills.

5-2 was especially cute and the teacher even asked to be a team member. She raced my lovable troublemaker Seungbin to the board but lost.

Later, she filmed bits of class, presumably for her ESOL course. She asked for permission awhile ago and I think I’ll need to ask her for some videos later. I never get to see my class from an outside perspective and I’d love to get my crazy kids on film.

These kinds of activities are my favorite. I don’t like being stuck clicking at the computer and this “low tech” method works best for me and students, given that outside of a computer and TV there’s no technology to use.

In a surprise turn, I also saw a hot dad outside the cafeteria. But he looked too young to have at minimum a six year old so I was baffled. Is he a new teacher? Someone’s uncle? A really young dad? Or does his age show in the places covered by his mask? I’ve been fooled before.

Not to mention, there was an influx of Korean Navy guys in uniform at the gym. That explains a lot— there’s no local college so the only supply of college aged men must be from the navy base.

As it was later than I usually go, the shower was full of women finished with yoga class. One took a curious peek; it was probably her first time to see a naked foreign woman and she was curious what if anything might be different.

In my nude times in Korea I’ve found naked people to be unremarkably similar. Which is kind of remarkable, given how different we all are from each other with fashion and hairstyles and make up.

No matter the size or shape, without clothes we’re just bodies with slightly different colored nipples.

Korea has taught me all kinds of lessons.

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