Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Collection of Thoughts and Some Recap

Today was a pretty average day.  The classes went by pretty quickly, as they tend to do.  Everyday my understanding of how poorly organized Yoon's is grows.  Mainly, the students in my classes are not at the same level.  So, inevitably, I leave a few students behind by playing to the more advanced students, or I bore the advanced students to death while I spoon feed the ones who are behind.  Finding a middle ground in ESL is very difficult.  If a student simply does not understand you, you either spend precious time helping him or you leave him behind and move on with the rest of the class.  Many of these students are too shy to admit they need help, which complicates the matter.  I spend more time in class keeping track of the student's than I'd like.  Julia's lesson plans have a tendency to widen the gap, as well.  I find that the class is either completely underwhelmed by the activity (in which case they begin to goof off) or it goes right over their heads and I am left explaining away my fifteen minutes.
I know that it will get better, especially as time passes and Julia lets go of us a bit.  She didn't come to work today.  No one said anything to me about it, so I'm not sure why.  Tina and I narrowed down our movie time for this weekend during my break (Tuesday is the only day of the week that I get a "lunch break").  It felt good to do something so normal.  We talked about what we wanted to see and then she jumped on the computer and looked up showtimes.  She wants to see G.I. Joe (and so does Ian), so I obliged.  We're going on Sunday at 4:30.  I thought it'd be nice to really sleep in if we wanted since we're being picked up at 9:30 on Saturday.  We're going to give Kim and her husband a small gift for being so nice (gift thank you's are seen as a show of friendship and goodwill in Korea), but we haven't decided on what yet.  Maybe pastries or candies.
I did a little research on the polite way to give and receive items.  When handing something over, or giving a handshake, it is polite to either hold the item in two hands or to hold it with your right hand and to place your left hand where your right forearm meets your elbow.  Never use just your left hand alone.  There is some speculation that this tradition comes from the length of the sleeves on traditional formal wear.  Also, many of these traditions are only upheld partially or part of the time.  Westernization of the culture has removed some of the emphasis on politeness.
Random:  today, my hagwon (Sinback) smelled like urine for a couple of hours.  It obviously came from outside, but I'm not sure why it happened, exactly.  I didn't want to be rude or seem accusatory by asking such an awkward question as "Hey, do you know why it smells like a public toilet all the sudden?"
I'm trying to get at least one of my classes to explain to me how they choose their English names.  So far, no one's English skills are good enough to do so (remember, some of my students are supposed to be "fluent").  I've had a girl named Isaac and Ian had a boy named Wendy today, so I'm curious where the names come from.  I wish that we had our students more than once a week.  It's difficult to bond with the students in such little time.  Though, to be honest, I'm not sure that Yoon's understands the importance of that.
Well, tomorrow I am back at Ha So.  Wish me luck with the bus system!


  1. Luck!
    That is really hysterical about the names. Wendy? Really? Maybe the kid really likes Peter Pan, but cannot vocalize it?

  2. Ian mentioned Peter Pan and the kids just stared at him blankly. So, I don't know if that story has a Korean name, or what...? :)

  3. So..will GI Joe be dubbed in Korean? Or just have Korean sub-titles? You'll have to let us know. Glad you're making friends.

    Isaac and Wendy, LOL. I do hope you can find out the story behind those names.