As you get older, birthdays get...complicated. It used to be so easy. Cake and candles, invite your friends over, a pile of presents, rinse, repeat. But now that I'm older, it's more of an annoying obligation that anything else at times. It feels as if I'm expected to have a party, expected to go out, when often all I want to do is stay home with a pizza.
During a 1st year class:
"Teacher! I'm shaking my sausage every day!"
"Me too teacher! I'm very long sausage!"
Someone had taught them the term "johnson" as well, so there were plenty such jokes as well. Another boy came up to me to ask "Teacher, what is 'Johnson'?" I managed to choke out, while trying to hide my laughter "It's...a boy has..."
"Ah, okay okay. Thank you teacher."
I accidentally wore burgundy tights and a red coat and an orangey scarf today, so the comments about my color choices were common. The best, though, happened during my last class of the day today.
My students are constantly saying either hilarious or amazing things, so I'm going to start posting highlights here on a weekly basis. This week was...quite the week.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: my most advanced first year high school students singing a revised version of the Cup Song from Pitch Perfect! Enjoy!
The traditional gift for a first anniversary is paper, so I guess after I write this I'll print a copy and frame it. What I'm trying to say is, a little over one year ago, I arrived in Korea. The modern first anniversary gift is a clock, which seems apt as the time has passed faster than I realized. A year already? Are you sure?
I've been looking back through old posts, and it's a relief to see that my feelings about the country haven't changed that much:
Let’s be real about this whole teaching gig. If you’re a teacher in the ESL world, chances are you’re probably in the same boat as me, and I’m no different than the thousands of other ESL teachers doing their thing abroad as I write this.
We are generally not at the same level as the native teacher at the school to which we’re assigned. There, I said it.
I want to stress “generally” because there are certain circumstances where an ESL instructor is, indeed, the ruler of his or her classroom kingdom. Universities, international and private schools, and probably some others may call for the ESL instructor to hold total responsibility for their classroom and students. Not to mention the administrative tasks that go along with the role.
My students, and I think most language students, struggle with the desire to be perfect. Often, when I ask my older students a simple question that I know they understand, I'm still met with...silence. Averted eyes. Maybe if we don't move she can't see us.
I recently realized that I am a complete hypocrite. Well, in all honesty I've known this for a while, especially when it comes to giving advice, but I had the fact practically thrown in my face the other night. As a teacher of a foreign language, I'm constantly trying to stress communication over perfection. By which I mean, it is more important that you can talk to someone, get your point across, even if your grammar is barely grammar and you're speaking mainly in nouns and hand gestures. Were you able to buy the coffee you wanted? Did they answer your question? Laugh at your joke? A+
I love beginnings. First day of the new year, first day of school, first month in a new apartment. There's this sense of possibility, this sense that now you can finally do all those things you meant to do. You can change the things you meant to change, get going in a different direction. I have a really bad habit of getting...lazy toward the end of something. If I'll be moving in a month or two, I have no motivation to organize my apartment. If the semester is about to end, I have no motivation to rearrange my classroom or find more interesting lessons. I know it's a terrible way to feel, but alas, I'm stuck in the brain I'm in.
Now, the name camp is a bit misleading. Before I started teaching I always thought of camp, especially summer camp, as a place where you go for a week or longer and stay overnight and whatnot. In the Korean school system, though, it's just a name for extra classes in various subjects. Cooking camp, guitar camp, English camp, science camp, you name it. Some camps go on for most of the vacation, while some are only a few days long.
One of the hallmarks of teaching English in Korea is the often dreaded summer and winter "English Camp". What is an English Camp, you ask? In it's most basic form, a camp is a combination of daycare and conversation club. It's like English class minus any serious studying. If you plan it right, it's actually really fun.
We were playing a game in teams, where each team had a mixed up sentence on strips of paper to rearrange into a correct sentence. First 3 teams to finish got points, so the pressure was really on. However, it's really hard to keep track of which team raises their hand first, so...things get a bit silly.
For instance, in the third round, team 4 was convinced, and I mean CONVINCED that they had been the second team to finish. As I'm scanning the crowd, consulting with my coteacher, I suddenly hear the piercing cry of a middle school student in the wild.
"언니!! Unnie! Unnieeeeeee!"
There's all sorts of classes, but my favorites are the ones who share my dumb sense of humor, the ones I can laugh and joke with. A great example happened just recently, in my 2nd period 2nd grade class.
Living abroad, and more specifically teaching English in South Korea is all about expansion and improvement. That is, if you want it to be. One thing is for sure for every person who travels abroad to teach ESL in a foreign country – you’re going to learn about acculturation and it’s 4 stages. You’ve likely heard of them before, but never associated them with a big, fancy term like ACCULTURATION!