Em in Asia!

My Experiences Living and Teaching in South Korea



This week 2nd grade’s lesson is on similes and compliments. It’s a very heavily edited version of a former ETA’s lesson, but I’m rather proud of it because I managed to do something that students have been clamoring for but I personally don’t like doing in class – include a music video. Now I love music, but the thought of having to listen to the same song at least 20 times (more, if I play it for 1st grade) in one week is enough to make me steer away from including it in my classroom routine. I also just don’t really know how to incorporate songs – I don’t like just showing them as a hook without having the students somehow interact with the video, and my students are high enough of a level that I don’t want to do a random lyric-fill in (blank out some of the words and have the students listen and write them in), and I don’t have enough confidence in myself to teach my students how to sing a song. Couple all of that with choosing a song that has an appropriate message, appropriate video content (both appropriate for school, and also for their age – I don’t want to show anything too juvenile), AND understandable, and it becomes a nightmare. However, when you ask students what they want to learn in class and they say they want to hear and study pop songs, you should probably make the effort to teach at least one song.

I realized that the song “Firework” by Katy Perry was absolutely perfect for my similes and metaphors lesson. Not only did it have a great message (you’re unique, original, and you should “own the night like the Fourth of July”), but in every single stanza there’s at least one simile (ex: “do you ever feel like a plastic bag/drifting through the wind/wanting to start again?”) and the titular line of the chorus is a metaphor (“Baby, you’re a firework”). The video also shows many different types of people coping with difficult situations – there’s a kid who has cancer, a brother who wants to protect his younger sister from hearing his parents argue, a larger girl at a pool party who won’t get in the water because she’s self-conscious about the way she looks, a gay guy at a party who feels like he can’t be himself, a young kid with cancer, and a magician getting robbed (yeah don’t really get that one…). I was concerned about a few things with this video, but surprisingly enough my students made more of a big deal out of the fireworks shooting out of people’s chests (the first time you see it it’s a little strange) than the larger girl or the kiss sequence. To be fair, I haven’t taught this to any of my guys yet, so we’ll see how freaked out they get.

Watch here, it’s catchy:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGJuMBdaqIw [/youtube]

I did a lyrics fill in but I took out all of the nouns in the simile and metaphor constructions and had students listen to the song and fill in the lyrics. We then went over the difference between a metaphor and a simile using examples from this song, went over how to construct similes, and then I had them construct similes about their partners. We then went over cultural differences in accepting compliments (in America you don’t refuse the compliment, you say “thank you” and try to use it to keep the conversation going), and then I called on some students and had them present their simile compliments and had their partners practice accepting the compliments.

During the guided practice some of them, completely unprompted, constructed similes about me. Here they are:

“Emily is as smart as a smart phone (Galaxy Note).”
“Emily is as friendly as my middle school friends.”
“Emily is as funny as a toy box.”

posted under Cute Stories, School

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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.