Em in Asia!

My Experiences Living and Teaching in South Korea

A Cup of Coffee Please


One thing I need to get better at doing is unit planning, and planning out my semester so that it makes sense. If you look at my topics they’re all individually good (I hope) but the order in which I teach them makes no sense, and there’s no real connection from week to week.

Last week I taught PBFV pronunciation. I like to do pronunciation lessons in-between other writing or grammar intensive lessons, or right after tests because there are so many fun and interactive things you can do with pronunciation. After making the students write postcards for fifteen minutes, I figured that doing a pronunciation lesson would be a nice, if abrupt, change. I showed them mouth-shape diagrams, we practiced tongue twisters that I had to make up (there’s a sad dearth of FV tongue twisters):

A cup of coffee please (p versus f)
Please don’t feed the bees peas (p, f, b)
The vehicle fee is very fairly voluntary (v versus f)

This week we’re teaching articles, which has no connection whatsoever to pronunciation. I wanted to save this lesson for later in the year, but it’s a two-week unit and this is the only point on my schedule where I teach every single class two weeks in a row with no interruption. As articles are really difficult (there are no articles in Korean, not in the same sense anyway), and as I was teaching articles as a set of four rules, two rules per class, it was important that these classes were taught back-to-back.

The one of the rules that I’ve been teaching this week are “countable versus uncountable” (“a stick of coffee,” countable, versus “coffee,” uncountable). I’ve been demonstrating the difference by showing a stick of coffee, then opening it up and pouring it into a mug (which, for some reason, always gets kids gasping about. TEACHER WHAT ARE YOU DOINGGG? – it’s baffling, really) and showing the coffee powder and asking students to count that. As I walked in, BAD, being the smart alec he is, yelled out “could I have a cup of coffee please?” I response I pulled out my stick of coffee and ask if he really wants one. The look on his face just about made my day.

So, I guess, there are some ties between my lessons after all?

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안녕하세요! My name is Emily and when I started this blog I had received a 2010 – 2011 F*lbright grant to teach English in South Korea.  I then decided to apply to renew my grant, so I am now staying in Korea until July 2012. This blog is not an official F*lbright Program blog, and the views expressed are my own and not those of the F*lbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations.

I graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a degree in Philosophy Pre-Law and Classical Civilizations, and found myself 3 months later teaching English at SGHS. The town that I taught in, SG, is a small town of 12,000 people, an “읍” (eup) rather than a “시” (shi – city), and though it was sometimes hard teaching in such a small town I really enjoyed the unique experience of being the first foreign teacher SGHS had ever had. I lived in the largest part of the county which is significantly bigger (40,000 people) than the town the school is situated in, but is also considered rural by Korean standards.

During my second grant period (2011-2012) I decided to change schools and I currently teach at CPHS which is located in an even smaller town than previously, in Jeollanamdo.

This blog is meant to serve as a reflection not only of being a Native English Speaking teacher in Korea, but also of living as a foreigner in rural Korea.