Sunday, December 2, 2012

Speech Contest

Once a year (aka: once a contract), I have to work on a Saturday. Today was that day. I had to come in to work in the MORNING (yuck!) and be a judge/interviewer for the SLP Speech Contest. Back in early October, all the kids had to do a Writing Contest. They HATE Writing Contest.

Bryan, Me, Erin, and Sean.
Basically, I give them a prompt. They take it home and "practice", then the following week, during class, I give them the prompt again and this time they must write from their heads on the topic. They've had some time to prepare so for the most part they have some kind of information to use, ... but sometimes they are lazy and don't.

After the writing, we have to read and edit all the papers. Then we give the marked up copy back to the kids, and they do a rewrite for homework. At that point, we collect the rewrite, copy it, and they keep it to memorize.

This cutie with his tie...
About a week later, during class we have a Presentation Day. All the kids during that class period go into the Play Room and present their writing. The teachers judge, and the winner of the Writing Contest and also the winner of the Presentations are announced: top 3 from each group of kids.

At that point, the kids (usually the winners, but some of the older students like to do it even if they did not place) get the chance to participate in the Speech Contest. They practice for about a month, and even have coaching sessions and extra classes to make sure they memorize exactly, and add gestures and intonation to their speaking.

After all this hard work, they come in on a Saturday and present their speeches. All the foreign afternoon teachers judge their abilities, based on speed/fluency, content, pronunciation, and presentation/confidence. We also ask 2 follow-up questions and they get judged on their on-the-spot responses to those as well. It's actually a little cruel, I think.

She looked like a princess with her matching gloves...
Anyway, today was the day! We had to get there at 9am. I have no idea why, because we just sat in the work room until 10am when the contest began. We sat on the sides of a big room (actually 3 classrooms with the barriers taken away and made into 1 room), so the parents could see, and listened to 42 Korean kids talk about various topics from "My dream job" to "My opinion on bullying" (with the ability level also ranging, appropriately!)

It was interesting to see all the parents of the kids, although I only had about 5 in the contest. (For the record, I teach the lower level classes... this is not actually a reflection of my teaching skills!) Anyway, a few of my kids did come say hello and I wished them good luck. We started the whole thing with the director giving a speech (in Korean) for about 15 minutes. I have no idea what he could drag on about for that long as a "welcome" speech, but he managed. Finally, we began.

The first 21 kids were pretty boring, although a few were really cute. Unfortunately, I didn't record any of my favorites since by the time I realized how cute they were, it was too late to start recording! But I recorded a few of my students, and even a few others just in case they were good (mostly, they weren't...)

Anyway, apparently we weren't taking long enough with those kids (asking only 2 questions, which was what we were told to do...) so for the next set of slightly higher level students, we were told to take more time and ask more questions. So, I asked additional questions.

Afternoon teachers.
Well, after about 15 minutes of that, I get a slip of paper saying "Don't ask so many Q's"... The glare happening in your mind is just about what was on my face when I looked up at Jackie. But then again, what did I expect?

We got done pretty quickly, with no major happenings to report. Just your basic, run of the mill speeches. When we had a small break, the director made another speech of his own. We knew we were running early, and because some of the kids would not arrive for a little while longer, I guess the director decided to kill some time. This fool talked for 25 minutes. Have you ever sat in a small room, where you are being stared at, listening to someone talk in a language you have no idea what they are saying? It's beyond boring into the realm of cruel and unusual torture. Add to that the tension between the director and basically all the foreign teachers, and it was pretty difficult to sit through.

FINALLY we finished up and did awards ceremony. None of my kids placed, but I wasn't really surprised. I felt bad for a few of the older girls who were really very good but didn't place. Tough competition!

Afterwards, we cleaned up and helped get the rooms back in working order for work on Monday. I was about to head out when Jackie stopped us at the elevator to say the director offered to treat us to lunch today. One of my rules: never turn down a free meal. So, I stuck around and we went to an Italian restaurant near the school.

While we were waiting, Michelle and I decided to take a photo. The first one looked a little awkward, and I asked her to retake the photo. She said "I want to learn how to pose like you!" I said, "DONE!" I arranged her with her hand on hip, told her to pop her hip out a little, and lean back slightly. When I got her just right, I got in position next to her for the picture. I think it came out well, but told her to keep practicing and it will look more natural soon. Haha!

At the restaurant, I got some pasta that was okay. We all kind of shared each other's meals, and that was weird to me, so I kind of did not abide by this practice. Oops! It ended up just being 8 teachers, 4 foreign and 4 Korean. Jackie had to leave (I think maybe a personal emergency) and the director didn't come (thank goodness). Michelle ended up having to go before we could get to the restaurant. It was really fun, though. And without Jackie, I think the Korean teachers could let loose a little more.

After lunch, I headed to Hongdae to hang out with Tab while she got a hair cut. After that, we searched for some food for Tab. We ended up eating at a place called "Western Fried Rice" and the "western" part was KETCHUP. Yuck. We ate as much as we could, then decided we wanted dessert. Somehow we ended up at TGIFridays and I had combo-dessert and drink - Ice Cream Sandwich drink. It was so yummy! Our bartender, K, was really nice and at 8, he and Teddy (another bartender/waiter) did a little show. It was so cute! Apparently Teddy won best bartender in Korea (for TGIFridays only I think!).

We met 3 Air Force airmen while we were there and Tab chatted away (per usual). We left there around 9.

What I did the rest of the evening will remain a mystery, until tomorrow...!


  1. Surely I am an incompetent! This is my 3rd comment, with google buzzing off with the first two. By now, I am TRULY an incomp - All I want you to know is - you are SO LOVED!!! And your blogs are AWESOME. Sorry you had to sit thru boring speech of "director" aka SNOB of SEOUL. However, you are doing absolutely fantastic & that is no shock to anyone. Thanks so much for sharing your Saturday "adventure". Awaiting the next installment...


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