Thursday, March 7, 2013

Emperor opens March 8 at Squirrel Hill's Manor Theater.

Emperor Movie Poster

The movie Emperor, starring Tommy Lee Jones as Douglas MacArthur and dealing with the question of trying Emperor Hirohito as a war criminal following World War II, opens nationwide tomorrow and will be in Pittsburgh at Squirrel Hill's Manor Theater.
As General Douglas MacArthur (Jones) suddenly finds himself the de facto ruler of a foreign nation, he assigns an expert in Japanese culture - General Bonner Fellers (Fox), to covertly investigate the looming question hanging over the country: should the Japanese Emperor, worshiped by his people but accused of war crimes, be punished or saved?
The City Paper didn't really care for it--[it] "might have been informative and even provocative, but winds up being a lackluster, unsatisfying affair."---and it's doubtful 100 minutes of pop history will do justice to a question with lingering implications today.

The Manor Theater's page has showtimes for Friday and the weekend.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

City Paper on Pittsburghers teaching English in Korea.

This week's Pittsburgh City Paper looks at locals who have gone overseas to teach English as a Foreign Language in South Korea.
Applicants do not have to have any teaching experience, but they must have earned a bachelor's degree in some field from an accredited university.

Monthly salaries vary by Korean province and the metropolitan area teachers are placed in. [English Program in Korea]'s site shows the minimum salary is about $1,700 per month. Salaries rise for applicants with teaching experience and for those with advanced degrees.

"The benefits of coming here are great. You make a good salary and have good vacation time. EPIK also pays for your plane ticket, gives you starting money and a furnished apartment that is rent-free," [Megan] Rees [of McKees Rocks] wrote in an email interview. "Americans living in Korea pay no taxes for two years and get the pension deductions from their paycheck back when they leave Korea."
. . .
EPIK teachers sign a one-year contract and have the option to renew. Giegel [of Observatory Hill] is considering signing on for another year. After two years in South Korea, Rees says she has decided to take a job to teach English in Japan beginning in May.

"My dream in life is to travel the world and experience living in different cultures," says Rees. "It gives you the [confidence to start] a new life from scratch, and it teaches you the world is bigger than what you have known growing up."
Even before the "Great Recession", teaching English in Asia has been an attractive option for recent college graduates. There are local chapters of the Japan Exchange and Teaching [JET] Programme, and there are numerous blogs by Pittsburghers in South Korea, including Brian in Jeollanam-do (teacher-turned-columnist) and Good for Man's Health (teacher-turned-bar-owner).

Teaching overseas is a viable short-term option, but in recent years the market has soured for older, experienced teachers who price themselves out of jobs because schools only want to pay young, cheap ones. Conveniently enough, the Korea Herald today has part one of a two-part series on the phasing-out of native-speaker English teachers in South Korea, cuts and shifting priorities that started several years ago.
[Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education] and [Gyeonggi Provincial Office of Education] emphasized that their programs, both started in 2005, were never meant to last.

The English Program in Korea ― similar to the programs run by Seoul and Gyeonggi and South Jeolla provinces, but run in the rest of Korea ― was started in 1995 to enhance English education, and promote cultural understanding. The NETs would work alongside and train English-proficient Korean teachers, who would eventually replace them.

Seoul said the phaseout was ahead of schedule. It placed NETs in all public schools by 2010, two years earlier than planned, and says its Korean staff’s skills have improved dramatically.

SMOE claimed that 95.6 percent of Korean English teachers had “teaching English in English capacity” by the end of 2011, and began to phase out NETs last year.

GEPIK officials said that while the reductions were planned out, the timing was not. However, they said it was entering the next phase ― handing the classes over to English-proficient Korean teachers.

Taiwanese film Three Times (最好的時光) at Maridon Museum, March 25.

Pittsburgh Three Times 最好的時光

Butler's Maridon Museum will show the 2005 Taiwanese film Three Times (最好的時光) on March 25 as part of this year's Spring Film Series. Wikipedia says:
[Three Times] features three chronologically separate stories of love between May and Chen, set in 1911, 1966 and 2005, using the same lead actors, Shu Qi and Chang Chen.
The Maridon is an Asian art museum at 322 N. McKean St. in downtown Butler (map) that presents Asian films from particular countries as part of its spring and fall series. Last year it was China and Vietnam. The show starts at 6:30 and is presented by Dr. William Covey of Slippery Rock University.

Multicultural Night at O'Hara Elementary School, March 14.

If there are children in your family they might enjoy visiting O'Hara Elementary School (map) in the Fox Chapel Area School District for its Multicultural Night on March 14. There will 20 culture booths including Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, and China; a bunch of local performers; and vendors with Turkish, Korean, and Argentinian food. It will run from 5:30 to 8:00 pm at the School Commons Area.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

IUP Asian Studies Club Film Festival starts March 6.

Spirited AwayLet the Bullets FlyHwang Jin Yi

On March 3rd the Indiana University of Pennsylvania's Asian Studies Program announced its spring film festival, which will have five movies from March 6 through May 1. The first is Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し), a 2001 Japanese animated film playing tomorrow, March 6. Wikipedia sums up its reception:
When released, Spirited Away became the most successful film in Japanese history, grossing over $274 million worldwide. The film overtook Titanic (at the time the top grossing film worldwide) in the Japanese box office to become the highest-grossing film in Japanese history with a $229,607,878 total. Acclaimed by international critics, the film is often considered one of the greatest animated films of all-time [and it won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards, the Golden Bear at the 2002 Berlin International Film Festival (tied with Bloody Sunday) and is among the top ten in the BFI list of the 50 films you should see by the age of 14.
Other films include the Chinese action comedy film set in the 20s Let the Bullets Fly (让子弹飞) and the Korean historical drama Hwang Jin Yi (황진이). The movies will be shown in room 233 Keith Hall (campus map) at 7:00 pm, and all are free and open to the public.

As I wrote three weeks ago about the Foreign Film and Music Festival running now, IUP puts on good foreign film series. The best I've seen in western PA was a Korean film festival nearly a decade ago.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

CMU International Film Festival tickets now on sale.

Crocodile in the Yangtze PittsburghSushi The Global Catch

A couple days ago tickets for the Carnegie Mellon University International Film Festival: Faces of Media went on sale. It runs from March 21 through April 13, and this year there are 16 films plus a short film competition. Relevant to this site is Crocodile on the Yangtze and Sushi: A Global Catch.

"A Critical Discourse Analysis of Li Yang's 'Crazy English': A Look at the English Movement in Mainland China" at Pitt, March 6.

Those on or around the University of Pittsburgh's campus, and with an interest in Asian English as a Foreign Language [EFL] studies, might be interested in Rachel McTernan's March 6 presentation "A Critical Discourse Analysis of Li Yang's 'Crazy English': A Look at the English Movement in Mainland China". McTernan is an MA Candidate in East Asian Studies, and "Crazy English" is a variety of EFL education in China designed by Li Yang in which "students practice his technique by going behind buildings or on rooftops and shouting English" as an alternative to the rigidity of rote memorization and teaching-for-tests. It got some exposure around here during the Beijing Olympics; here's a bit of one of his gatherings:



Personally I've never been a fan of it as a serious educational tool. English is rendered ridiculous in a lot of Asian EFL contexts already, and encouraging students to shout it and divorce it further from reality only amplifies the gulf between English as a subject and English as a language. One of the shortcomings of conversation courses in many East Asian classrooms is the lack of authentic models: whether it's awkward textbook dialogues, or teachers overexaggerating cadence and pronunciation, or classes reciting single lines out of context. "Crazy English" does nothing to alleviate these three, and while it's amusing as a novelty act, I don't think it will ever gain much traction with serious students.

Ms. McTernan's presentation is at 2:00 pm, says the University Center for International Studies, in room 4217 of Posvar Hall (campus map).

Friday, March 1, 2013

In the Mood for Love at Erie Art Museum, March 6.

In the mood for love pittsburgh

Readers in and around Erie may want to see the iconic Hong Kong film In the Mood for Love on March 6 at the Erie Art Museum (map) as part of its weekly film series. The film starts at 7:00 and tickets can be purchased online for $5.

Free Korean class for intermediates to resume March 10.

The free intermediate-level Korean class, run by the Korean Language Study Group in Pittsburgh and usually held at the Carnegie Library in Squirrel Hill, has been on hiatus since December but will resume on Sunday, March 10. Class starts at 11:00 am and will be held at the Panera on the Boulevard of the Allies in Oakland (map). Those interested are asked to RSVP on the class's meetup.com page.

For an overview of other language courses in Pittsburgh, please check the "Learn" page.

Japanese Anthropology Workshop (JAWS) in Pittsburgh, March 7 - 9.

The 2013 Japanese Anthropology Workshop (JAWS) will take place at the University of Pittsburgh from March 7 through March 9. Few details and little information are available online, but the theme is "Mobility in Japan", and the website did say last year of Pittsburgh:
Pittsburgh is a great city with a lot of things to do, so it will be a fun place to hold the conference, and the University of Pittsburgh has a strong Japan focus.