Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Accidental Teacher?

Teaching is what I do. Teaching is what I do to earn a living for myself and my family. I am a teacher at a school five days a week and a teacher at home the other two. I suppose I am a teacher at home everyday. Everyday I'm attempting to teach my son how to speak, how to have fun, how to walk and how to not throw and break everything he can get his hands on.

As I look back on my adult life, a younger Kevin could have never imagined himself becoming a teacher. I remember, while in my early twenties, my older brother graduating from an Education program and getting his first job as a teacher. I remember his tales of the classroom and I thought to myself, "I could never do what he does." Fast forward many years and here I am. A professional teacher with a teaching degree and a license. I never would have thought it.

What happened?

How did I become something I thought I could never do?

I suppose I knew fairly quickly that I liked teaching. My first class of young learners was in a city called Ilsan in South Korea. I was their language teacher and it was early 2002. After the initial few months of shock wore off (having a room full of six year olds run me ragged), I felt like this was a fun job. After all, I had been a performer (singer, actor, general clown) in years past and in a way, I was taking a stage everyday when I walked into that classroom. Everyday I was standing in front of a small audience and having to captivate and excite them. I had to hold their attention and entertain them. More importantly, I had to teach them something of value.

After some years of that I knew that teaching was the profession for me. I saved my money, applied to Education programs in Canada and eventually received my teaching credentials.

Now I am here in Japan doing what I think I do best. I'm teaching a group of intelligent and funny little people (I don't mean dwarves) everyday. There are of course ups and downs. Sometimes the downs can be really low and often the ups are very high.

As look at the future, I sometimes get more than a little down though. I am a Canadian who misses home. I want to take my skills and use them in classrooms in Canada. Sadly though, there seem to be too many people deciding to become teachers every year. I know that I will be able to find a classroom somewhere, but it probably won't be the place I want to go. Then again, maybe it will be! I think the next few years will lead me and my family down some very interesting and exciting paths for sure.

For the time being though, I am here, in Japan doing the think I know I am meant to do. I'm teaching.

Here are a couple of pictures from 2005 when I was teaching adult students at a school in downtown Seoul South Korea. I only taught adult learners for one year, but it was an enjoyable experience.

In the theme of teaching, the other day, while commuting home from school I thought about making a video tutorial. What could I make one about? The answer was clear. I make lots of videos on You Tube about Asian food. Why not make one about how to eat the stuff? Here is my first ever video tutorial, "How to use chopsticks."

You can find me on TWITTER: @jlandkev

Monday, August 22, 2011

Babies, Videos and Writer's Blahhhh...

Hey there folks! I hope you are all doing extremely well and I of course want to thank each and every one of you for simply being so awesome!

I think all my readers are great. All of the fine folks who watch my video blogs are great and in general....hmmm....what was I talking about? Lost my train of though....

The Japanese Obon holiday season is over and I was back to work today. During the past nine days I didn't have to deal with work. It was nice. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with work, but as we all know, vacation is simply often better than work. I spent a lot of time playing with my son and even more time not working on my book about teaching in Korea and Japan. Now that I am back into my weekly work routine, I will begin writing again. Actually, I already wrote a little today. It felt good.

I'm also struggling to get back into running regularly. The amount of heat we have had this summer has really put me off and family life has also made it difficult to find time to run. Long distance running when you have a baby at home isn't always the easiest thing to juggle.

This past week, I've been focused mostly on this guy. Running and writing will be there anytime, but having the chance to be with my son as he learns to walk will only happen once.

Last Saturday was the day for three small festivals in my neighborhood. Sadly it rained all day, but that didn't kep many of the local kids from having fun!

There was to be dancing in the evening at this festival, but heavy rains closed things up earlier than most would have liked!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Kimchi Onigiri 김치 오니기리

Convenience stores in Japan are definitely convenient. they are located everywhere, open 24 hours a day and normally have their shelves stocked with a wide variety of interesting and captivating products. You might be thinking, "What the hell is Kevin talking about? Convenience stores aren't interesting." In Japan however, they most certainly are!

A popular food throughout Japan is "onigiri." Essentially, onigiri is a rice ball. Many things can be added or mixed with the rice in order to enhance its flavour. The other day while stopping by a 7-11 convenience store close to work, I saw something interesting on the shelves. A kimchi-fried rice onigiri. I had to try it. It was basically a fusion of Korea (Kimchi), Chinese (cha-han or fired rice) and onigiri (Japanese rice ball).

You can find out more about my thoughts and reactions while eating the kimchi onigiri by watching my food review video!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Teaching in kindergartens

For many people heading to South Korean and Japan every year to teach English, kindergartens are their first jobs. Some are good places to work while others are not always. Some kindergarten jobs offer decent salaries and teachers are treated well. Some involve long hours and a relatively low wage compared to other ESL jobs.

Here is a little more about working in kindergartens in both Korea and Japan (my latest video):

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Japanese Eats: Pepsi Energy Cola

It is summer around the northern hemisphere of this big ole ball we refer to as "earth"! It is sumer and if you live in Japan (and many other places), it is freakin hot! It is really hot. In order to get us folks through the summer, the fine people at Pepsi begin getting a little creative. Each summer, Pepsi comes out with some new, and often whacky, summer special flavours.

A few years ago we had Pepsi Shiso. then there was Pepsi Azuki. Now there is Pepsi Caribbean Gold and well as Pepsi Energy Cola. I first saw Pepsi energy Cola a few weeks ago at my local Lawson convenience store and had to grab a can. i quickly realized that it was an energy drink akin to Red Bull. I HAD to try it.

Here is my review of a limited time "in Japan" drink:

Here is my 2 year old review of Pepsi Shiso:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Teaching in Asia: Private Lessons

If you ever have the opportunity to teach in Asia, you will quickly learn that a great way to supplement your income is with private lessons. There can definitely be benefits to teaching them, but depending on where you live and what sort of visa you have, there may be risks as well.

Watch my "Teaching in Asia: Private Lessons" video to find out more!