Tuesday, September 12, 2006

ehh post

Cow foot soup meal count: 9

I feel guilty a little guilty about it, but I'm definitely starting to have favorites at school. I like 3-2 (third grade...although Korean elementary schoolers are younger than American ones, so it's more like a youngish 2nd grade) and 5-2 (fifth grade) better than any of my other classes. Part of my bias towards 3-2 is because Kiyeong is in it, and he is absolutely my favorite person in Korea. For some reason, the other teachers at my school say he is a "bad" child and that none of them like him. I just can't believe it...he is honestly one of the sweetest, most appealing children I have ever come across. The teachers all warned me about 3-2 and said that it's the school's 'problem class' and that I shouldn't bother to try to hard with the kids, as they are too stupid to learn much English. I absolutely can't understand this--yes, their English is awful...but the whole school's English is awful, and they seem to be learning as quickly as their "smarter" peers in 3-1. I think I mainly like them better than 3-1 in response to this strange prejudice against them. 5-2 is definitely my most earnest and enthusiastic class. They all throw themselves into every single one of my activities (all the 6th grade classes and other 5th grade classes have at least a few students who are too cool for me and affect the rest of the class), and even the requisite loud boys in the back of the room are just loud in a participatory way instead of a misbehaving one (they shout out answers, jump out of their chairs to be called on, and beg me urgently for "han bon do!" or "one more time," at the end of every game).

I also have a fan club of 4th grade girls. They are waiting outside my music room "office" in the morning, and spend all their free time in my room (either trying to talk to me, just watching me do stuff, playing with my things, or playing me songs on the musical instruments in the room). They bring me candy, juice, and pastries, make me little clay animals in art class, and draw pictures for me on my blackboard. They also like to take me by the hands and arms and lead me, en masse, to each of my classes. They don't like to share me, so they often try and drive other students out of my room. This isn't really possible though, because my room has two giant sliding doors and students are ALWAYS coming in and out of them. They mostly just come in to say hello (for most of them, the only English they can reliably come up with) and gawk at me.

I would say that overall, teaching is definitely going really well. I love the kids and they seem to like my lessons. Sometimes, when I think of how they can really communicate with their schools and students, only plan 1 or 2 lesson plans a week, and get days off for exams and practice exams, I get jealous of the secondary ETAs and wish I had stayed in the secondary program...but when I really think about it, I feel so glad and lucky to be working with the little ones. They are so loving, responsive, and just rewarding to work with. Kiyeong and Kibeom can both remember and understand the things I've taught their classes, which makes me feel good, since they can't remember or understand the English they're learning at hagwon. Most of the teachers seem to like me as well, and are wicked impressed by my games (since English has only been in elementary school curriculums for about 10 years, many of the teachers didn't learn how to teach it when they got certified and are really freaked out by it. Also, most of the teachers in the school are barely better than the kids), although a few of the oldest ones are just really uncomfortable with me. I HATE teaching the teachers. It is the worst. Any tips on teaching them (especially from Nunk, as he is wise and experienced in adult ed) would be really, really great.

My host mom just got home. She always asks what time I got back from school...if I say 4:30 or earlier, she will say, "Oh! You are hungry!" and if I say later, she says, "Ah! You are not hungry!" (in Korean, obv). Since lunch is the only food I eat at school, and is at 12:30 regardless of when I get done in the afternoon, I have no idea what her logic is. But, if I am lucky enough to have gotten home before 4:30, I get a premium snack (I can't lie about it, because the boys always verify my homecoming times). Yesterday the boys and I had "hot dogs," which is what Koreans call corn dogs (although I think they are a little different from corn dogs--they have two layers of doughy coating, one of which is usually about three inches thick. Sometimes they are salty and have ketchup, and sometimes--like yesterday--they are rolled in sugar), and this drink they refer to as milk but is gray and has black crumbly stuff floating in it. It tastes like milk with crushed up Oreos in it, but slightly chalky. Preem.

Ew. Just now I was handed 3 dryish rolls with a layer of "jam" in the middle. The jam is a mixture of actual jam and barbecue sauce...seriously. There is also a strange flavor that reminds me really strongly of lanolin. Much less preem.

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