Saturday, October 29, 2016

Inktober

Day 1: The Artist's Climb
When I made the decision to do Inktober this year, I really wasn't sure if I would (a) be able to draw a picture every day and (b) produce anything to be proud of. I've never really challenged my artistic abilities. I've drawn things here and there for fun or for other people, but usually I just try to recreate a cartoon image. Here, at times I was trying to combine elements from different sources, attempting to draw 2D based on 3D models, and at times trying to pull something out of thin air (although I think those were the worst). Definitely not my comfort zone.
Day 3: Web Connections; inspired by the Magic School Bus
Day 4; a combination of three model images
 And yet each day, somehow I was able to put to paper an impression of what I wanted (or almost).
Day 7; based off a 3D artwork
Day 9: Broken Telephone; 3D model
A few days in, I started following the official prompt list as an inspiration point (designated by the # in the photos). I liked the challenge of creating an image that fit a given word. At times, I chose to draw something that obviously fit, while at other points, I tried to stretch the understanding of the given prompt.
Day 10: Cottage Dock
Day 14; I tried drawing two different trees before doing this one
I think the hardest part for me was the lack of eraser. I'm so used to sketching and then erasing, perfecting each line multiple times until it looks exactly the way I want it. With ink though... Every line was permanent.
Day15: Dog Days; I wished for a hammock
I may not be heading toward fame with my artwork (Ha!) but after this month, I'm a lot more comfortable with ink between my figures. There were still days when I didn't want to post what I drew, embarrassed or unhappy with the final result. But inktober is all about trying, I think. My favourite for the month was early on (Day 12; prompt: worried) because I was able to include so much detail and shading. Inspired by the White Rabbit, here it is:
Worried about being late?
My second favourite, was in an inversed style (lines white, main black) is currently my most liked photo on instagram with nearly 140 likes as I write this. I think that is in part due to fandom appeal. Inspired by my favourite childhood tv show (Digimon), the image also appropriately fits the prompt "escape:"
Day 18: Digivice with Crest of Light
Inktober is almost over and hopefully I'll be able to squeeze in the last couple of drawings before the end of the month. I'm on my way to Hanoi, Vietnam today for my vacation week and I've left my notebook behind. Haha. Still, I am proud of what I've accomplished in the last 29 days.

I'm looking forward to seeing a new country and having new adventures.

Love and Hugs

Monday, October 17, 2016

Language Learning, The Inner Battle

Learning Korean is making me a better English Teacher.

This might seem like a strange statement if you've never tried to learn an additional language, but if you're familiar with the feeling of helplessness that comes from the early stages of trying to communicate when you know nothing, then you probably know what I'm taking about.
The many books I have collected (so far) to teach me Korean things...
As I work to improve my Korean, I think I'm understanding what some of my students feel when they are sitting in the classroom and the teacher expects them to speak English. When I encounter situations where I have to listen and speak, I get anxious and nervous and fumbling through the simple sentences and words that I know I know. I've read that listening and speaking are generally the first skills picked up when learning a new language, but for me I'm more comfortable reading and writing. I have more time to think it through.

A foreign block of text can be overwhelming.
I must have gone through a similar process when learning French in elementary school, but I don't remember what it was like anymore. As a 6 or 7 year old, I doubt I analyzed my use of French vocabulary and grammar. Ha! The transition from non-speaking to speaking is all a blur... I do, however, remember not knowing the words and at times French-ifying an English word so that it sounded like it belonged in my sentences... Alas, that only got me so far.

As an adult learning a new language, I now find myself questioning how I managed to learn both English and French in the first place... Past-me, why do you make it seem so easy? Le sigh.

Here's a brief glimpse of the thoughts that swirl through my head when I encounter a situation in Korean.

My Inner Thought Battle:
  • There is that moment when someone says something to me and my brain scrambles to make sense of it. 

  • If I manage to understand, I feel a brief moment of elation--YES!--and then I realize they want a response. 

  • My brain stalls. Which words do I use? What grammar do I use? If I say it this way will it make sense?

  • Wait. How much time has passed now? Ahhhhh! They're staring at me. I think they've waited too long... they probably think I don't know. 

  • If I answer now, will it be awkward? What was I going to say again? 
Following these thoughts, I either freeze up or fumble through a sentence, feeling slightly defeated. The worst part is that despite the fact that I might have understood and that I do know what I want to say, I can't always articulate that to the other person. 

I wonder how many of my students are stuck in similar situations in class...  In my own classroom, is there too much emphasis on oral production and not enough on inner cognition? How many of my students feel the pressure of needing to answer quickly and then, as a result, feel like they can't think and put their ideas into the right words?

In practice, the exercises are short and controlled.
Now, as I stand before my students, sometimes I feel like I can hear those same thoughts screaming through their heads. There is that moment when their eyes widen and I can almost see the debate raging: do they have time to try and figure out what is being asked and response? Or should they glance to a friend, relying on a quick translation?

For me, this is an important reminder. Some of my students are so quick to respond that I sometimes forget English is their second (or third) language. And yet others are still fine tuning their listening and production skills. I need to be mindful of the inner battles raging within my students so that I can create a safe space where they feel comfortable relying on and improving their own skills. Am I talking too fast? Have I introduced words that they don't know yet? What supports can I put in place to help decrease confounding stress?

As I push forward in my own Korean studies, I hope that I can learn more about how I can help my students with their English. I hope that my revelation has been able to help someone else, too.

Love and Hugs.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Update

Plumb tuckered out. But still alive. ㅎ

That describes how I feel at this moment in time.

I decided to take an additional basic qualification course this semester so that I could teach English to Intermediate level students. With my residence and day school duties, I know that I have to balance, but I knew I would still be able to manage. What I didn't consider was my current Korean class (+homework) and that I would be taking a swim qualification course so that I could supervise students at our pool. With everything colliding at once, I feel like a rag-doll pulled in all directions. And every time my butt finds a chair, I tend to flop to one side or the other. I dream of sleep. ㅋㅋ.

I haven't had much opportunity to do any new hiking, too, and now's the perfect time for it--not too hot and not too cold. Sadness!

Chère famille, I'm still alive and despite being tired I am well. I send you my love and hugs.

Please enjoy this picture of the "Loner Tree" (왕따 나무; Wang-dda Na-mu) that I visited briefly with my friend at the end of September.


The end.

For now.