Monday, June 21, 2010

Intensives, Delinquent Women, Moneylending Businessmen, The Average Bulldog, Gastric Juices and How I Brought a Student to Tears

Every three months, something beautiful happens that changes the quality of my life by leaps and bounds. While this event makes my working life more enjoyable than I thought possible, these two simple words comprised of four simple syllables bring pure torment to middle school aged students across the country.
My teacher counterparts and myself put on a kind face of sympathy, but little do they know, their misery brings pure bliss to their foreign teachers. This time is known as Study Session, and it is my everything.

Every three months, Korean middle school students undergo a week of intensive testing. Every student I have asked seems to provide drastically different information, but I have combined their fantastical testing stories into this one, pieced together quilt of a story, which I will now present to you as fact.

They are tested in nine subjects, and are expected to demonstrate academic excellence in every exam.

The pressures of being a student in Korea are very intense, and the fact that these tests are referred to as 'intensives' really couldn't be more fitting. They are tested in the usual subjects of math, science, history and Korean grammar, but the expectations don't stop there. Physical education, etiquette (including how to dress and speak to elders) English, Chinese or Japanese and art are all subjects that the Korean government has decided students must master, and they feel a solid month out of the year should be designated to proving just how talented these students are in all 9 subjects of intensive testing.

The tests are prefaced with two solid weeks of testing, and these student's normal lives of jam packed academy schedules are replaced with even crazier study sessions. The traditional academic pressure placed on Korean students from their parents combined with the highly competitive edge existing between students in this culture means that during this two week study session followed by one week of testing, middle school students, like those at the Milford Academy, are neither seen, nor heard.

So what does this mean for foreign teachers? Three solid weeks of a dramatically reduced schedule and a plethora of time in front of the computer in the really hot computer lab. Facebook? Eat your heart out. Here comes Peter Teacher. Will I use this time wisely? Probably not. Will I sit in front of the computer watching episodes of The Jersey Shore on repeat and waiting for that little red icon to pop up to let me know that someone has *liked* one of the 15 status updates I have posted in the past 10 minutes? Yup! Do I love it? Absolutely. During this time I am challenging myself to two blog updates a week. Let's see if I can do it. In the mean time, I will leave you with a true life classroom experience from one of the whopping two classes I had to teach today, and some essays I corrected...

Classroom Experience (note, they were feeling extra competitive today because I told them that the best students would be the really lucky recipients of some pennies and nickles that I received in the mail from my parents...)
Peter: "Ok Class! LISTEN, REPEAT! Involve!"
Class: "INVORVE!"
Peter: "InvoLve!"
Class: "INVORVE!"
Peter: *giving up* "Good! Now who knows what 'involve' means?!"
(One student starts rolling up a piece of paper and pointing at it, another starts drawing a picture of a cat and another student starts to cry. At this point I begin to wonder... what the hell was I thinking? What month is it?)

Essay Corrections

Question: "Do young women spend too much time and money on fashion."

"Well, maybe somebody think that women don't spend money on beautiful but I absolutly disagree. Most women is in low paying job, so they can't buy some things which make themselves beauty. Second reasons is for their health. When they vomiting emesis, their oesophagus is burn because when we vomiting emesis, the gastric juice is came out with food and oesophagus is burn. And somebody even starve themselves, so they can be die too. With this case, one role model is dead."

"I am see the Enter-net. This news are about the woman problem. They news be great. I want this. We must practice this. You must thinking. The sopping givw to her enjoy. I don't this. We must go shopping!"

"About the appearance, no matter how ugly, let's not invest doneulmanyi! In a survey in the workplace because so little money, contack me a lot of money was the average bulldog. Bulldog Yet it was a credit card. All the young women to become school because all women credit delinquents."

"Fashion is not money's crystal, but young women is not afford. Not only expensive clothes make pretty, second, money problem. a lots of people is a delinquent borrower and many women delinquent because bought manythings so they borrow money from moneylending businessmen so they can't do society life so that's why I cons."

That is all for now, until next time...

Peeta Teecha


  1. I kind of agree with intensive testing.

  2. where do your kids learn words like delinquent borrower and moneylending? Is it worth teaching your kids that not all women have bad credit and are delinquent borrowers?

  3. We have to teach them from a standard debate form that shows two sides of an opinion. Those are key words that we are supposed to teach. It has actually been pretty interesting trying to decide what I should exactly try to disagree with and vocalize to the class. For example, I recently had to teach an entire class about how biofuels are bad. The entire article was full of horrible misinformation, but I keep having to remind myself that I am here to teach English, so as long as they are understanding the words, I am doing my job. I usually try to put in a few minutes at the end of the lesson to balance things out, but I don't usually have time because they have to answer so many questions with answers taken directly from the material I am told to present to the class.