Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sprouting Spring

Imagined Communities of English: My Handout

I brushed up the presentation which you can still see over at Flowboard and also made the following handout to accompany my presentation. So far I have to be at 10 minutes in my presentation but I'm at 15 minutes. However, I did a lot of pausing during my first practice so I imagine I might actually meet the time standards!

The following is my handout:

Let me know of any typos or problems. My presentation isn't for a few weeks so I have some time to brush it up.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Power of Imagination...Imagined Communities of English

View on Flowboard - Presentation and Storytelling Platform for iPad

Social Linguistics is quite a really good class. But it's also an intimidating one with concepts that really hit the heart of the intersection between English language learning and social power. I've really been enjoying making huge connections between my past teaching experiences and concepts such as identity, power and ethnicity.

For my final paper I researched and wrote about Imagined communities of English because I felt it explained a lot of what I experienced in South Korea. Why Korean moms pressure their children so much to acquire and master English. Why I somehow was better than other teachers because of my country of origin and skin color, and why other teachers were less desired. It made me realise my position as the "Native English Teacher" and that no matter what my beliefs might be, that there is no such things as a NET,...this concept is powerful and subscribed to by a large community of people.

So my presentation above, which is still in it's editing form, will be what I use on the last day of class to convey all those understandings and connections.

Also if you're interested in reading some of my papers go to my academia profile page here, and have a look. Thanks~

Saturday, February 22, 2014

초당 순두부 Lynnwood

What else does one do when they want to celebrate their first year out of Korea? They go eat Korean! Yep, I dragged Ian up to Lynnwood for some Korean food and to do a little Korean grocery shopping. We ate at the Cho Dang Soon Du Bu restaurant which is situated inside the KS Supermarket.

This was by far the most "Korean" experience I have had outside Korea. Even the tables set with the baskets of spoons and chopsticks felt close to the real thing. Don't be fooled by those empty chairs, families starting coming soon after we were seated.

As you can see from the spread above this was an ample meal with a large pot of rice, soon du bu, bulgolgi, and yummy fresh side dishes. Ian was really hungry and this seemed to hit the spot. Also he is a big fan of barley tea, now.

Shopping around the market was fun as I saw items that were familiar to me back in Korea and it was also exciting seeing new Lotte treats on the shelves. "What kind of choco pie, do they make now?" I wondered.

I picked up a few things like gochugaru, kimchi and some frozen hoddeuk. The Lynwood area seems to be a small enclave of Korean folks, so I hope to go back and explore other Korean restaurants and marts.

One Year In, One Year Out

Tomorrow marks my one year since I left Korea and been living here in Seattle. In all honesty, I can't believe a whole year has passed since I said my final goodbye to Korea. Of course I know that time flies quickly as an adult, but all in all I am still coming face to face with this fact of no longer being a "foreigner" abroad.

Now I want to make sure that this feeling is not associated with "reverse culture shock" because to be honest in the whole year since, I haven't really felt "shocked" by what I've seen or experienced back home in America. However, I simply miss my life in Korea and at the same time enjoy my new life here in America.

So what did this first year bring me?

Reconfiguring the past:
I am really grateful for my time this year and that enough of it was free that I could look back on my past in Korea and reconfigure my experiences. As you might already know I did a lot of growing in South Korea and experienced hardships brought on by both Koreans and Expats alike.

My time back here, and my distance away from Korea has allowed me to forgive some of those things that happened and also help me understand why they occurred.

Appreciating my travels:
One of the hardest things about my choice to leave Korea has been accepting I'm no longer a stranger in a strange land. I really loved my times traveling around Korea and Japan. I look back fondly on my ability to navigate through language barriers and make my way around by myself as I traveled.

However, I know that I can travel around America and appreciate what it has to offer. I know a lot of people, especially from the mouths of expats back in Korea, felt that America had nothing exciting to offer. Yet I feel that you need to look closer and take it in more. So I've done some traveling already and hope to do more.

Reevaluating my teacher self:
Being in the master's program has really helped me understand the choices and actions I made as a teacher in South Korea. I've come to realise that although I had few resources, little training and barriers to overcome I did a pretty good job. I also see now how I could have made it better.

But mostly I see that all in all people are teaching out there without any real sense what the TESOL or EFL discipline is really like.

Also, when examining my past teacher role I see my choice to get my master's and return home as a wise one. My hunch that eventually I would hit a ceiling in Korea and my job options would get limited, is really true. Universities in Korea are now requiring to hire people only with Master's and a few years experience teaching adults. I even heard my last school I worked for is cutting pay these days. On top of that a lot of the programs and funding for public schools in Korea has been eliminated. So in essence, my choices would have been private hagwon schools, which are more like industries of English and it's really hard to find a good one. So I suppose I feel it was inevitable making a future choice like the one I made.

Missing Korea:
My first year back home wasn't absent of missing Korea. I practically dream about still being there nearly every night and I often catch myself missing a certain place I've been to in Korea.

What do I miss? Perhaps I miss the food or the great transportation of Korea, but I mostly miss those kind moments I had with people. Those random times when people lent me a hand or talked to me out of nowhere. I also miss the atmosphere of Korea, the way "anything goes" can be felt in some cases.

And like I said I miss traveling around, too. But overall I do note the things I don't miss, like feeling boxed in a tiny house with one window. Or feeling hungry a lot of the time because I couldn't really find the food I wanted to eat. In essence, I think there was a lot I "put up with" and now don't have to.

American life:
Life in America isn't exactly easier than it is in Korea, just because I'm a citizen. Things are more expensive and I do have to pay for my rent. But I wash this all aside when I know I can go to a local restaurant and get a good organic, vegetarian meal or really just be able to get any food I want.

I also like that I can go to a neighbourhood cafe that is quiet and pleasant to sit in and enjoy a warm beverage amongst people reading and studying quietly. Finding a cafe in Korea like that would have been really difficult.

All in all, I don't want this post to be about griping about the differences and benefits of my new life in America. I want to express that a year ago I got on a plane to come back home and it wasn't the easiest choice to make. I left behind friends and familiar places that I can't easily see again.

I gambled an easy life of paid housing, pensions and a salary for one where I have to build everything up again. Yet, I feel I have more control over my future and have aspirations of where I want to be in so many years. With my Master's and experience I hope to teach at an University somewhere, live in a quant little house and have the simple life. Perhaps it's too much to ask for in this competitive world, but I feel if you work hard enough and not give up, you can get to where you want to be.

So I hope to celebrate my one year in and one year out by doing a little something special. What that is I'm not sure yet...but it'll come together. :) That and spring should be just around the corner!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Snow in Seattle: Feb. 2014

The snow started to come down last night around 7pm and it didn't really stop before I went off to bed. This snow episode seems to be a lot mightier than the last one.

I put on my winter coat to see what I could see.

The local temple looked pretty in the snow...

Even bamboo leaves look lovely in the snow, as well...

I headed into Judkin's Park and to my delight there was a large snowman and people sledding. I also saw some folks skiing around the park, as well.

As you might recall, snow in Seattle is not a common thing and I'm sure by this evening the site will have melted away. But it's a fun reminder of the four seasons.

School is going well this quarter, however my research for one paper is kind of going slowly. I'll try to step that up a bit.

A little bird outside my window...

And one last picture of the PacMed building in the fog (taken a while ago).

Friday, February 7, 2014

Planning to teach about Competitive Group Learning

One of the courses I am currently taking is Instructional Methods for Adult Learners. The core element of this course is to create two lesson plans that we will teach to a group of peers. Our task is to first create 2 full lessons, then boil them down to 2 - 25 minute versions.

Our lessons are determined by the "Topic Group" we were assigned early in the quarter. The group I chose is called, "Collaborative, cooperative and competitive groups". It seems that most of the group went with collaborative forms of group learning, while I got more interested in competitive forms. I really think that you can use this positively with adult learners and that it allows students to think fast and use skills that are sometimes put on the back burner.

So I broke down my lessons in the following way: the first one will be an introduction about competitive group learning and how this can be made positive, and the second lesson will be how to use those concepts with adult ESL students. I already feel we incorporate competitive types of learning in Adult ESL (called games or activities) and so think this information will be really useful.

We also have to incorporate concepts of Kolb's learning cycle and UDL principles into our lessons. Overall I feel I've got all this down pretty well.

The following are materials I have put together to use during my first lesson. As you can see I wasn't comfortable with plain-old styles of handouts. *Note: These were made via templates in Microsoft Applications which I manipulated for my own use.

My handout for my PPT presentation, meant to give more detailed information:

The following is my powerpoint presentation, which has certain animations that are fun to watch. 


Competitive Group Learning from Joy Iris-Wilbanks

Well I breezed through breakfast to work on this, so probably a good idea to eat something now. Hopefully I can get to my second lesson and start fine tuning that soon. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Oh yea, there was a Seahawks parade

Nearly a million people descended on the cold streets of Seattle yesterday to watch the city's champion team the Seahawks parade go by. I stayed home and watched it via live TV on my computer. Ian was there and said he had a good time.

I jokingly told him this will be a good experience for him, cause he can feel what it's like to be in Seoul on a busy day.

I thought it was amusing how some local companies took to the crowd to promote themselves.

I think the city can now soak in the victory and cool down for whatever is next.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Cat Walking

Living in a studio space with a cat works in ways you wouldn't think possible. For one, you'll always know where your cat is and two your cat will always be there to remind you how much he loves you. Maybe that last part can be kind of annoying at times, especially at 6 in the morning when he wants to be fed.

But it also means that your poor cat doesn't have much room to roam. So I've been letting Tom explore the hallway regions of the building I live in. I have tried to put Tom on several cat leashes and so far it just doesn't work. The harness usually goes underneath his belly and around his front legs. But it's so tight that Tom doesn't like it and walks kind of funny. So I just use the neck part attached to the leash to guide him around. I think he's too big for the usual cat leashes. I hope to get a dog sized harness and see if that works. But things are working for now.

Now when I say I "lead" him around that probably isn't exactly true. It's more like I follow him as he sniffs and rubs up against every nook and corner in the building. But there are times when he will follow me. 

He's been enjoying sniffing around and rubbing his cheeks everywhere. The other people in this building do have cats and sometimes he freaks out in front of their doorsteps. 

One time, though, we were on the third floor (I'm on the second) and someone came home which freaked Tom out. He ran off and I got him onto the second floor hallway area and tried to coax him back to my door (out of the hallway area). But the poor thing was so confused where he was he couldn't figure out what to do. His tail was all bushy in reaction to freaking out and he was yowling away. I finally got him back to my room, but it took some coaxing.

Since then he hasn't been as adventurous as before, and won't beg to go out as much. But I still take him, or leave the door open so he mingles in front of it.

My hope is to coax him enough so he can go outside and enjoy the grass and sunshine (but still on the leash). Till then he can enjoy the world of hallways and stairs. :p

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Seahawks are now my team

I'm not really a football (American football) fan or really just a person who spends much time watching the game. If you were to ask me which sport I like I would say baseball. But after watching the Superbowl with Ian and his friends on Sunday, I've come to realise it's not such a bad game.

Of course I learned a lot about the game by watching it and asking folks, "What does that mean?"

But it was really exciting seeing the town come together in team spirit and then feel victorious when the Seahawks won on Sunday. On my drive home from the game people were in the streets yelling, "Go Hawks!" and cars were honking along. It feels like wholesome community spirit and I confess I feel somehow a part of it all. I also feel proud to have happened to pick this city to live in with a winning team.

So for future reference, Seahawks are now my football team!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Seattle's Lunar New Year Celebrations

I live a stone's throw from the International District here in Seattle. Also known as Chinatown but since it envelops more than just Chinese culture it's called the International District. This time of year is when the Lunar calendar celebrates a turning of the year. 2014 is the year of the Horse and I guess it means you can keep a steady hard working pace.

But it meant that the International District put on a festival to celebrate the Lunar New Year. With performances of dragon and lion dances, Phillipino dances and even Korean dances. But I didn't see all of them.

Besides the performances was a promotion of food in the International District, ranging from Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese to Phillipino and so on. The great thing about this event was their food crawl, where you just pay 2 bucks and you get a small dish from certain restaurants. So after I met up with Ian we went from place to place grabbing little bites of Japanese onion pancakes to Chinese buns. It was pretty yummy and made me realise how close I am to some good and cheap eats.

Below: Phillipino dance...

They had a large tent where you can buy some things and where kids could do some crafts.

The sun came out finally and the rain tapered off. 

Today is the start of February and that means that in about 24 days I will have been in Seattle for a year. But most importantly it means all this time has gone by since my life in Korea. I really can't believe how fast it's all been.

You know I had some rough times in Korea. About a year or so before I left Korea (before I made the decision) I was working as a team leader at my school. It was tough times (you'll know if you read my previous blog) and I did my best to keep the peace and also find my position. Sometimes I think back on those hard times and I've come now to realise I'm in a better place now. I feel I am over some of those hardships and hurt feelings I experienced. It might take a few more years, though, for me to completely let go of some of the harder things. But I'm glad I've come this far. 

I know 2014 is going to be full of school work and challenges in that manner. I just hope it brings me closer to my destiny and wherever I'm supposed to be in life. 

Happy Lunar New Year Everybody!