Category Archives: Teaching & Methodology

Caveat: Student Goodbyes, Part 1

I didn't make it an official homework assignment, but I told my students I would welcome thoughtful goodbye messages. Mostly the elementary kids wrote on paper, while the middle schoolers wrote me emails. I will scan the handwritten messages tomorrow … Continue reading

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Caveat: I’m an apostrophe

As mentioned before, we have this thing at Karma called "CC" class – a somewhat opaque name for what are essentially focused listening exercises using English-language pop songs. Mostly, these days, I can proudly say that my initiative to have the … Continue reading

Posted in Background Noise, Banalities & Journaling, Kids, Not My Poetry, Teaching & Methodology, The Wonders of Work | 1 Comment

Caveat: on the desirability (or not) of movement

I have a student named N__. Because the current "test prep period" for middle schoolers (colloquially called "내신") is just now ending, a lot of students are still absent, so much to N__'s dismay, she found herself stuck with me … Continue reading

Posted in Background Noise, Banalities & Journaling, Kids, Teaching & Methodology, The Wonders of Work | 1 Comment

Caveat: 스무th

Today at work I saw a student (I’m not sure who) had added a comment to one of my whiteboard alligators. They gave the “annoyed alligator” something to say, with a speech bubble. What he was saying was, “스무th” [seumu-th] … Continue reading

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Caveat: those alligators of sentimentality

The toy plastic alligators are a part of my teaching schtick – the kids enjoy them, including even the normally standoffish middleschoolers. But these "made in China" toy alligators break easily. I go through one every month or so, and … Continue reading

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Caveat: Fine, thank you. And you?

This Japanese TV commercial is quite funny. The cultural issues surrounding English education mean that the scenario applies equally well in Korea. Even the students who learn almost zero English nevertheless know how to answer, "Fine, thank you. And you?" … Continue reading

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Caveat: The best part of my family is…

We were doing short-speech responses to speaking questions. The question was, "Do you like your family, or not? What are the best and worst parts of your family?" 6th grader Jaehyeon, incorporating a very long pause as he groped for … Continue reading

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Caveat: A man who wears many hats

Today is the big show. It'll be a long day, but the end is in sight. The results will be what they are, and there's not much left to be done except just do the show. Last night my student … Continue reading

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Caveat: Finger-knitting

In principle, I really enjoy the annual talent show concept we do with the elementary-age kids at Karma English Academy. It takes me back to my own elementary years, at the "hippie" Centering School in Arcata, where for each hour … Continue reading

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Caveat: Premises and implications among 7th graders

This exchange actually happened in a 7th grade advanced class. Julie: I don't like smart peopleJames: I'm smart!Julie: So I don't like YOU.…Tobias: That doesn't make sense.…James (glaring at Tobias): Hey! I found this incredibly funny, not to mention indicative … Continue reading

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Caveat: Cost me all of seven cents

What I'm listening to right now. Sesame Street Co., "The Alligator King." This is actually a really good song. Yet despite being from Sesame Street, it's probably too hard (in terms of vocabulary) to teach to my students for whom … Continue reading

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Caveat: Thealligu +or wins

My 5th grade student John recently started at Karma. He has never studied English before, so in the context of Korean English education, he's a rather "late starter." It's hard to place him at a place like Karma, because classes … Continue reading

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Caveat: A moment of empathy

On Saturday mornings, these days, I have a pop-music listening class (cloze passages and comprehension) with some advanced students. I have been making them find their own songs, prepare the materials (e.g. the cloze passages) themselves, and present the class, … Continue reading

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Caveat: my banggwang is endless

Most students play around during the short breaks between class periods. Then, when the second bell rings, they ask earnestly if they can run to restroom. This is perfectly rational: they want to maximize their fun-with-friends time and minimize the … Continue reading

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Caveat: The worst possible gift

The below is paraphrased, because the level of English is a bit lower than is easy to quote directly – there are a lot of re-phrasings and "do you know what I mean?" from me, and from the student, a … Continue reading

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Caveat: A message for the spies

Some months ago, the whiteboard in room 212 had been coming loose. There was worry that it would fall down at an inopportune time, so Curt told Mr Park (the 과장님 – literally "supervisor" or "chief" but really he's a … Continue reading

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Caveat: the testaments they told

What I'm listening to right now. The Chainsmokers (with Coldplay), "Something Just Like This." The video is "unofficial," but cute and sappy. This was a song chosen by one of my middle-school CC classes recently. I'm letting them choose their … Continue reading

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Caveat: Eiffelgators

Another picture in what seems to be turning into a series of student artwork inspired by my whiteboard cartoon alligators. There seems to be a sort of competition emerging among the youngest cohort of students, as to who can present … Continue reading

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Caveat: I need to see that

We were looking at Christmas song videos the other day, in a middle school class – as a kind of reward at the end of class. So I was searching on youtube, and it was up on the screen with … Continue reading

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Caveat: Actually, your behavior is pretty weird

I had my middle school 7th grade cohort, HS1-T, write "Letters to Santa." But the idea was to create coherent, reasoned essays. They are my most talented class, linguistically and intellectually, if not, erm, motivationally. I think in this case, … Continue reading

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