Friday, 30 July 2010

On Summer Camp and Desk Warming

So, it's summer vacation now and I'm currently engaged in the activity known as 'desk warming' which is a bizarre Korean educational concept that basically involves the Native English teacher coming in to school during the holidays to sit at (warm) their desk despite having no classes or any work to do. It's a bit weird since there's hardly anyone else around and it does seem a bit pointless but that's Korean bureaucracy for you. Our contract states that we get 4 weeks of vacation so that's what we get. Oh well, it's not so bad, it gives me a chance to catch up on emails, learn some Korean, update the blog and get distracted watching old episodes of South Park! At least there's air-con at school unlike in our apartment - it's incredibly hot and humid here at the moment so I actually quite look forward to getting in to my classroom in the morning especially as I don't have any work to do (see the photo above of my empty classroom - ah, so quiet)!

Last week I was running the English Summer Camp which was a fun experience but pretty hard work and tiring too. In Korea you don't generally go away for this so called 'camp' and no tents or sleeping bags are involved. In fact it's not much of a camp at all, more like just an extra week of school really but more 'fun' orientated. Basically, the students can sign up for the 'camp' and they come along and we do fun English related activities for a week at school in the usual classroom. The class size is smaller than usual (about 8 - 12 kids) so it's more personal.

Some of my students playing 'English Quiz Jenga'. This game went down really well. I gave all my kids English names at the beginning of camp, mainly to help me remember them. Some of them got pretty funny names: Spencer, Trevor (who all the other kids kept calling 'Clever'), Kyle and Kenny were some of my favourites. Kyle decided he wanted to change his name to God, hence the name card!

After we played Jenga some of my students kidnapped the wooden blocks and set up an impromptu domino rally!

I split my students into teams for camp. One group decided to call themselves the 'God of god' team!

I enjoyed camp more than normal teaching as I got to actually know my students as individuals and it was more relaxed but I had a really hectic schedule. I was teaching from 9am to 4pm, mostly on my own, every day for a week with just an hour lunch break in between. This didn't allow any time for preparation so I was working like crazy the preceding week to get everything ready and I was so tired after camp that I slept loads the following weekend! Usually in Korea English camps are done over 2 weeks with camp in the morning and teacher prep time in the afternoon but my school is obviously trying to kill me by ramming all of our camp into one week (apparently a previous teacher had asked for it to be scheduled this way so maybe I should be blaming him).

There has been extensive building work going on at my school during the vacation including the ripping up of the old wooden classroom floors and their replacement with poured concrete. Not fun or particularly safe when you have students still running about in the corridors on their way to camp.

Rowan has done a Dr Who themed camp at his school but I won't talk too much about that as I think he will write his own post about his camp. I didn't really theme mine, just did different stuff every day including cooking pancakes which was fun if somewhat messy and Pirate Day replete with treasure hunt, talk like a pirate practice and Captain Pugwash music! Aarrrr!

One of the camp lessons was about comics and onomatopoeia (words that sound like what they are). The kids seemed to get the idea of onomatopoeia very quickly and enjoyed copying me trying to say it. This is an example of one of the comics they made.

The cooking lesson was one of the most manic and enjoyable classes. It was the one I was most worried about there was a lot of potential for things to go wrong but it turned out good in the end. The cooking room at my school was..... interesting. Antiquated maybe a better description though. Most of the cooking utensils were filthy, in fact most of the stuff in the room didn't look like it had been washed in years so we had to get things clean before we could start which was a bit annoying. And there were exposed gas pipes at ankle level criss crossing the whole room which made walking around with hot pans, knives etc. more exciting, That coupled with the fact that most Korean gas stoves seem to have only 2 settings, off and ON, really ON made for a slightly hair raising experience! Standards of health and safety are different here compared to the UK I think.

The God of god team getting messy in the cooking room!

Mihye, my saviour on cooking day! She is one of my co-teachers and very kindly came in to help me.

This team did a really great job of making the pancakes. The girl in the middle ('Mary') was the only student who attempted to flip the pancakes and managed it perfectly every time!

This team did a really good job too. They even gave me one of their best pancakes to eat. Very sweet of them!

Korean people seem to eat virtually everything using chopsticks including pancakes!

Pancakes, fruit, syrup and chopsticks - Korean styleee!

Some of my students decided to make a special sauce by combining all the different syrups and adding in some soy too. They called it 'cherry sauce' and it looked gross.

I had to ask my school to buy the ingredients I needed for making pancakes. I think something got lost in translation as instead of getting 660g of flour I was given 6kg of flour and many more eggs than we could ever have used so the kids decided to fry some eggs to use them up.

The kids who came to my camp were mainly 1st graders with a couple of 2nd graders from time to time and their level of English was generally pretty high which made it easier to teach them and have a good time. They were a friendly, enthusiastic, cheeky bunch and I was actually quite sad on the last day of camp when I had to say goodbye to them.

The Boring Team boys say 'Kimchi'!

We're off on vacation from this afternoon and plan to travel around the east coast of S Korea and down to the south coast and then spend a week on Korea's 'Honeymoon Island' called Jeju which should be fun! We have also been taking Korean lessons at a hagwon in Bundang for the last month so we should hopefully be able to navigate our way around Korea a bit better now.

No comments:

Post a Comment