Cool things that happened today

All within the last 12 hours…
(which was actually 6 hours of class)

  • I answered a student’s (factual) question incorrectly and another student looked it up and shared the correct answer with everyone and I thanked the second student and didn’t feel embarrassed at all. Just moved right along. 
  • A shy and quiet student I had last term is no longer shy nor quiet.
  • I learned that a former student was (allegedly) in Psy’s Gangnam Style video. I have seen the video 20+ times but I was never looking for him. I might have to revisit this.
  • Three students from another one of my classes decided to audit (= attend without a grade) my Monday class just for the practice and experience. That was nice.
  • This list of tips on Korean culture for foreigners prompted quite a bit of discussion.
  • I introduced the word and idea of “podcasts” to a student who wanted listening practice at home and she seemed really interested in giving it a go.
  • I saw a book published in Korea for Korean learners with lots of Korean explanations  that actually seemed pretty decent and reasonable.
    (Perhaps I am becoming a less harsh critic of such materials?)
  • I somehow wrote the phrase “heavy petting” on the board.  So that was cool.
    I then told the students I have actually never said this and I didn’t think it was actually very useful. We settled on “beyond kissing” to refer to what the student was talking about.
  • I survived my first 3 hour lecture as a lecturer on “Korean and Global Politics”
    (mostly for foreign exchange students). If you have any questions about the Shilla Dynasty please let me know.
  • One student was shocked to hear my thoughts/feelings when I hear the phrase, “You’d better” and it seemed like this was a nice learning moment for her. I don’t think she will be telling people what they’d better be doing so freely in the near future.
  • One student was shocked to hear about tipping culture in the US.
  • Some interesting vocabulary that I never would have dreamed to
    (pre-)teach came up.
  • An interesting discussion about DVD rooms and the implications of going with others sprung up.
  • Zero students that are not registered for the class randomly strolled in late expecting some extra English practice and entertainment.
  • Some Korean students seemed legitimately shocked how “You are good at using chopsticks” might not be such a great compliment to a Westerner. For more on #chopsticks you might want to read my very short story. 
  • I thought of some small changes that can make things better next Monday!

Update 1: At some point it occurred to me that this might be a nice blog challenge.
I think the exact moment was when Tyson Seburn (@seburnt) over at 4C in ELT shared the post on Twitter. You see, Tyson previously suggested that my Movie quotes/Big Lebowski in ELT post could be a nice blog challenge. I wasn’t really so familiar with the process at that point. It seems that there will be a few takers. The blog challenge is something like: Why not list a few cool things that happened in the general vicinity of school for a day and share them? I am really keen to read more of them and it is quite a bit of fun. I will be sure to update any takers on the list below.

Update 2:
a) Carol Goodey (@goodey) took the challenge and her lovely post about her experiences teaching (I think) recent arrivals to Scotland can be found here.
b) Another interesting list of cool things was provided by Tom Randolph(@tomtesol) from his experiences right up the way here in Seoul.
c) Gemma Lunn (@GemL1) also supplied a golden list of cool things from her interactions in the past few days at her middle school in Busan.
d) In her new blogging home the gifted, talented, funny and optimistic Ann Loseva shared several cool things she recently experienced teaching in her native Moscow.
e) Tyson also shared his list of (mostly) cool things and shared lots of insights about what is going on in his EAP classes in Canada.
f) Though nobody suddenly belted out an Abba tune Kevin Stein (@kevchanwow) had a plethora of coolness today (much more, in fact, than yesterday).
g) The first person to publicly accept the challenge might have been my friend Yitzha Sarwono (@yitzha_sarwano). I was waiting patiently and excitedly for Icha’s post all week and her post was well worth the wait.
h) Ava Fruin (@avafruin) joins the band and jumps on the bandwagon in style with one very cool thing  (which can also be seen as the avoidance of uncool things from my view).
i) Ratnavathy Ragunthan-Chandrasegaran  shares some awesomeness and her cool groove with the world here. Best of luck, my friend and a well-deserved congrats on the coolness surrounding you.
j) Here, Laura Phelps shares some cool and interesting things that recently occurred in Tbilisi as she winds down her time there. I am extremely happy that the blog challenge “tricked” her into posting this because I love her writing.
k) There is no such thing as too late when talking about cool things. Here is Dave Dodgson’s very cool list of cool goings on as of late. 


    • mikecorea

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting. It felt very much like a roller coaster!! I forgot to mention on more thing that happened. One of the classes is in a new building. I guess it’s a science building or something. I (somehow) mistook what I thought was a water fountain for what was actually an emergency shower and got a bit wet during break time. I realized quickly but it was pretty funny!

  1. Rob Dickey

    Nice post on a nice day. Cool that you are teaching “Korean and Global Politics” – I’d love to hear more about that! Not only the topic (subject matter), but also how you integrate the subject matter with English language learning – your teaching focuses, etc. (I compile “mini case studies” on this kind of stuff, though have ignore the website for a couple years.)

    • mikecorea

      Thanks for the comments, Rob. The Korean and Global Politics class has been a nice challenge with a steep learning curve. The students are mostly exchange students (20% “native speakers” and most with a very high level of English) so English language learning is not an explicit goal of the course. Certainly there is a lot of English practice but English is not a focus nor something I give feedback on. I am still trying to figure out how to help everyone be aware of their language in order to be as comprehensible as possible for everyone in the room. (I think this is more about getting the “NS” to think about what might be understood.) The Korean students are pretty strong in English and have expressed that they are happy to have a chance to practice. It is a very interesting place/space/situation.

      One thing I did do yesterday was get the Korean students to tell the non-Korean students about the Tan-gun foundation story.

      Course goals have been a combination of what the admin told me to focus on, as well as what I would have liked to have known when I first came to Korea as well as the results of the numerous (already!) needs assessment type things I have already done. I should stop here before it turns into something longer than the blog post. (But it might be an idea for a future post!)

      Thanks again for reading and commenting!

  2. kevchanwow

    It’s nice to see a day filled with small good things. I’m often sweating the big long term things (will my students get into university, what can I do to facilitate communicative language skills, blah, blah, blah). But big things are just a collection of small things all jumbled up and layed out on the canvas of life reflected upon. So here’s to small things.

    (and I am not hurt at all that our extremely funny Google chat conversation didn’t make it onto your list. Seriously, it didn’t keep me up for roughly two hours and seventeen minutes before I could finally drop off to sleep last night.)

    • mikecorea

      I thank you for the comments. Perhaps I should have been more clear that all those things happened in the general vicinity of school. Although I do enjoy a KCW GC (Kevchanwow google chat). I think yesterday’s discussion of memes and @EBEFL ( was a particularly good one.

      I hope that you can find it your heart to forgive me for not mentioning the chat. I feel really sorry. Mostly I feel sorry your students who will be faced with a tired teacher. I think sometimes we take our responsibilities and potential impacts as bloggers lightly and don’t think about the children. I am sorry for the damage that I have done to their education.

      Yours in a healthy mix of regret, shame, whimsy, and friendship,

  3. Tyson Seburn

    “I somehow wrote the phrase “heavy petting” on the board. So that was cool.” – Did “skinship” prompt this?

    • mikecorea

      LOL…. kind of indirectly. Nobody actually said the word but the topic at the moment was public displays of affection…and one student was saying they are much more common in the west….and this sort of led to distinctions between handholding and all things beyond hand holding. It was hilarious to here hints of what is culturally permissable where.

      Thanks for the comments and reminder of the term skinkship!

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  7. Scott Thornbury

    I don’t do blog challenges on my blog, because the format is quite limiting (An A to Z of…) but your blog (and Carol’s) did get me thinking. These are some of the things that happened today:

    1. My students’ problems with the notion of ‘phoneme’ prompted me to read a LOT of bits of old books about the subject, and start preparing a blog post;
    2. On a discussion board about connected speech I started to think about how voice recognition software might enhance pronunciation, an idea I had run by Robin Walker at the TESOL Spain conference last weekend.
    3. I ‘liked’ a pic of two of my former MA TESOL students (one who lived in Korea, one who lived in Japan) at the TESOL Arabia conference in Dubai, with my ‘boss’ Gabriel Diaz Maggiori
    4. I saved a news story from the BBC website which had a great example of the third conditional, and discovered that a close friend had done exactly the same.
    5. I read a chapter from a new book on gesture and language by David McNeill and had to get out of bed so as to make notes about it on a powerpoint I am preparing for Australia in the fall.
    6. I forwarded an audio file of an interview that a colleague from Japan did with me last week here in Barcelona to a contact in Oman who has set up a transcribing service and has offered to transcribe it free in return for me publicising his initiative;
    7. I agreed, on a skype call with my line manager sort of person, to provide the structure for the New School presentation at the TESOL Convention in Dallas next week, even though I know that this will take up most of my weekend
    8. I posted a response to Jeremy Harmer’s blog post on Sugata Mitra, and I also invited Jeremy into the New School MA TESOL Facebook site, because he was having problems getting in,
    9. I donated an undisclosed sum to Wikimedia because I think they are a great service and deserve every penny they can get, and I tweeted about this (this was prompted by me looking up a reference for my comment on Jeremy’s blog).
    10. And I wrote this comment on Mike’s blog!

    A good day, all in all.

    • mikecorea

      Thanks for sharing these and for commenting, Scott.

      I guess “C is for Cool Things” wouldn’t really work. As Carol mentioned somewhere it is great to get a glimpse into the teaching lives of others through seeing some of the cool things going on.
      As you might guess, I particularly enjoyed the New School alumni pic!
      I am off to check Jeremy Harmer’s blog post, then!
      (By the way your tweet about Mitra perhaps being overrated lead to some interesting links/tweets…One of which was this one:

      Have a great time and TESOL!
      (Hope to see you there someday!!)


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      • Adam Simpson

        Thanks, Mike. I don’t think there are right words for this.

        I really pondered not writing the post, as this wasn’t something for which I wanted to gain personal attention. I went ahead, though, thinking that there would at some point be someone needing to know that their pain is understood by others, and because I found some links with good advice for such situations.

        Sad times, indeed.

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  10. annloseva

    Wow, thanks for the adjectives to introduce me and my share.) Another cool thing that happened to me after I published it was that one of my students wrote his 5 Cool Things in a message to me, 2 of them were connected with our lessons and 1 with his personal learning experience! felt pretty good to me=)
    As I said it in my post, I took enormous pleasure in reading your roller-coaster post (c)! Several points were particularly hilarious, as were some comments))
    Good to be here on WP.

    • mikecorea

      I was going to officially welcome you to WordPress (RIP Posterous). It is my pleasure to share your post and the adjectives that surely fit you well! Excellent to hear about your student(s) charting cool things and some of them being related to class. 🙂

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