Friday, March 16, 2012

Another Semester, Another Day, Another Americano

I am two weeks into the new semester and it has come with some unique challenges as well as some really fun opportunities. I am teaching four D level classes, the lowest level of learners. Some of the students have a loose grasp on Korean, let alone any kind of command of English. This makes my job a little difficult, teaching English as a foreign language to low level learners. However, after spending two weeks with them, they have quickly become some of my favorite classes to teach. Let me explain.

The first week was a challenge. I knew that conventional teaching methods and lesson planning would not work for this class (Mr. Bean to the rescue!) and I had to come up with a way to teach varying degrees of low levels in the same class without isolating some kids or boring others. The first week I was terrified, especially since I taught the first class completely alone! Despite the low level of English, the students have a natural curiosity about me and a genuine sweetness that makes teaching them a pleasure. They do not talk and they try their damndest, which I absolutely cannot say about many of my higher level classes.

I have come to realize that these students are not trying because they want or even need to speak English but because they want a chance to succeed. It would be presumptuous of me to assume that they seek my approval. Instead, it seems to me they are seeking the feeling of success, of being told that they did a good job, that they completed a language task, no matter how basic it may seem to a higher level learner, with confidence and pride.

My second week in the classroom, I wrote at the top of my daily calendar "today is a day I can actually make a difference by teaching English". I cannot tell you the confidence boost that gave me which was obviously reflected by the students. I now look forward to those classes; not only do the students want to be there, but I do too. That makes a huge difference.

I am also leading an English club of extremely bright students, nine all said and done. They are very enthusiastic about learning English and picking my brain for any snippet of culture they can. They're a blast. Today, I showed them a Korean subtitled version of Abbot and Costello's "Who's On First" routine, which they loved.

One of my students brushed off the clip before I had a chance to play it, saying, "it looks so old." I told him to wait and give it a chance. The clip was eliciting belly-laughs from otherwise jaded high school boys.

We meet every other Friday for about two hours in the afternoon.

Otherwise, my B and C classes are causing me a lot of stress. How Dae Chang got its reputation for being a respectable school in general is beyond me. I find new students this year to be aggrivating and disrespectful, far beyond even the worst headaches my students gave me last year. Every incoming year gets worse and worse. There is a lot of politics behind it and my blog is an inappropriate place to speculate on them.

In other news, I pre-ordered an iPad 3 which should be arriving at my Dad's work in less that 24 hour, according to FedEx. Pretty excited about that.