Can you say your name for me?
That’s the song we sing when new students come to learn their names.
So far so good this week. I haven’t been as prepared for classes as usual (though I doubt anyone would notice but me) this week because of the holiday last week. We had last Thursday off, and Thursday is the only day I get some good planning period time in. But things have been going just fine. Only two of the new students have come to stay and I am pretty pleased with their behavior and abilities for the time being. They’re two boys, and they’re only here for the summer months. A more permanent student is waiting to join us in a few weeks.
I had two other trial students come in but they aren’t permanent students yet. If their parents decide to let them in, they will join for the rest of the year, but I don’t know what’s going to happen yet. Neither of them understand any English nor can they read or write. The rest of the class is way beyond that, but I have to keep in mind that my whole class was at the same point only 3 months ago. If their parents don’t mind them floundering for a bit, they’ll catch up. It’s not up to me whether they come or not, so I’ll just make the most of whatever situation arises.
This week is super busy because of report cards, too. We have to write individual comments for all of the students we teach (around 50). Luckily I got started a couple of weeks ago, but that’s eating up all of my planning time at work too….
Lately I feel like I’ve got more free time at home, and yet I don’t feel like I’m accomplishing all the things I want to.
- learning Chinese characters (about 20 per week)
- reading 1984 in Korean
- learning new vocabulary (around 100 per week)
- studying math for the GRE
- translating articles for Ilda
- reading in English
The further you get down that list the less likely it is I’m doing it. I’m fantasizing about being a student again, only going to school a few hours a day and having a justification for reading and studying.
The week gets better and better. I just finished Thursday and I haven’t had a single energy drink all week, yet I’m not nearly as exhausted as last week!
My kids have impressed me with how quickly they are picking up new words and just following along with class routine. They are getting friendlier with each other and the atmosphere in my class is very positive and playful now. That’s how I like it. Today we had Show and Tell and two kids prepared something. I was surprised that they stood in front of the class alright, and one boy memorized a script and spoke very loudly and clearly. Way more than I expected! The other student brought cookies to share with everyone, so even though she didn’t speak much, she bribed everyone with sweets. A good tactic.
I taught our new montessori/geography class today which went over better than expected. My own class actually understood what I was talking about. I am really glad I understand Korean because I know when they’re on the right page, and I can teach them the corresponding English, and there’s little confusion. This year is going MUCH better than my first year when I was in the same situation. I think understand 99.9% of what’s said, which helps me not feel left out. And I think the kids trust me too since they can talk to me about important stuff.
I feel really good today, and I feel more determined than ever to make my class the best! I know it’s not a competition, but that’s how I get myself psyched up every year to stay a motivated and well-prepared teacher. I will do my best.
In other fantastic news, my first translation is available online now! Check it out:
Unraveling Memories Hidden for 25 Years <Ilda>
I have been reading this website called ILDA for a few weeks now. It’s a Korean feminism journal with a blog featuring all kinds of articles and news stories that are about women and written by women. There’s a section of the website that is all English translations, which you can check out here:
Anyway, I noticed they are asking for volunteer translators so I decided to shoot them an email. I was pretty honest about my abilities, so I was really skeptical that they’d write back positively, especially since they are looking for people with degrees in translation. But they wrote me back a really warm and welcoming email, and now I am officially doing translation work! It’s only going to be light at first, but I’m excited about the challenge, and the opportunity, and the experience. It’s one thing to read the articles and understand them, and it’s an entirely different challenge to translate that into sensible sentences that properly reflect the intended message.
I’m working on a series called “I Want to Throw Flowers”; it’s a 30-part-series written by a woman who experienced sexual violence when she was young. It’s been a real challenge translating the first article, but I know it will get easier as I go. And it feels like important work too, giving the author’s voice the chance to be read by a larger audience. After my first translation is available I will let you know. It will probably take a while, anyway.
I am really excited to have a reason to push myself, and also to be involved in something really worthwhile. I feel all tingly with excitement, that I’ve found something meaningful to do with my time outside of work.
Last Wednesday I went out with one of the Korean co-teachers to grab some dinner and coffee and do our first language exchange session. She revealed that she actually has no interest in studying English with me. She, like many other Koreans, is a bit modest about her ability and is embarrassed to speak. Even though we speak English to each other all day at work, she feels embarrassed or something. Anyway, I apologized profusely because I’ve basically talked her into being my free tutor/language exchange partner but she seemed genuinely curious and interested in helping me out.
I’ve had a lot of exchange partners who were helpful and great conversation, but now I can see the difference when having a teacher as your tutor. She knows what she’s doing! She helped me with pronunciation, pacing, corrected my sentence structure and took notes about the mistakes I made speaking and explained how to choose more natural words at the end of our conversation. She even gave me homework. AND she knows how to explain things about grammar of which I have a hard time understanding the subtle nuanced differences. She also spoke really slowly so that I could understand– at least I don’t feel mocked because we both speak that way all day when we’re dealing with the children.
It was a really nice time and I was really happy to speak to an experienced teacher about work-related issues as well.
In other news, it’s less than one month until I get to visit my sister and her husband in Okinawa!!!
Im had a good time this evening with one of the Korean co-teachers from my school. I asked her if she was interested in doing a language exchange on Wednesdays and she agreed but I get the feeling she isn’t actually interested in studying English. Instead we spent about 2.5 hours just speaking in Korean (about 90%) and she was SO helpful. She corrected my pronunciation, sentences, and took notes about what I can work on for next time. It was like attending a class. I am so grateful for her giving such helpful advice and her time and I feel bad that she’s not getting much in return. It was nice to get closer to someone I haven’t had much of a chance to talk to as well.