Teaching presentations at Korea Post

5 09 2012

This is my last week teaching at KEOTI, the training arm for Korea Post.

To hear KEOTI employees tell it, Korea Post is esteemed throughout Asia for their leadership in postal logistics. So KEOTI employees host international postal workers here in Cheonan and visit Thailand and other Asian countries to attend postal conferences. Guess what the common language is for postal workers throughout Asia?

Yesterday capped a day-and-a-half of teaching employees how to present in English, which reminded me of my project manager’s favorite motto,

“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

We plowed through nine 50-minute classes, including Making Introductions, Presenting Visual Data, Closing & Summarizing and everything in between.

Not all of my activities scored, but after watching Oppa Gangnam Style and Pusan Vacance, my students used their Comparing & Contrasting language well:

  • In contrast to Gangam Style, which features choreographed dancing, Pusan Vacance features people freestyle dancing.”
  • Similarly, Gangnam Style and Pusan Vacance both have simple rhythms.” And my favorite:
  • Unlike Oppa Gangnam Style, which features sexy Korean women, Pusan Vacance features sexy non-Korean women.”


The prospect of teaching 25 students intimidated me initially, but we ended up having only ~12 students per class. I wonder if my feedback last week impacted which employees were able to attend class this week.

Mr. Yu, the head of HR, told me the goal of last week’s pronunciation class was to identify which students would be selected for professional development, including travel abroad. “Do not share your feedback with students,” he said.

Well, my students came to our pronunciation class ready to learn. They believed our class was professional development. I felt torn about how candidly to comment on students’ English proficiency. Sigh.

So last week, in two-hour increments, I taught 10 groups of students how to improve their pronunciation. How much do you think we can augment a lifetime of speech patterns in two hours? Not much, right?

So instead of making any difference, we identified which areas students needed to improve, I gave them exercises to improve their “arrs”, “ells” and “thes,” and we sang The Beatles. Not one student balked at standing up to sing All My Loving. It’s hard to overstate how deeply singing is ingrained in the culture here.

This Friday, I’ll return to KEOTI to watch my students present in English.
I hope I’ve taught them something useful.

Sometimes I question whether corporate camps are a waste of time for students. The class length is contracted, and students often don’t have a system in place to continue speaking in English once class ends, whether with a native speaker or a not-so-shy Korean friend.

But I’m here to save money not the world, and KEOTI was comfortable.

The staff’s been gracious.

I was given a dorm room and a cafeteria card and was able to use the company gym.

loaners @the KEOTI gym

Most important, my students were interactive and unique.

During the game Four Truths, One Lie*, my student EunKyoung told the class:

“Sometimes I want to be a butterfly.
I’d like to resemble a wild flower.
My favorite person is King Sejong.
I work in e-learning.
I don’t like swimming.*”

What a beautiful mind.

Eunkyoung is 51, directs e-learning for KEOTI and has received the second highest award from the President of Korea for her contributions to business. She also wants to be a butterfly.

Perhaps because Korea Post is a government agency and the training arm for every post office on the peninsula, we had a mix of men and women, ages and job functions in class. Everyone is unique, I’m reminded, even in a Confucian, 98.2% Korean society.

meta: post office inside Korea Post

Moon fish

21 03 2012

I asked Hyeon Jin to give me one word to describe herself, and she picked moon.

I’m glad I didn’t make the mistake of asking for another word.

Hyeon Jin told me she dreamt of living on the moon, because she doesn’t like sleeping in a bed. On the moon, she will sleep on the moon floor and be able to fly. Her mother and aunts will live on the moon, and I can live there too. We will all eat moon bread and moon fish, but not earth fish which Hyeon Jin hates. On the moon, Hyeon Jin will wear heavy in-line skates to skate across. We won’t need airplanes, which take much money. We will fly.

Hyeon Jin told me this story as if she were describing what she ate for lunch.

Combined with her boyish haircut, orange specs, lanky frame and chapped lips, she is the most captivating person on the planet.

Tonight was my first experience teaching English to a 5th grader. I could not have imagined this sweet experience. For all the time I wasted worrying over running out of material, Hyeon Jin filled our 90 minutes with her questions and vivid responses.

I’m exhausted but wanted to share this name with you before I went to bed:
Yi Hyeon Jin.
We will see it again in 10 years, maybe less.

last engrish class of the semester

10 12 2010

i don’t think i’ll re-up next semester. engrish + j-school = bleary-eyed susan.
though elsa and i agreed we spent less time preparing, we both felt like better teachers this semester. i can see how teaching requires a year or more to hit your stride.

this semester was way more challenging with 8-9 students at different literacy and speaking levels. we didn’t know we had it so good last semester with 4 eager, talkative students.

dunno if our students learned any engrish (i hope so!), but here’s what i learned this semester:

  • start class with an warm-up or conversational activitah.
  • give directions slowly. be confident with instructions.
  • getting up and walking around makes lessons more engaging
  • props are good
  • give explicit, simple directions. yeah, i need work on that.
  • more STT, less TTT!

Vietnamese birthdays

15 10 2010

elsa and i taught days, dates and months last night. “go fish” card game played with months = tons of fun.

byeh didn’t know when his birthday is. then he offered january 1. his sister byoh said the same. here’s why vietnamese people celebrate birthdays on new years.

less “teacher talk time” last night. more student talk time.

ESOL up again

25 08 2010

hella week!
or as gates county ann likes to say “holl-errrr.”

three days of durham lit center ESOL class training this week. fun fun. only two other people in class from en-cee. interesting folks, wide range and plenty of people who’ve taught overseas. love regina and daniel who lead training. learned there is a cert program @ Duke; also one online @ Piedmont Comm Coll.

cette week, finishing two Dropout grants deliverables @ work and starting UNC online course. biz-ay. stoked about this last one though–getting back into the practice of writing. get doodoocaca house/divorce stuff out of the way, and i’d like to write regularly, maybe volunteer column somewhere.

one ESOL icebreaker, name game. i like to hear what other people pick for themselves. here my stab at “s” adjectives…

  • sentimental
  • sappy
  • sensual
  • smart
  • sarcastic
  • strong
  • steadfast
  • sister
  • self-assured
  • self-aware
  • self-starter
  • self-motivated
  • staunch


15 04 2010

was the lesson tonight at durham literacy center ESOL class. mother, father, daughter, son, brother, sister, so on…and then they throw in man, woman, men, women, parents, children..it really is a lot of complicated material to learn.

i was flustered to be late to class (why can i never find lakewood baptist church? 3 mi from the hizzy already) and to have had a lovely (not) conversation with mom on the way over. well–

all cares melt away when i’m in there. it is so much fun. i may not do anything or much of anything, but i enjoy being around the people in that class. clearly, creativity factors into being a good teacher. shite! i forgot to get the syllabus from daniel, to prepare some for next class. i’m going to ask elsa if she will let me pinch hit teach a page or two. i have lots of ideas and wth, how will i know they are bunk unless i teach? part of the fun tonight included maria bringing her smart 11-year-old daughter to class. that + juan and hussam are on similar levels, so instead of me helping them, i asked them to check each other’s lesson and to quiz each other. hussam liked that, but then, he is eager to learn. tonight hussam and juan talked about their families. i like to hear hussam say he has a baby and another baby baby (extra small baby).

daniel told me the students are either newly arrived refugees or people who have been here for a few years, learned enough english to work and maybe now have reached a point where they need to learn more english.

my mother is scared for me to move to korea, i can tell. she called back to say there are so many car accidents in korea. then to say, oh there is so much pollution in korea. ok then, how much money will you make and can you get a job when you return home? just buy rosetta stone susan. blah blah.  she’s projecting her fears. they come from her wanting me to reconcile with tula. and maybe from me living far away. but i’m not letting her fears get to me. the best thing about having the worst thing that’s ever happened to you, er, happen, is it puts insecurities into perspective. i can let a lot of that noise go.

time for snooze…

ESOL in Dtown

10 03 2010

so excited so excited. yea yea yea!

i’m going to volunteer at The Durham Literacy Center which has (tada) ESOL teaching opportunities. the next orientation is in late August, by which time, I’ll have finished the TESOL certificate. so the good information i’ve learned won’t seep out of my head. teaching opportunities are one night a week for a two-hour class, 16-week semester.

but in the meantime, one of the volunteer teachers would like to have a TA assist, so i’m going in March 25th. Regina says it’s a fun class–only 10 students, some from Burma, Iraq…

i am so excited! this is going to be a good volunteer fit.