I survived the first week of school! It was a bit touch and go at the start, but thanks be to God for helping me through it. I have four 6th grade ESL students (though one is on a family trip and won’t be in class until the 6th or so… ) and nine seniors for a senior seminar that is attempting to get them ready for American universities. [Before I posted this, another week of school had passed – the school open house and lesson planning took a lot more time than I thought they would.]
The ESL kids are fun – though when I give them a quiz or homework they don’t like, at least one of them says, “Teacher, no.” And I had to make all of the extra thumbtacks disappear because one of the two boys was poking the bulletin board repeatedly with them. That student also likes to lean back in his chair, though after he fell over backwards while doing so, he’s more open to my reminders to keep the chair on the floor! Devotions in the morning are hard – even with my adapting the text for their level, they still look like deer in the headlights. They’re good at math – the first four chapters of their math book breezed by this week (in part because they knew it and also because they didn’t have their matchbooks yet) – their only trouble is the English math vocabulary. I’ve been having them writing every day and on Friday we had a debate on “Are girls better than boys?” – this topic got them talking a lot in English, which was a blessing.
The seniors have been working on resumes – their final draft is due on Tuesday. And once that is done, we’ll do a reflective essay and hopefully I’ll have more to ramble about for them. It is and isn’t a blessing to not have a textbook. Continue reading →
I look forward to the day I break the language barrier. But unlike Chuck Yeager and the sound barrier (hmm… Chuck Yeager and the Sonic Booms sounds like it would make a cool band name…), there is no specific target to surpass. Fluency is a hard thing to measure and one need not be fluent to be able to read heating controls or tell the landlady about the unexpected wading pool in your living room. This particular adventure of water hot and cold started with the switch to a new apartment.
On the day my wife and I moved in to our new apartment in South Korea, we received not only internet access, but a new washing machine and a new stove. We soon discovered, however, that we could not get the stove to ignite (it was a two-burner, self-igniting gas stove). And no matter how far we turned the handle to the hot side, the shower only poured out cold water. Unfortunately for us, the person who had been assisting us was swamped with office work at the school, so he wasn’t able to get around to helping us. We spent a week taking “brisk and refreshing” showers and heating up instant rice in the microwave.
Last night, the School Director took the school staff out to eat at a nice restaurant and afterwards I decided to head to noraebang (Korean for karaoke) with some of my fellow teachers. Eruanna decided to head back to our apartment. I had a lot of fun, especially since the place supplied tambourines in the room we rented. Unlike in America, where you get up in front of a bunch of strangers and make a fool of yourself, in Korea (and in Japan, I’ve heard) you rent a room with a bunch of people you know and make a fool of yourself with them. There were plenty of English songs to sing, though some of the Korean teachers did sing one K-pop song (lyrics were in Korean, so I only sort of got the sounds). There were live-action and cartoon videos playing behind the lyrics and I had a hard time telling if it was random or selected for each song. I nearly lost my voice on Bohemian Rhapsody… ^^ Continue reading →
I’ve almost been in Korea for a week now and I’m still not one hundred percent sure of what exactly I’m going to be teaching. I’m getting closer to knowing, but it’s hard to say without having the textbooks in my paws. I do know that four of the classes will involve TESOL and the fifth will most likely be a senior seminar geared towards preparing them for American universities. At least I now have a room. There was only so much I could do during the prep. parts of orientation without a room to prepare or textbooks to lesson plan from. Lord willing, the textbooks will be there tomorrow. With school starting on the 29th, I sort of need the textbooks to plan. So that is my current main quest.
As for my sidequest… While in Seoul on Saturday I encountered many groups of police officers in riot gear and surreptitiously snapped the following photo. One of my fellow teachers tried to get some officers to explain what was going on, but they didn’t really speak English and eventually one of them made an “x” with his arms and said, “Secret.” We happened to be in view of a platoon of officers and all of them turned their heads and looked right at us. Then one of them came over and asked us if we needed any help. We explained that, no, we didn’t need help, but we were curious as to what was going on. The officer tried to explain, but repeatedly said, “It’s hard to explain” and mentioned something about it being cultural. My fellow teacher guesses it is probably some sort of training or drill. Continue reading →