Sunday, February 25, 2007

Interior Blue

I stepped in to the Jeepney this morning to blue. The interior was blue and each passenger was wearing a blue uniform. I scanned quickly to see if there was a passenger without a uniform, and there was possibly one, but I glanced too quickly.

Every morning I catch a Jeepney in front of my house for an hour long ride to work. Although I've been doing this for over eight months, and think I've seen everything, once in awhile I'm surprised with a new experience.

I sat with my eyes closed, so tired. I felt eyes on me. I hated it. After 10 minutes of journey, the man next to me introduced himself and asked me some questions. Conversations with locals on Jeepneys have been few and far between. They happen, but generally it's not the forum where the locals speak to me.

I did my tired best to answer well. He said, "Where are you going?" I said Lipa. "But this Jeepney is not going to Lipa, it's going to LAWAS."

In my defense, every morning I catch a Jeepney out front of my house and the only two routes that come by are Lipa and Batangas. The signs in the front window sometimes have small lettering, and my eyes must have just seen the L and A.

I was grateful for the conversation and got off in Muzon where there are plenty of Jeepneys to catch to Lipa.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Avalon Method

So over the course of this week, the British Professor has mellowed out, I have a previous post here that I just re-read where I was a bit stressed over this guy.

It's going much more smoothly now, and I realize that if this method is adopted here, we will not be using it all day. My guess is that we definitely will be retaining our conversation classes. *Whew*.

For this method during the "New Work" stage, we are being instructed to teach the grammar rules behind why something is said a certain way.

Me: I will do this when it *reduces* confusion, only. Language is not geometry, you do not need a formula for learning any more than you need a geometry formula to cut out a triangle from a piece of paper.

We had a sentence the other day, the professor says, "Right, so how would you explain to a student why this is the proper usage?"

Blank Stares from us.

Professor: "You would say it's because it's the third conditional."

No, I won't be saying that.

So really, things are ok here now as far as that goes.

Students keep leaving, and I keep getting cards and presents and keep getting taken out to dinner.

Up All Night

Again. My younger, autistic son has issues. He's been keeping us up at night all week with violent tantrums, so Saturday I'm going to see if I can take him to a doctor for some sedatives. He's never been on meds before. I think he's always needed them, but I haven't gotten them. I'm glad that I've endured and waited. But now that he's getting in to adolesence and more powerful, it's got to happen. I have too many bruises and the quality of his older brother's life is important as well.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Training This Week

This week we have a few hours during the day for training in a new method of teaching with a visitng British professor from London.

It's dumb.

Actually, the grammar books for Avalon are much better than what we have here, but the Avalon system is ALL GRAMMAR all the time.

Our students are here for 6 hours a day, they each have three classes.

1 teacher to 1 student Grammar
1:4 Discussion
1:8 Discussion

Grammar is controversial, and I'm starting to understand why.
Intuitively we don't learn language by having grammar rules explained like it's a geometry formula. Students can get hung up on this. Speaking and listening practice is what engrains the grammar intuitively.

This method is not all bad, the students speak and listen for one hour, but they are saying 1 sentence at a time and being stopped mid sentence with corrections in a very intensive manner.

This professor even kind of makes fun of the students' prononciation, which is tricky. There are ways one can make that situation work to their benefit, but overall I think it's unwise.

I have students that aren't in the trial class with the professor reporting back to me that they heard he's a little rude.

The professor is not tuned in to Korean culture and he can't read from the behavior in the class room that this is an issue. The students are intelligent good sports, so the method seems to be effective, but...things aren't always what they seem.

It's just a fine line to walk. He also makes a big deal out of mistakes that make him look stupid because sometimes the mistakes are cultural.

While training with the Philippino teachers something came up that's a good example. Here in the Phils a lot of people don't have refigerators. The ones they have are really small and most include the freezer inside. So they open the fridge door to put frozen items in the freezer compartment inside. The only thing they say, though, is "Put it in the ref", people here do not distinguish and say "freezer"...because some people have separate gigantic freezers that they think of as 'freezers'.

So during class a Philippino teacher was playing the role of the student and the Professor asked him, "Where do we put ice cream?" and the training teacher said, "We put ice cream in the refrigerator." and the professor shouted and sputtered and made a big deal out of it, "No! We don't put ice cream in the refrigerator!" Like he was the stupidest person alive.

It's distracting, this kind of stuff. The professor thinks that it's upbeat and laughable and interesting to do it this way, because the others laugh, but it's really just distracting because he's making himself look dumb. And rude.

He makes big huge deals out of nothing. His classroom management is such that a student cannot look to the left or right. If they look to the left or right he asks them why are they not looking at him? What is intersting there? What do they need?

This guy is a headache.

More later...

Friday, February 16, 2007


This week has been so stressful. A bunch of teachers here got fired with no warning. The office here is very unprofessional, so there are communication issues daily. We have training this week by a visiting British professor, and while I'm excited, it's different and a bit stressful at the same time.

A scad of students finished the school this week, and they were a sentimental crying bunch.

Gotta go, meeting...

No. I logged out of this page, and headed to a meeting that really wasn't a meeting for me; another example of the communication around here.

When the students cry about leaving, it's hard. I hardened after the first bactch left a few months ago and told myself never again. But some of this group were so special.

It seems that many stressors are happening all at once this week, it's not a wonder that I feel the way I do.

I'm going to get some SoJu.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Well I'm in Love...

Well, I'm in love. I must post about Korean food. I found this great website, it's got a bunch of pictures of dishes.

The first section is meat. But scroll down to the rest. I'm so in love with Korean food, I wish I could eat it every day. I want to marry it. The food that I eat here in the Philippines at the Korean restaurant is just vegetables and spices, basicly. I LOVE Korean spices. They are not just hot, they are tasty.

Like majorly tasty! Now, I wonder how Koreans can tolerate food in other countries. Sure enough, the students here can taste all the salt in anything, because they are not used to eating salt laden food, just spicy, tasty food!

Korean food is very healthy, full of vegetables and prepared with spices that aid in digestion. Kimchee has been declared one of the healthiest dishes in the world, and I'd say it's one of the tastiest also.

I eat here at my friend's restaurant, and the students here say that the rastaurant ain't that great. But for me, it's good enough and I think that means that I would LOVE food in Korea and a Korean restaurant in Manila.

So at our table we've got dishes all over the table and knock back the Soju, which is actually disgusting but fun...and beer (come on, you don't need a link for beer!) and we discuss life and stuff and things. There's just nothing better than this.

I used to always order Dolcet Bibimbop, which is a rice and vegetable dish. I thought, yeah, you guys put a drug in this. But it's the red pepper paste that my mouth is enjoying. The other day I had the shredded beef soup, and it made my eyes water, but not in an uncomfortable way. That was the best soup I've ever had. This food is SO healthy. Mostly vegetables and spices.

You know what? I'm in love. I'm looking for a Korean husband now.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


As I type this, three feet away our famous student "Happy" is playing her portable piano and our school director is singing in Korean. She's got four fingers. Also she has almost no legs, like a torso and then feet. She can walk around, but uses a wheelchair mostly. She amazes me because she really plays that thing, with only four fingers. I'm seeing it, and I still don't get it.

Most of our students are leaving tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow. I'm pretty sad about a few of them going. After next week, I'll be glad there's not so much chaos around here.

Currently we have a British professor visiting. I'm atttending the seminar that he's giving tomorrow. We'll be learning some intensive teaching techniques. I'm kind of excited, because we're not exactly used to getting foreign visitors here besides Koreans.

Well Happy started singing, and it sounds pretty good, but I'm pretty sure that she's the one singing that horrible version of "Amazing Grace" that's on her CD. I thought it was someone else singing. They stopped playing that CD at lunch and I'm glad. Now we've got some groovy guitar music that plays, it's pretty cafe. I like it.

It's a fun atmosphere here.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Fish Water on My Feet

I ride Jeepneys two hours a day Monday to Friday. I've seen a lotta things.
Jeepneys are fun and comfortable in my opinion, I prefer them to buses. Why that is the case is a story for another time.

People bring anything and everything on to Jeepneys. Chickens, roosters, and buckets of fish are common. The fish buckets are no fun to sit near because the water splashes out on to the floor onto your feet.

The other day I was on riding to work in the morning, and this lady was being fussy with her fish buckets and took one bucket of water and poured it into another bucket to raise the water level, for no reason. She was being weird. The water splashed out on to my feet. The driver got mad and took her bucket and moved it to the front seat.

What's really strange is that the water doesn't smell bad. I don't know why that is, but when this happens to me, I don't walk around smelling like fish, which is awesome.

Oh Yeah, and I Forgot Dragon Cha

So here at the college when I started I was told that the students choose "English" names. At first, I was a little taken aback, because name changing is a bit controversial. Many cultures and countries have stories of being forced to change their names to accommodate the dominating influence of the time. In Korea's case, when the Japanese had control of Korea before WWII, Korean was outlawed, and the people had to take Japanese names.

Anyway, I didn't say anything, and over time I discovered that students preferred the English names and actually called each other their new names outside the college as well. They told me it was easier for them. I was like, 'wow, ok'

The students actually say "nicknames" instead of English names, which more accurately describes the situation.

Enter Dragon Cha.
Cha is his last name and he really likes Dragon Ball Z.

Scroll down for my other entry about names- I made an entire list and forgot 'Dragon Cha'...

So this entry should be a bit more captivating and creative, but my mood is gloomy and introspective today.

I've got some students near and dear to me who are leaving, and I'm dealing with my very first batch of rude students. I've never had that issue before.

It's a bit chaotic around here lately, and typically, it's quiet and controlled. With a larger group comes all new dynamics.

I'm getting really old, and it's so weird. It's foreign to me. I feel unhealthy at this time in my life, and I've got such a packed schedule that I don't know how to interject something new or different.

It's just a little phase.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

I Hate To Be Mean and Student Nicknames

But...that "Amazing Grace" Asian version is playing again over the speakers here, and I'd love to post it on the internet somehow so people could hear how terrible it is.

My first class of the day is killing me.
My second class is exciting, but the students have decided that class should be over at noon and not 12:10 because they are hungry and I agree, but I'm getting in trouble. I'm told, just make them stay. I can't do it. They close everything and put on their backpacks. Class three is awesome. Class four nobody has been showing up because they are almost all partiers in that class and if they drag themselves out of bed for the 8:30 bell then they are finished by 3.

Konglish Nicknames

The students here choose nicknames. I have a student named "Ho", which is no problem with me, because I don't have a low class sense of humor. What does make me feel weird is saying, "Hi Ho!" When I see him.

Other students names:
"Linkin", of course after Linkin Park
"Worrick", after Worrick on CSI. (And we have a "Nick" tribute to CSI)

We had two friends come together and one chose "Ralph" and the other chose "Lauren", and they are always together. They are "Ralph Lauren".

We have a "Rocky",
a "Wilson", yes, after the volleyball.
We have a "DaVinch"...not DaVinci, just DaVinch. He doesn't like the way "DaVinci" sounds. Ok.

One student chose the name "Jhon", and insists on that spelling.
We have a student named "Chez", I don't know why.
(We don't use the French prononciation.)

One student chose the name "Funny" .
We had one named "Swash", I don't know the story there either.
We had a "Toto", and one of my favorite students, "Sunday"
"Augustine" (was going to be a priest, now he's a rock star).

What's in a name?

Monday, February 5, 2007

Ugh, Sick

Last night I spent the entire night vomiting and having diarrhea. I am so worn out today.

Right now in the lobby of the college here they are playing some piano music, a little high strung on the vaudeville hijinx side. I'm happy when another song starts.

I'm so embarassed to be at school when I don't feel well. I look terrible and I'm not sociable. I need a nap.

I don't really know what's wrong with me, but everyone in our house from Sunday until now had the same thing. I think it was the hot dogs, but I don't know.

Why is Sprite, and 7-UP so good for this type of thing? I don't know, but it is.
I feel like I've been partying all night, but I don't have any good stories to tell.

I'm blogging because I'm afraid if I stop then I will get discouraged and not start again.

Stuff I should be flattered about:

Since the new schedule came out switching students between myself and the other native speaker, several students have scrambled to change the schedule again so they could remain in my class. For some reason, I feel numb and neutral about it when I should be like, yeah, I rule.

One, I really want the students to have a good time at the college no matter what they are doing. I really don't want them giving info to other prospective students, like, 'one teacher is good and the other one sucks'.

Another reason might be that I already know that I'm ahead of this guy. I guess since there's no competition, I'm just worried about the repercussions on the college instead of feeling good about myself.

This music has to go, someone is now singing Amazing Grace Asian style which is really high pitched and all over the place. Yay, I didn't even finish typing that and someone turned it off!!

Time for my 1:00 class.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

New Class

Well, they've changed the schedule here and today I've got mostly "new" students that the other teacher was handling.

In one way, I was glad to see it because my first class of the day for the last two weeks has been a painful group. Not interesting students. I can almost get no conversation going. It has a bit to do with their level, but I've had classes in the past with almost no level where the chemistry was amazing and we had fun exciting classes. This bunch, I don't know. Some students give me way too much credit and spread it around that I am a fantastic teacher, and one student even told people that I was the best teacher he's ever had, like ever.

No. It really is the students, because if you walked in to my morning class for the last two weeks, you'd see the grim truth.

So, now today is Monday (by the way, it's Philippines time which is one day ahead of this blog time) and my first class had different students but AGAIN this college found a way to stick more than three people with the same wet mop personalities all in the same class at 8:30 in the morning. The odds of this are slim, because the students here are fun, friendly and interesting. They look for ways to laugh and have a good time.

I think it would be better to have them later in the day. How did this happen? It's like the devil makes the schedule. So, that's my little rant for the momment. Then my second class came in. They are talkative. Very, very, very talkative, but only in Korean as they murmur to eachother while others are speaking English.

Okay...regroup. I've actually never had a class like that before. I never have a problem with a little Korean chatter. It actually helps the class along, because they engage in more interesting English conversation if they're stimulated by first chatting about something for a minute in Korean. We get better topics of discussion that way. But in this case, class number two, it was just flat out blabitty blah with no reason other than to not pay attention while the other people were talking. Not only can the rest of us not hear, but then people are not responding to what the speaker just said with their own questions, because they don't know what was said.

So this is new for me. I'll have that changed by the end of tomorrow, it's just that I've never had to talk with them about this before.

Really, I mean, doesn't that sound odd?

I've been here 7 months, you'd think I'd have run in to that. Nope. Classes here are joy on top of joy. These are new situations to me.

I have a headache right now, and I never get headaches.

I'd better go eat.

See the las entry below for a more interesting Konglish story.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Student Stories

So this morning in my 10:30 class I was reminded that I should post about Konglish.

Usually at the begining of each class, I ask the students, "What did you do yesterday?", and they practice their past tense English.

This is the part of class where they joke about eachother, and I hear some interesting gossip. Once "Young" was walking along the front of the dorm buildings and she saw "Ralph" in his underwear. That was a fun day. Or as the students would say, "It was a funny day."

Today "Alexander" said, "I went to the store... to buy some crack."

It took me a second. I just looked at him, and waited for the rest to see if I could figure out what he really meant. Turns out he meant to say, "crackers". Oh, I said, "crakcers". I explained to him the importance of saying crackers instead of crack.

He understood.
He said, "The name is OREO..."
Oh, I said, cookies. Unless you're from the UK where they say 'biscuits', but they're crazy over there, and I make the crazy sign with the circular finger motion to the side of my head.

"The taste was chocolate...very good."

One of my favorite things that the students say goes like this...


"I was very heavy drinking last night. I drank SoJu, and Beer, and Ginebra, but I don't know what time I went to bed. I forgot my memory."

Yeah. I hate when that happens.