E.S.L.: English as a second language, meaning students will be speaking English outside of the classroom.  Think of exchange students as the most obvious examples.

E.F.L.: English as a foreign language, meaning students only speak English in the classroom, and rarely outside of it.  Think of non-English major Korean students like the ones I teach here in lurvely Daegu.

E.I.L.: English as an international language, a newer acronym which implies English is going to be spoken in almost all situations where a second language is required.

E.L.F.: English as lingua franca, which is similar to E.I.L. but implies a situation where two people who need to communicate are forced to use English.  Sort of the pessimistic / somewhat less colonial version of E.I.L.

And this, friends, is how I spent my Saturday.  I do feel like I’m making progress though, and I’ve read some pretty interesting, albeit dry, papers on this stuff.

Posted in English, ESL, Language, Teaching | 1 Comment


Grading these exams and once again blown away by how even my lowest-performing students tend to have excellent English handwriting.

Like, much better than my own chicken-scratch.

My working theory is that good handwriting is a product of memorization and repetition, and Korean schools excel at those two things.

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The Hottest of Takes

As mentioned, bringing myself up to speed on ESL / EFL literature is no small thing.  That, and I started to grade my final exams today. I really, really hate grading exams.

So in light of Hillary Clinton’s historic nomination as the first female to lead either American political party, I’ll only add this:

It sounds as if she’s going to meet with Bernie and be perfectly gracious. But the notion that she somehow needs to “appease” the #BernieorBust crowd is ludicrous. If their delicate, snow-flake-shaped egos can’t be bothered to vote against Trump / for Hillary, well, ahem, fuck ’em. My fellow Democrats owe them nothing other than the bizarre convention seat choices Bernie has already made for himself.

If they’re that committed to supporting Trump — if they’re even thinking about supporting Trump — we don’t want them anyhow.

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Your Humble, Ink-Stained Wretch

Last year my boss suggested that me and my two foreigner co-workers put together a new addition of his English textbook, which we use with our college students.

That idea sat on the back-burner for awhile, and a few months ago he came back to us with another suggestion.  Our college has an annual research “contest” of sorts, where professors or, in our case, teachers could apply for a modest stipend to write a research paper.

Long story short, the four of us have started work on a paper that will involve examining and surveying our (beginner level) college students in order to come up with more effective classroom questions ranging from closed and convergent (yes / no, who, what, where, when) to open and divergent (how, why, what if).  Our goal is to find out which questions work best in relation to Bloom’s Taxonomy of learning objectives, from less to more complex, in a beginner level English classroom.

So recently I’ve been scrambling to catch up with all of this stuff that, as a teacher, I should be familiar with by now.

The thing is, I have an M.A. in English literature and pretty much zero background in the social sciences.  I presented a whopping total of two papers in graduate school, once at a graduate conference and once at a “real” conference in Toronto, where I basically got to pick and choose the critical framework I wanted to use.

Not so with this paper.  I’m up to my ears in papers about L.E.P. students (“less English proficient”), effective questions (open vs. closed, divergent vs. convergent), E.S.L. vs. E.F.L. (secondary vs. foreign language), and the history of Bloom’s Taxonomy in general.

It’s overwhelming.  But it’s good.  It’s a chance to stretch my brain in ways I haven’t for a while.  And it’s nice to collaborate with my co-workers in a manner beyond our general plans for the semester, and our approaches with our adult students.

And thankfully, one of my co-workers has an honest-to-goodness M.A. in education, so he can explain all of this stuff to me when necessary.

Anyhow, our actual research will take place in September and October during the new semester, and hopefully we’ll be presenting at the big E.S.L. / E.F.L. conference this winter in Seoul.

Posted in Education, ESL, Korea, Teaching | 2 Comments

Tears In Flavortown

Guy Fieri eating to Johnny Cash’s “Hurt.”

Where would we be as a civilization without the internet?

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The Greatest

“They never called me nigger.  They never lynched me.  They didn’t put no dogs on me.”

RIP, The Greatest.

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All The Sushis

Sometimes in South Korea, life is very good.

Posted in ESL, Korea, South Korea, Teaching | Leave a comment

Free Advice

At this point I’m certain the GOP’s best shot at the White House this November would be if they could genetically engineer a sentient assault rifle.

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Deep Souls

Ray Charles and Milt Jackson, “Blue Funk”

It’s the week before final exams, so I’m sitting in an empty “Global Zone” waiting for students to come practice their English with me, and listening to this amazing collaboration on headphones.

Good times.

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Kim Hyun-soo hit his first major league homer for the Orioles and got the “silent treatment” from his teammates.

A pretty cool moment.  Dude is hitting .383.

Posted in Baltimore, Baseball, Sports | Leave a comment