JANUARY 30, 2008


Tools of EFL trade
Sean Smith on EFL
Expat living is a page dedicated to the issues that affect foreigners' daily lives. It is your page, where you can share stories about your life in Korea. Send story ideas to Matthew Lamers at mattlamers@heraldm.com
PHOTO CHALLENGE — This week’s challenge asked you to show us “a cityscape.” The statue of Maitreya Buddha at Bongeun temple looks out on the colorful landscape of Seoul near COEX. Bongeunsa is an amazing retreat where you can observe and reflect on the fast-paced life of the capital. Photo by Tomasz Roszkowski

Demystifying fan. death
Despite my strenuous efforts to publicize the threat posed to humanity by electric fans, most everybody in the developed world still falls asleep on hot, humid summer nights in close proximity to those electrically powered, whirling blades of mortality, blissfully blind to the danger, perhaps never more to awaken. Theories abound on how fans kill, but the empirical fact cannot be reasonably denied, even though many expats living here in Korea stubbornly refuse to acknowledge the truth that electric fans left blowing overnight can kill a full-grown, sleeping man. I admit that I once stood among the stubborn scoffers, but what made me a believer, even a proselytizer for the truth, was a close brush with fan death in the late summer and early fall of 2006. Hoping to persuade disbelievers, I posted my experience online: “How can people doubt fan death!? Fans kill thousands each year, but most deaths go unreported because the fans are in different rooms. A littleknown fact is that whirling blades disturb the ether pervading our universe, and ripple effects impair organisms up to 500 feet distant. “This summer, fans killed several of my son’s pets. First, a stag beetle died when our younger cat, driven mad by ethereal ripples, overturned the beetle’s plastic terrarium and fought the poor insect to death. Miraculously, the cat survived. Our eel was not so lucky. Driven insane by the whirling blades’ insidious disturbance of the ether, it managed to flip itself from its aquarium — through a tiny hole in the top! — and die. We found it on the floor ... shriveled and dry. That could happen to you! Since then, two other stag beetles have died. Snails as well. And a goldfish has turned deathly white! Scary. “Thankfully, our cats and children have survived, but we are taking no more chances, especially now that our two fans have started altering weather patterns in our apartment. In these past two

Ask the photographer – Investing in photography
By David Smeaton

Jeffery Hodges on Language
autumn days, they have actually been blowing cool air at night — even without air-conditioning units attached! We think the fans are trying to freeze us to death, so we are putting them away in a closet, completely covered in bags zipped carefully shut to prevent them causing even more damage.” Back to reality. Nearly all non-Koreans reading this sincere, personal testimony resist the truth. Typical response: “You are stupid.” Indeed, I have been called not merely stupid but also crazy, drug-addled, and ignorant. Even my scientific knowledge has been questioned — yes, questioned, despite my master’s degree ... in the history of SCIENCE! More disappointing than personal attacks from nonKoreans, however, is my premonition of losing the battle, for one recent challenge comes not merely from another fan-death skeptic but from a Korean fan-death skeptic ridiculing her mother’s concerns: “My mother used to awaken EVERY night at 3 a.m. to open my brother’s bedroom door because he slept with the ceiling fan on. Since he would never heed her advice about leaving the bedroom door open if he was going to have his fan on, she was horrified that the fan would SUCK the air from the closed room and leave only the empty shell of a human being as her son.” Such loving care — love that only a mother could bestow — wasted. Yet, even if I am losing against fan-death ignorance, I shall never, ever surrender. Why? Because fans are killers. Proof? Here comes proof in a language lesson: Why do you think they are called fans? “Fan” abbreviates “fanatic.” You cannot trust fanatics. Trust no fan, either. Jeffery is a professor at Kyung Hee University and can be reached through his blog Gypsy Scholar at gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com — Ed.

I’m at a point where I need to decide how much money I should invest in photography. I don’t really make a profit, but I want to know how best to spend my money on photographic equipment. What would you advise? — Sarah, Seoul Investing in photography as a hobbyist is difficult because you can’t expect to make any money back on your spending. So it’s hard to make a recommendation that could apply to everyone. If you want to buy gear that will last you for a long time, invest your money in lenses rather than camera bodies. Lenses hold their value and keep their usefulness much longer. A 10-or 15-year-old lens is still very useful. However, like all technology, camera bodies are old after two or three years. They constantly get replaced with newer,

faster models. So the resale value on camera bodies is very poor. High-end cameras do hold a little more value, but don’t fool yourself into believing you’ll get much back on it later. Photographers tend to be lens junkies. There should be a “photographers anonymous” group for people who compulsively buy photography gear. But the best advice I can give is to buy lenses and kit you will use often. A fisheye is a fun lens, but not if it just sits in your bag. A fast and expensive f2.8 lens is great, but also a waste of money if you aren’t using the lens to its full potential. Although I think that the cost of the gear is important, you also have to weigh up how useful the equipment will be for you. Personally, I consider myself a travel photographer, so I sacrifice quality to buy lenses that are lighter and easier to carry. I don’t want to travel around the world with

10 kilograms of camera gear. High quality lenses tend to be heavy. Consumer grade lenses are often just as useful, but cost and weigh much less. Find out what kind of photography you’re likely to do the most, consider how often you’ll use the gear, how much it costs, and how much you can afford. Invest in equipment that you will use often. If you get five to 10 years of use out of your gear, and you’ve taken lots of wonderful photos, then it’s money well spent. That’s far more important than resale value. Happy shooting. Send David a message at davidsmeaton@gmail.com or visit his website at www.davidsmeaton.com. If you want to be a part of the weekly Photo Challenge, join the “Seoul Photo Club” group at flickr (flickr.com/groups/seoulphotoclub). — Ed.

Documentary of agony
By Keith Fitzgerald

In 2003, Anthony Gilmore was a 25-yearold Midwestern American in a Korean Studies graduate program at Korea University. In one of his classes, there was a section on the Japanese Imperial Army’s sex slave system from the 1930s until the atomic bombs convinced Emperor Hirohito and his cronies to surrender. Anthony was so disturbed and fascinated by the story that he decided to make a film about this vital chapter in the 20th century’s book of horrors. After three years of work, the documentary, “Behind Forgotten Eyes,” has been finished. It is so powerful and instructive that it ought to be seen by every high school student and every one else in the Americas and Europe who is not familiar with this part of World War II history. “Behind Forgotten Eyes” focuses on six old people who share their stories in devastating detail. Three are former sex slaves who live now at the House of Sharing in Gyeonggi Province, and three are veterans of the Japanese army. The men are war criminals who have decided to defy the code of silence. Listening to these folks speak will rivet and haunt you. At the beginning, we see a lady named Park Oak-yun, who was incarcerated in Papua New Guinea for seven years, look into the camera, and say: “I don’t like doing this anymore. It’s pointless.” And Ms. Moon Pil-gi: “I don’t want to tell that story.” Her hell was in Manchuria. A third woman at the shelter, Kang Il-chul, whose world was made miserable in Mudanjiang, China, seems more determined to be heard, even if this is the umpteenth telling of it, and the pain never goes any-

where. The three Japanese veterans were all part of the China campaign. No matter how much of this you may have read or heard or seen before, the stories these people tell stick in the soul. There is Mr. Suzuki in his comfy little living room, where he recounts how he used straw to burn to death a mother and her baby: “I watched until the room was engulfed in flames, and then I shut the door.” Behind him as he speaks, arrayed on a shelf is a collection of cute dolls. Later, we see his darling wife sit down

day. You wonder if, in the midst of that depravity, there was ever any tenderness at all. Was any man ever gentle? Did anyone ever feel anything for anyone else? Moon Pil-gi says the Japanese troops were “very coldhearted. They haunt me in my dreams ... I am ashamed of what happened. I feel empty. Why was I born a woman? I always think about these things.” This 82-year-old lady is a poet of a desolation so deep, only death can end it. Yet there is her sweetness, a joyful smile that comes from somewhere, and you wonder how any-

‘Behind Forgotten Eyes’ is so powerful and instructive that it ought to be seen by every high school student.
next to him, smiling innocently, and he says to her: “You don’t need to be here, so please leave.” And then he relates how he went to the rape shacks so many times, he can’t recall. He giggles and explains that the system was a failure. It was supposed to have the effect of cutting way down on rape out in the field, by systematizing it in “comfort stations.” But the soldiers “raped more because they felt unsatisfied,” Yoshio confides. Kaneko Yasuji’s narrative is overwhelming. No tears, no other signs, in his face, of torment. He just lays out the horrifying facts like this: “We killed women because they could have babies. We killed babies because they would grow up and resist us.” The film claimed that there was typically one rape station — five or six barracks with five or six girls or women in each — per 1,000 soldiers. Sometimes, as many as 50 soldiers had their way with one captive per one who has endured what she has does not become a killer or a suicide or both. One of the most effective sequences in the film is when we see old man Kaneko Yasuji going for a stroll in his neighborhood in Higashi-Yamato in northeast Tokyo. In a voiceover narration, he tells about the time he and a comrade tried to rape a woman who was taking care of her four-year-old child. She resisted. The other soldier got furious, and threw her down into a well. Her boy kept walking around the well crying “Mama!” Then the little one went into the house, got a chair, took it to the well, got up on it, and jumped in to be with his mother. Impassively, Kaneko says: “I pitied them, and threw a grenade into the well.” For more information, visit the film’s website www.behindforgotteneyes.com — Ed. (jukjuk@heraldm.com)

Every teacher uses tools in the classroom, some of which are more common than others. Some include; chalk/markers, a textbook and dice for games. Other tools will be less commonly used, but worth considering if you do not already use them. Class management requires a variety of tools. Reseating exercises to get students interacting with new partners is always useful. “Classroom Dynamics” by Jill Hadfield has a number of good activities in this area. One activity that I regularly use is called Airport Lounge. Role cards are created for groups of four and distributed randomly. Students then mingle about the classroom looking for others in their group. One group could be a film crew, another a tour group, another the pilot and cabin crew. This gets students animated and then once they find their group, they sit together. This is an excellent way to prevent students from sitting with the same partners in every class. An excel file with eight groups of four is available for download at my blog. My favorite reseating trick, random number assignment, was given to me by a colleague. On the first class of the semester assign each student a number — from 1 to 25 based on attendance list order works well. Next visit w w w. m d a n i . d e m o n . co.uk/para/random.htm and generate a list of random numbers for each class. Put the list on the board in random order with table assignments. For example — students 1, 14, 7, 6 sit at table 1. A digital voice recorder and camcorder are two more essential tools for the language classroom. Digital voice recorders have many uses for the language teacher. It is possible to record discussions and then later in the class have students listen to themselves and see if they can notice their mistakes. Alternatively, students could be asked to transcribe their conversations and try to find mistakes. This works best with shorter conversations or segments of about 60-120 seconds. Camcorders can be used for the same functions as a digital voice recorder as well as creating video shorts to share with other classes, or the world via YouTube, or other video sharing sites. One activity that I have used with success is to have students create commercials for or against piracy, smoking, or drinking and driving. Students are given the choice of filming and editing themselves, after which they submit to me the finished product or they can act it out in class and I record them with my camcorder. Once I have all the videos completed, I upload them to YouTube where students are instructed to watch themselves and provide a self-analysis of what they did right and how they could improve. It has been my experience that students find this process very motivating and beneficial to language production. Finally, a stopwatch is an excellent tool. It’s great for pacing activities; when I give students 10 minutes to prepare something — and I really only have 10 minutes — I time it. The stopwatch is also very good for speeches, role plays and timed activities. Vocabulary games often become more exciting (and loud) when the timer is running. Sean Smith teaches English at Hanyang University and may be contacted via his website http://eflgeek.com — Ed.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful