Adventures in Wai Kru

Today we celebrated Wai Kru day at the university. Wai Kru means ‘paying respect to teachers‘. Part of the ceremony involved students from all departments presenting elaborate flower arrangements to the teachers. Here are a couple of examples I took pictures of before the ceremony began. The pictures are lousy, but it gives an idea of what the arrangements looked like:

The ceremony also included the following choral chant type thing. It was in Thai, but my phonology professor gave us a translated copy. To all you teachers out there, this Wai Kru’s for You…

I wish to respectfully greet and honour
my teachers who have enriched my life through learning
who are bestowing knowledge and instilling morality in my life.

I wish to express my deepest respect and acknowledge your abounding goodness.

With heartfelt admiration I wish to express my deepest gratitude
through diligence and discerning wisdom
to complete my studies and live a full life
being a good moral example
to bring honour and glory
and great benefit for my people and country.

Adventures in an Underwater Discovery…

Friday was the last day of the 2008 Daegu University Children’s Winter English Camp. On the last day, we always do a presentation involving singing and dancing and props and pomp. Although I had five students this year, one of them left for a family trip to Japan on the day of the presentation, so I only had 4 little munchkins all alone on the big stage. They look so tiny.

Our presentation was the song Underwater Discovery, and the kids did a great job. Over the course of the program, we made snorkels, and waves and underwater life forms. The only problem came with the line “Riding on a sea horse, that would be so cool.” Unfortunately, their pronunciation, despite my greatest professional efforts, continued to come out missing the ‘s’ in horse. Yes, go ahead, say it out loud without the ‘s’ in horse. I’m not going to type it for you. This is a family page.

Adventures in Comparatives and Superlatives…

I love teaching Chapter 10. It’s the last chapter in the book, and signifies we’re on the home stretch towards the end of the semester, but that’s not why I love it. I love watching my students react as I use my Canadian growing-up place, and Seoul to illustrate comparative sentence structures. First, I show them the picture of Seoul. Then , I show them the picture of Brockville. After a few rounds of examples like “Brockville is cleaner than Seoul.” “Seoul is more interesting than Brockville.” Eventually some bright young thing hits on “Seoul is more crowded than Brockville.” This is my cue to introduce a few interesting demographics. It goes something like this:

“Which is more crowded: Seoul or Brockville?” I ask, just to be sure.
“Seoul,” reply my students, thinking that perhaps, since it’s the last chapter, they can get away without a complete sentence.
“Seoooooul….. iiiissssss…” I prompt, flapping my arms like a duck in my best please complete the sentence mime.
“Seoul is more crowded than Brockville,” comes the grudging reply, putting me and my gesticulating appendages out of our misery.
“Hmmm, ” say I, in a thoughtful way. “Which is more crowded: China or Korea?”
“CHINA!” Shout my students, with confidence.
“Really? Are you sure?” I ask doubtfully.
I flash my nifty demographic chart up on the screen, and wait for the squinty-eyed looks of confusion to appear. [please note: the squinty-eyed reference is to paint a mental picture of my students squinting at the screen to make sure they’re seeing the numbers correctly, and has absolutely nothing to do with Asian facial features.] If they have learned nothing else all semester, my students did learn that Korea is more crowded than China. They’re shocked.

Here’s the scoop:
Korea has 485 people / km2
China has 135 people / km2
Canada has 3 people / km2

I show them the pictures of Seoul and Brockville again. I show them that there are no people in the picture in Brockville. I remind them that the picture was taken right smack in the middle of downtown Brockville. They laugh. Then I give them some homework and send them on their way.