Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What's a jimjilbong?

A jimjilbong is a public bathhouse found in South Korea. It is part bathhouse and part spa. There are snacks and juices served, TVs to watch, comics and books to read. Plus, you nap, exfoliate, get clean, and sweat out your toxins.
"They are very popular in Korea and it is pretty typical for Korean's to spend 10 hours resting and sweating their way through a Saturday," says Rachel from Caucasian Invasion

"The walls of the bathing areas and saunas are usually decorated with very beautiful semi-precious stones, like rose quartz, agate, amethyst, and jade, in intricate designs. Don’t be surprised if you look up to see a big pink heart or star on the roof while sweating out the week’s stress in one of the sauna rooms," says Sara Stillman of Jeju Life

Travel is a wonderful way to experience new facets of a culture, immerse yourself in a way of life, and learn from others. What will visiting a jimjilbong teach you?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Christmas in Beijing, China

Travel can include all your favorite holidays, and even some new ones! What is Christmas like in Beijing?
A tour of the city, however, eliminates any doubt that Christmas was indeed being celebrated. And a celebration it was, as Christmas carols were played and sung in public complexes and Christmas wishes greeted us everywhere, complete with Santa and sleigh bells, including red-nosed reindeers. This is apparently a new phenomenon in the People's Republic of China, with its inception traced back to the 1980s Open Door policy of Deng Xiao Ping. Since then, the sight of the chubby old man with the red hat and thick white beard has become as common as Colonel Sanders, the other bearded man, who as the face of KFC has mushroomed all over China. In fact, public and private companies alike throw Christmas parties and restaurants and bars have Christmas Eve specials, featuring exotic wines and mystery gifts...For the Chinese, it is Christmas in so far as the theme song, "Silent Night," elicits a sense of holiness and peace and the myth of the magi promotes gift-giving. --Edmund Chia and Gemma Cruz, theologians
Source: NCR

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What Should I Bring with Me?

Deck of Cards

And not just a regular pack, although that’s good too. Uno, Phase 10, any card game that you know how to play. Why? I’ve taught ESL kindergarten through adult, and the appeal of a good game of cards knows no age limit. I started every day in my Korean kindergarten class with a five minute game of Uno – they counted out loud, they talked strategy, they had fun speaking English, and they got calm and focused for the lesson to follow.

Flash Card Software

I constantly found myself scouring the Internet minutes before a class to find printable flash cards that were relevant to the lesson I was about to teach. Save yourself the trouble (and be a lot more organized than I was) by downloading software like CueCard – it’s free, the cards are printable, and you can add pictures and audio.

Portable Recorder

Of course, if you have a smartphone you’ve likely got an app for this already. If not, a digital portable recorder is incredibly useful when it comes to working on pronunciation with students. Often, a language student thinks they’re mimicking you perfectly when in reality something is off. Letting them hear themselves is invaluable. As a bonus, younger students love to hear recordings of themselves – a recorder gives you a fun way to encourage more speaking in class. You can also use these to record and document vocal tests to refer back to when a student questions his grade.

Classroom Planning Programs

An inherent problem with teaching ESL abroad is you don’t know your students (or their proficiency levels) until the first day. Particularly in the beginning, planning lessons and creating tests can be a scramble, and online templates might seem free but can have some pretty severe limitations. Before you go, download a few programs you can figure out how to use prior to day one, hopefully making your first week in the classroom a little less hectic.


A good ESL podcast can be a great classroom resource. It’s likely that, as an ESL teacher, you will be the only native speaker students hear. Podcasts can expose them to different articulations, accents, and ideas. Many also come with transcriptions you can print and use in class as a reference.

iPod + Speaker

Every ESL classroom I’ve ever taught in had a little stereo/CD player sitting in the corner, because the textbooks and workbooks the schools provided came with audio accompaniment. An iPod and portable speaker are ideal for using those podcasts in the classroom, not to mention the obvious entertainment value for you.

Audio Books

Again, fun for you, educational for your students. From my experience, the goal of using audio books wasn’t so much to get students to completely understand what was being said – Shakespeare is tough enough without the added language barrier. But when you’re working on a specific concept like idioms or phrasal verbs, an audio selection can really help enhance your lesson.


It’s an obvious choice, but I couldn’t leave it off – I would have been thrilled with an iPad, Kindle or Nook when I lived overseas. Even in the largest cities, finding a good selection of books in English can be tough.

Source: Matador Goods