Friday, February 01, 2008

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star - 자은볠

I am almost two years here in Korea, 10 months the first time and this second time around I've been here for more than 10 months again, the sad thing is I could hardly speak the language. Well I can introduce myself and say hello and thank you. But of course lately I am starting to pick up some words, the familiar ones I am beginning to recognize them but when it is spoken fast everything becomes so foreign to me.

(girls at orphanage learning the story with their story map)

Last Saturday I went with my new found family friend to an orphanage where KONA (Korean Organization of Natural Approach) is doing volunteer work. There were 10 kids of various ages (8-12), 4 boys and 6 girls enrolled in an English Class. Their teacher, coach, mentor are kids like themselves who are learning the KONA Pedagogy which employs story map.

(Hanul in the middle and blue shirt teaching other kids the story)

I was amazed though when I found out that the story telling is by use of computer or stories online. They listen several times to the story on the computer, after they do their story map and then they tell the story they learned to other children one on one and then they have a group reading session where everybody listens to the reader in front. They also have board games to recognize the new words they learned. One of the moms of the volunteer children would read and give a pep talk to conclude the session.

On the way I was asked by the children how was my experience, I told them that I felt happy for the orphan children for being so fortunate that they have KONA volunteer children to spend time with them two Saturdays a month and teaching them English through stories. I told the children that in my country we have a lot of orphans who live miserably,no house, no food and no education.

According to Prof. Youngim Kim, the founder of KONA, her volunteers are composed of research students (kids) and their mothers and other adults (teachers or student teachers). She like to compare them to Anne of Anne of Green Gables, they are contributing to the improvement of society like visiting the Orphanages and Community and Children Center to teach English using storybooks and internet stories.

The following are the main activities of KONA Volunteers Project:

1) Teaching English to Underprivileged kids using storybooks at Orphanages and Community Children Center

2) Cultural Exchange through Homestay with Foreigners

3) Education for Immigrated Foreign Wives and their children

4) Youth Leadership Exchange with Foreign countries. (Future Project)

So as a new volunteer, I am entitled and a willing guinea pig I am, to learn Korean using the story map technique. I have taken Korean lesson previously and I have forgotten since I was not able to use it for a year.

This evening for our first session I am proven again to be a tyro o real kindergarten. I have to start all over again and what an appropriate lesson it was to start with learning a kindergarten song, or toddler song even - twinkle, twinkle little star, but it is in Korean version.

So these pictures show how we did it:

My tutors, the boy is Hanul (Vincent) and his sister Hangyul (Christine), in front of the PC for the online song - 자은볠. They asked me to listen to 3 songs and I chose this less challenging song.

I was asked to make a story map or is it a song map. Well I wrote the Korean words like kindergarten as well. I got to learn again the use of a thick eraser like to good 'ole days.

So after writing the story map, I have to read them the story in Korean. I was wondering about the tolerance level of these kids teaching me since I have to repeat saying the words again and again for I keep forgetting and recognizing the Korean letters.

But we have to have fun as well. After reading the story to the kids, and I have to read it to their dad, Dr. Young-ki Park and their mom (sorry I forgot her name, ugh... I was not given her business card and it was not written in my notebook, she was the lady who made these shots, thank you maam). My assignment is to read the stories to my friends or officemates and have them sign my story map notebook as a proof.

By the way the game is called Yutnori (Four-Stick Games), tradtional or folk game played especially during Seollal (Lunar New year).

Yes, I gave them a story book published by Hiyas entitled Peter and Ahmed, we did not finished the story since it was a bit late. The story is about friendship of two boys of different religions. I observed that Hangyul's vocabulary is quite good. Both kids are very eager to learn English, their parents I found out does not speak to them in English. A comment from them that struck me is that they find sleeping boring, I could only laugh since this winter season I 've been sleeping or rather hibernating like a frog, just want to be snug in bed.

Aside from the free dinner in a vegetarian buffet, I was given a box of kim (seeweed) as a send off, oh they even drove me home , just 10 minute walk to my place.

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