Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Multimedia Monday: Annie Get Your Gun

Shamelessly repeating an old post from my CELTA days.  This time it has the benefit of hindsight: I actually did use this song in a lesson, and it worked very well—it was actually the first (and only) "Above Standard" I got on the whole course. The instructor just went bananas over it and the students liked it, too— though this wasn't the entirety of the lesson, it was the closing activity and, everyone agreed, the best part.

Before I started the song or even handed out the lyrics sheet, I put some assorted tasks from the lyrics (and some other random ones) on the board and asked the students to sort them by "what can men do well" and "what can women do well." If you have the time, it can be a fun debate.

Then I handed out the lyrics with the comparatives all blanked out.  They filled those in as best they could, then we listened to the song to check answers. Most of them found it pretty easy. The second time, we listened to see which things the girl could do better and vice versa, as well as which ones neither singer talked about.

The hip thing to do among younger teachers is to break out the Daft Punk when they get to comparatives, but I think this one works much better. (Maybe use the Daft Punk for filler if the class catches on supremely quickly, but not for the bulk of the lesson.)

You can find other videos I've used (or considered using) at the Multimedia Monday tag; use the YouTube Downloader if your classroom computer is offline but you want to use videos from YouTube.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Multimedia Monday: Shrek

I'm generating material for a new textbook. If I understand my boss correctly, the franchise headquarters is considering dropping their kids' hagwons (like ours) in favor of focusing exclusively focusing on adults. The owners of this particular branch don't know if or when this will happen, but they want to have material ready just in case it does. My boss and I both agree that the movie/music/novels curriculum is much preferable to just straight-up textbook drilling, and that even if HQ drops us, we'd want to keep that curriculum style. This is why I'm writing questions for, and summarizing scenes from, Shrek.

I like Shrek a lot, I'll admit it, even if DreamWorks is monetizing the life out of it. I like it for a lot of reasons, but what's nice about Shrek compared to the other movies they've studied so far (Elf, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, Ice Age) is that it has a pretty good soundtrack, with lots of good pop songs to choose from. Yeah, even the song by Smashmouth.  I'm sorry. I'm not including it here, though, because I don't think it's really a good song for EFL students (lyrics don't exactly make sense).  Also, everyone hates it.

Here are some good ones that people still like, as far as I can tell.

Oh, The Proclaimers.  National band of Scotland.  If nothing else, I'm sure the trippin' balls music video will entertain my kids.

The version in them movie is apparently a cover by Halfcocked, and not the original Joan Jett.  But since Joan Jett is the queen of rock 'n roll, I posted the original. Minor controversy here, since the refrain does have low-level profanity in it, but since my kids are studying Green Day's "Basketcase" ("I went to a whore, he said my life's a bore...") I think it's kosher enough for this particular classroom.   Besides, "I don't give a _____ about ______." is a great idiomatic expression to learn.  (Activity idea: have a contest to see who can come up with the funniest thing to fill in the blank: "I don't give a ________ about homework!")

So I lied, I am totally including the other Smashsmouth song from the soundtrack, which I honestly prefer to the Monkees' version. And unlike All Star, the lyrics make a bit more sense than just a bunch of almost-puns.  (Thanks, Neil Diamond.) Trying to track down the version I remember from the "Jukebox" bonus feature on YouTube—the one where Eddie Murphy sings—is pretty impossible.  The only one I can find has the dialog in Spanish, which is not really helpful for me.  So, instead, have one of the myriad versions of the Eddie Murphy-less one matched up with a Shrek AMV.

And finally, Leonard Cohen as covered by Rufus Wainwright. (Even if John Cale's version is better.)  Not sure if I'll use this one—it's a bit too mellow and melancholy to capture the attention of frenetic nine year olds.  But if they could get into Cat Stevens, they might like this. Still, the other songs I listed will definitely get the higher priority.

For other videos, there's always the Multimedia Monday tag.  And if you need to pull any of these videos from YouTube on to a thumb drive or hard drive or whatever, you can't go wrong with YouTube Downloader HD.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

You encounter: Yet Another Lady at the Jjimjilbang!

This one, unlike my other two, was much shorter.  I was staying at a jjimjilbang with a friend who was leaving Seoul this past Friday night.  While I was sitting in the hot tub, feeling kind of glum and melancholy about his imminent return to Busan, I suddenly felt a tapping on my shoulder.

It was one of a crowd of ajummas who had been sitting in the Really Quite Hot tub.  She held an ice cube between her fingers and, in the manner of a doctor with a young patient, said simply, "Ahhhh."

Even though I knew exactly what was going on, I was still surprised to find the ice cube in my open mouth. I made a noise of surprise, mostly garbled around the ice cube that prevented me from saying a proper thank you, and the ajumma laughed and smiled and went back to her friends.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy Lunar New Year!

In keeping with the spirit of Multimedia Monday, a nice (if couple years old) video about Seollal and Seollal traditions.

It's the year of the water Dragon this year.  Anyone turning 12, 24, 36, etc, should have a good year, but it should be especially auspicious for everyone turning 60 (more or less).  

Bonus, enjoy this Etsy treasury I made for the occasion. 

'Lunar New Year!' by Kokoba

















Enjoy your ddeok guk, everybody!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Student Profile: Alex

Alex runs on rocket fuel, in a nutshell.  He is loud, forever wandering out of his seat, a champion nose-picker, and seems to lack a filter between his brain and the rest of his body.  I spend a lot of time tying his shoes because he doesn't seem to have mastered that life skill yet.   His English is also incredibly uneven: he can recall pretty advanced words and idiomatic expressions from the movies we watch much better than most of his peers, but when it comes to spontaneous communication with me, Alex defaults either to Korean or extremely fragmented English.

Alex is the one in the red, grey, and black striped sweater, along with the huge grin.

Despite all of this, I like him a lot.  He does mean well (unlike another Alex I had, who also ran on rocket fuel, who seemed to delight in the discomfort and rage of his peers) and he's surprisingly affectionate.  The best part, though, is that he's just so happy.  Alex always has a big cheerful smile on his face and he always looks happy to see me.   It's like everything around him is just so awesome.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Multimedia Monday: Cat Stevens

Another lesson courtesy of Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. One scene features this song by Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens), and I decided it would be a good change of pace to do a listening activity.

The lyrics are very straightforward, with relatively simple language.  I had my students work on a fill-in-the-blank activity with the lyrics beforehand, then we watched/listened to see if they got it correct.  I imagine you could easily play a memory game or have a writing activity after the video, as it has a rather cohesive narrative.  For my students, though, it would have been redundant.

The song went over surprisingly well with the younger intensive course.  I wasn't really expecting Yusuf Islam's mellow acoustic stylings to be at all popular, but we ended up listening to this song three times in class.   By the third time, they had the song pretty much figured out, and cheerfully sang along.

Again, if you ever want to use this or other videos on YouTube in an Internet-less classroom, YouTube Downloader HD always works very nicely for me.  Other videos and activities I've used can be found via the Multimedia Monday tag.

Friday, January 13, 2012

I React to Western Adults Reacting to Western Kids Reacting to K-pop

I don't know about elsewhere on the Internet, but LiveJournal's "Oh No They Didn't" community, at least, is having a massive hatefest over "Kids React to K-pop."  My reactions are entirely based on how the K-pop fans at ONTD are taking it, but if  Roboseyo is to be believed (which I think he is), the entire K-pop army has similarly imploded at the sight of it.

Here's the video, it's gone down periodically but hopefully now it's up for good:

If it goes down again, the Cliff's Notes version is: comedians show kids videos of things, film their reactions, edit them together, and put it on the Internet.  This particular instance was kids reacting to K-pop: Girls' Generation, Super Junior, and 2NE1 in particular.  And at first blush, I thought it was funny.  Shit, I still DO think it's funny (sometimes the kids are a little too performative, but hey, they're kids).

On the one hand, I try to think about stuff like this.  And certainly, upon reflection, I realized that a bunch of white kids mugging up their incomprehension at Korean pop music for the camera is kind of...unfortunate.  But they're kids, and they're being cajoled into being funny because presumably they know this is going on a video for YouTube for millions of people to watch.  Everyone is an attention whore at some level, but especially little kids.

Instead, as only one commentor on ONTD (in ten pages of comments) pointed out, we should really be thinking about the adults who picked the videos: if they picked certain videos hoping for a specific effect, if they goaded the kids off-camera, and so forth.  They're the ones creating and perpetuating the white hegemony, and so on.  But no, everyone on ONTD immediately goes on their "herp this is why I'm child-free" rants because they enjoy having the license to be bitter about kids, instead of taking a moment to consider the man behind the curtain (or video camera, as it were).

And finally, I love all the butthurt from the K-pop fans about how "the music's really good they don't know what they're missing waaaaaaaah"  Seriously? Seriously?  There are great Korean musicians and talents, but trying to argue that they're coming out of the child abuse factory that is JYP (or whatever other company) is so ridiculous I don't know where to begin. If anything, talent emerges in spite of it, not because of it.

And child abuse isn't an exaggeration, either.  Limiting teenage (read as: still growing) girls who do intense bouts of cardio every day to just 1200 calories?  Abusive and potentially metabolically damaging.  Bear in mind, K-pop groups train for years before they ever even drop a single, and so many debut when they're just sixteen or seventeen years old, or younger. That means training at thirteen, fourteen, fifteen.  Shit like that can fuck up your body for life. Not to mention the long and exploitative contracts, exhaustive touring schedules, and so forth.  But K-pop fans like to conveniently ignore that and just continue to squeal about how CL is just so ~fierce~.   DANCE MONKEY DANCE.  ENTERTAIN ME.

Embracing K-pop but rejecting American pop  just because the latter is ~Korean~ and therefore ~exotic~ is nothing more than a bunch of bullshit exoticizing/eroticizing the Other.  Liking something just because it's Korean isn't really a whole lot better than disliking something because it's Korean.   And guess what?  If you haven't seen it before, K-pop is going to look really fucking bizarre.  It still looks bizarre to me (even if I get the larger cultural framework in which it fits), because I didn't grow up with it for twenty-odd years, but I get where it fits in the scheme of things.

What I also notice about Koreaboos/weeaboos is that there's a certain segment (not all of them, by any stretch) that only catches the stuff that floats the top—in other words, the bands and songs the industries really push to make internationally.  It's like they're only interested in a shallow, surface-level interaction with another culture; it never occurs to them that Korea or Japan would be capable of producing any kind of indie music scene. I'm not trying to play the hipster card, here ("I like Neon Bunny, but you've probably never heard of her.") but rather pointing out that it takes a minimal amount of digging to find some really great treasures (thanks, IndiefulROK!).  Like me saying, "Oh, I really like Korean movies!" having only seen Oldboy and The Host.  "The Housemaid? No, never heard of it."

I bet if you had kids react to this video from Linus' Blanket, there'd be a lot less cultural befuddlement and all of the bullshit Koreaboos wouldn't know what the hell this was.  Here, have a palate cleanser.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Multimedia Monday: Kermit the Frog

Right now my intensive classes are watching Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, which has a brief cameo from Kermit the Frog.

One of my questions was: "What's Kermit doing?"


"The frog.  What is the frog doing?"

And I realized that duh, these girls didn't grow up watching Sesame Street or The Muppet Show.    I found  these two clips from Sesame Street and showed them the next day.  They went over well in both of my classes, both the high level and the lower level.

They liked the second one a little bit better, mostly because Elmo acts like such a weirdo. "IDEEEEEEEEEA?"  But both videos got laughs and, more importantly, comprehension.

If you want to watch these or any other videos in your classroom, but you don't have Internet, I again recommend YouTube Downloader HD.  For other supplemental/time-filler ideas (as if you couldn't use YouTube yourself, I know), check out the Multimedia Monday tag.

Friday, January 6, 2012

You Encounter: Another Lady at the Jjimjilbang!

I patronize one of the local jjimjilbangs more often than any real Korean ever would (probably).  My apartment has a tiny water heater and I am a lazy and indolent piece of crap.  I like lazing about in my bathing and enjoying myself, rather than a panicked flight to wash as much of myself as quickly as possible before the hot water runs out.  Thus, I allow myself a seven thousand won indulgence a few days a week to have a really nice shower, with bonus sauna and gym/"health room" time (if that seems ridiculous, it's honestly cheaper than any gym prices I've seen, plus if I don't go on any given day, then at least I'm not wasting money on a gym membership).

Most of the time I pad around in the sauna/bathing area without having to deal with anyone or anything.  Once in a great, great while, I get someone having a conversation with me.  It's always really interesting and I kind of wish it happened more often.

 Last week, for example, I had a lovely chat with a woman who called herself Mrs. Hong, conducted in equal parts Korean and English. Mrs. Hong had lived in Germany for some number of years, and she remarked that people in Germany were so much friendlier and happier than Koreans.  "I was walking, and people said, 'Hello!'  Korean people...do not."

Unfortunately, I didn't learn why or for how long she had lived in Germany.  I never to think to ask these questions in the moment because I'm too busy panicking about what I'm going to say (in English or in Korean) and making sure I don't look pissed off.  I kind of suffer  from Chronic Bitchface:

Fortunately Mrs. Hong was cheery and energetic enough to keep the conversation going.  She asked me if I liked Korea (of course!), what I liked about Korea (the food, the culture, the people), and if we have saunas in America (not like it is here).  She even asked about the bum ankle I was stretching (too much soju in the noraebang) and offered to scrub down/dry off my back when we were finished in the bath.  Unfortunately, Mrs. Hong had found me right when I was winding down my visit; I had already been thinking about leaving before our conversation even started, because I needed to catch the bus to work.  I explained that I had to leave and apologized.

If this were anywhere else in Korea—the subway, for example, or waiting for a bus—this would have been a moment of exchanging business cards, possibly cell phone numbers.  When you're naked in a 40* C hot tub, however, that's understandably not going to happen.  Kind of a bummer, because I would have loved to talk to Mrs. Hong some more.  So I simply introduced myself, shook hands, and wished her a nice day (and apologized profusely about having to leave).

One of a myriad of sentences you could use to describe teaching in Korea: "You will have conversations with naked strangers, and it won't be weird at all."

Monday, January 2, 2012

Multimedia Monday: Viral Marketing and Mummers

This edition of Multimedia Monday is brought to you by the first installment of my advanced students' new textbook: "Viral Marketing."  Great opportunity to bring in some real life examples.

(For other videos, you can find all of the Multimedia Monday posts at this link. As always, I recommend using YouTube Downloader HD to save these and other videos if your classroom doesn't have Internet.)

After some beginning of class chit-chat ("How was your New Year? What did you do?"),  I played this clip for my kids.  Before I hit play, I asked them to think about what the ad was trying to sell.

They were pretty much horrified; at thirty-five seconds in they started really losing their shit.  If you're going to do this, please find a discreet way to take pictures of your students' faces because seriously, the reactions are priceless.  After it finished, I asked them a quick follow-up question.

"What is this commercial for?"


"Mm, not quite.  Here's one more."

"Teacher, why he smile?"

"He really likes his blender."

I asked them again what the commercial was selling, and one of the more vocal students sussed on it right away this time.  "Ah! Mixer."

"Do you like these commercials?"



I put some of their answers on the board, because in the book they have a mind map on the topic (eg, viral marketing) to fill out and they always like to do that part together.  I got responses like "funny," "unique," and "surprising."  We also talked about whether or not they're popular commercials, why they're popular, where we would see them, if they would show a video like this to their friends, and so forth.

I'm sure you could expand on it from here (have students write [and film?] their own "Will It Blend?" or other ad, eliciting Korean examples of viral marketing), but after this I just worked through the requisite pages in their textbook.  We also watched some more "Will It Blend?" videos.  All of these got really popular responses:

The iPad was the most popular one, but this was a pretty close second.

Also very well-received, plus it has brand recognition (SPAM) and gross-out factor.  This, the glow sticks, and the two I mentioned earlier were the most popular ones.  (I actually let them watch the iPad one again during a break.)

This is pretty talk-y in the middle, as he reads excerpts from Justin Bieber's autobiography.  Lower-level students might tune out, but intermediate and advanced students shouldn't have a problem.  The presenter has good enunciation and let's face it, it's Justin Bieber's autobiography.  We're not talking about Ulysses, here.  You'll want a camera for their reactions at 1:36 or thereabouts.

This one is also pretty talk-y, so lower-level students might disengage while the salesman is yammering on about the Fiesta.  But they thought the green-screened projections and final shot were pretty funny.

(maybe not relevant if you're not from [near] Philadelphia)

Of course, not all of my students are in the advanced class with the textbook.  Since today was kind of a lost day (I can't really review anything on the first day of a new movie),  I also had a  Mummers Parade lesson.

I drew a grid on the board.  On the left hand side I put: "EAT," "DO," and "WEAR" each in their own row.  On the top I put "U.S." and "SOUTH KOREA" in their own column.

If there had been more time for me to prep, I would have made up one of those "mix and mingle" worksheets, where each group has a select few pieces of information in a grid and they have to talk to everyone to fill out the whole thing.    Instead, we just talked it out: what does each country eat, do, and wear for New Year's?  (You'll probably also want pictures of funny hats, the ball in Times Square, noisemakers, and so forth.)  (I'll probably do all of these things tomorrow, assuming I have time to prep some things before I leave for work.)

This was a good opportunity to introduce myself, actually, since in my first two classes today I had a few completely new students who only knew my name.  I had them guess where I was from, and then explained that this is a New Year's tradition in my home (or "home") town:  people dress up in fancy costumes, play music, dance, and have a big parade in the city. (I skirted the fact that many of them are probably still wasted from New Year's Eve.)  I found this clip after a bit of digging (many of the other ones online are people's home videos so the quality isn't so great; this is an excerpt from the news coverage so there's very little ambient noise and the announcers are thankfully silent throughout).

I asked them basic "what" questions throughout to keep them from zoning out (while this was popular in some classes, it wasn't as popular as "Will It Blend?"): "What is his job?" and "What is that?" and "What animal is that?" and so forth.  I taught every single class today the words "mermaid" and "merman," productive!  I don't think I'll be teaching them to strut, but maybe we'll sing "Golden Slippers." ;)

The Mummers Parade is one of those things I don't realize I miss until it rolls around and I realize I can't just veg out in front of the TV on January first to watch it.  Of course, when I'm home, I don't park myself on the couch for the whole thing, but it's nice to be able to drift in and out of it.  So I do the next best thing I can: find clips from last year's parade online.

Happy New Year! 
새해 복 많이 받으세!