Oh Yea, We Teach Too...

I was running a little low on the ideas for this blog, when it dawned on me. I've been in this country now for I think a little over 5 months and have not once talked about the act of teaching itself, and its the whole reason (or excuse) for coming here.

However, maybe having a bit of perspective on it all makes it better. If I had posted my original thoughts in my first month of teaching, it would have been pretty negative. I also had absolutely no idea what I was doing.

I have a pretty decent schedule, MWF 10-7 with some decent breaks in there, and then TT from 10-12:40 and 3:20-5. The most draining part of the day are my IP classes (Intensive Preschool) as I have 2 in the morning. I'm the reigning queen of the 6 year olds (5 western age), and I am bound and determined to mold them into my own little personal army. So far so good, as two of them were taken away from my class this month and now scream my name anytime I'm in their line of vision and come running with hugs. It also breaks my heart to see any of them cry, which is an effect I did NOT expect to happen prior to coming here (if you knew me, I really wasn't a fan of children in the least).

We foreigners head to a little gimbap shop we lovingly call Sharon's for our 40 minute lunch break everyday to enjoy some hearty and cheap Korean food to refuel before heading back to teach various activities to the little kiddies. If you're lucky enough not to do this like me, you get some free time to do some lesson planning or worksheet making. Which, I have now gotten into the art of lesson planning on one day for an entire month, therefore actually limiting the amount of work I have to do.

The afternoon classes are the kindergarten/elementary school kids that come after they've finished their regular school. Korean children can attend like 6 schools in a week between Elementary School, English School, Music School, Math School, and whatever else their parents decide to send them to. I will be at my gym at 9pm and see kids in some sort of class studying right across the street at some random school. I have no idea how they do it.

Teaching basically involves no thought. I let the kids entertain me, and in return I try and fix their broken English. Some of them want to learn, and some don't, but it really isn't a bad way to spend a work week. The problem is constantly being creative, which can be a chore. I always think back to the boring classes I had as a child and try and liven it up, but sometimes you just can't. How does one make learning English grammar fun in a class of 1 or 2 kids? Lots of general conversation I suppose. And of course, the classes where the kids speak absolutely NO English is very tough as well. Basically you become a walking thesaurus trying to find any English word that they will understand for the concept you're trying to convey. It's a lot of, "What is it? It is a pencil. What is it? It is an eraser" for weeks on end. It's always a work in progress, and the whole year is definitely a learning curve.

All in all I get paid to do this. And if you have no idea what you wanna do with your life like I do at this current moment, you might as well get some entertainment out of something for the time being. Would it help if I knew Korean? Sure. But not knowing enables me to make funny faces at them when they talk and that makes them laugh. And they're so impressed when I bust out a Korean word or two. Can't really complain about that, now can I?


*(this post will mark the beginning of the 'Carefree Korea' label, which follows Young Korea and Intermediate Korea. It will be a period of roughly 6 months of knowing the country and having fun, but without making any big life decisions)*
Jenn PeddeCarefree Korea