Em in Asia!

My Experiences Living and Teaching in South Korea



I’ve been pretty hard on my second graders recently, and as an apology for teaching them a difficult lesson on the nuances between “hope” “wait” “expect” and “look forward to,” I’ve been teaching my students “might” and “may.” This lesson is really fun, because it’s very student-driven and slightly cultural, as I’ve been teaching them MASH.

Now for those of you that grew up under rocks, or perhaps in another country, MASH is a prediction game played mostly by middle school girls. You give someone a certain number of categories (spouse, car, number of children, career, and the place they will live) and have them choose two possibilities for each category. Then their partner chooses two possibilities for each category, leaving the original person with four possibilities. There is one final category that you do not have a say in, and that is your future living situation. This is where MASH gets its name, as you can live in a Mansion Apartment Shack or House. After choosing all of these, you make a spiral until the person whose fortune you’re predicting says “stop,” then you use the number of “lines” in the spiral (much like rings in a tree trunk) to tell the person’s future by counting and eliminating choices until you have one left in each category.

We then figured out everyone’s future and shared out answers using “may” and “might” (i.e. “I might marry __________. We may have _____ children.”)

The kids went nuts.

The girls loved it because they got to tell their own future. Almost all of them married their celebrity crushes, lived in exotic locations, and had great careers.

The boys loved it because they could mess with each other. The worst MASH fortune I saw was a student who lived in a house in the Seoul subway system with 100 children as a dancer married to an awkward comedian who drove, of all things, a Lamborghini.

Anyway, the point of this post is that it’s sometimes fun to bring back things from middle school dust them off and try them again, even if I’m STILL not married to Christian Bale, nor am I living in London (stupid middle school predictions).

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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.