Thursday, May 20, 2010

Long Weekend

Tomorrow is Buddha's Birthday, so Yoon's will be closed.  I am looking forward to this long weekend, though not for any particular reason.  I just need some rest after this week.  I definitely have it better than Ian did (less Julia, less stress), but the schedule leaves a lot to be desired.  Five minutes between classes hardly leaves enough time to wipe down the board, let alone catch my metaphorical breath.

We don't have any specific plans, yet, but there are several things that we need to accomplish:  pay bills, begin the booking process for our South East Asia trip, do a little cleaning, get haircuts, etc.  We may go hiking on Sunday.  There are supposed to be a couple of good places around here.

Today has been a decent day.  I spent about an hour before classes just chatting with the other teachers (Angela, Sue, and Rahee/ Aileen [Julia made her choose an English name even though her real name is very universal]). It was really nice.  

Then I had four classes in a row, three of them pretty boisterous.  The second class, "Basic B27," was especially difficult.  Ian warned me ahead of time.  He gave me the names of three boys who disrupted class and disrespected him every week.  It didn't matter how he disciplined them, they'd find a way to continue being pains.  They were impossible to embarrass and showed no remorse.  They were trouble right off the bat, loud and obnoxious.  I couldn't get them to be quiet, so I used it to my advantage.  I put the students to work calling out sentences using the grammar and vocabulary ("Let's go to the _____.  Let's _____!") that they had been learning.  It worked very well.  Then, I divided them into groups and had them play a rock, paper, scissors card game, where each card had a picture of a place on it.  I didn't split them up because I figured one bad group was better than two and these guys were proving to be toxic.  It took me nearly five minutes to get them to play the game correctly (luckily the other group had a handle on it), but every time I'd check on the other group, they'd start buggering around again.  Then they managed to tear one of my cards in half.  That's not really a big deal, but I had had enough.  So, I calmly took all their cards away and made them put their heads down on their desk in silence while the other group laughed and played properly.  If they weren't going to be productive, then they were going to sit there and be bored.  They were a little better for the rest of the class, so I'm hoping I started out on the right foot.  I'm not going to kid myself and say that my one act of discipline solved the problem.  I'll be thinking of creative discipline solutions for next week.

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My last two classes went pretty well.  The 7:15 class is a Phonics (lowest level) class filled with 11 year olds.  I wonder if the older kids that test at lower levels (or simply didn't start learning English at four like their peers) get teased by other kids that are the same age, but in higher class levels.  I had to work them through my/your/his/her and it was more difficult for them than it should have been.  Again I was disappointed by their lack of foundation.

The 8 o'clock class was a fluent class that has been working on the subjunctive (meaning: how one communicates that something is not certain or based in reality [would/could/should/may/might]).  English has very little subjunctive, but these kids weren't introduced to it very well.  Instead of learning what it means and doesn't mean, they were only shown phrases like, "I would like a hamburger." and "Could you help me?"  Not exactly concrete examples of what the phrasing actually means.  So, I walked them through simple examples sentences and then I moved them to "if" clauses.  That proved to be very tricky.  I hope I get to review it next week, because the class ended just as the kids started to understand it enough to have fun, "What would you do if you had superpowers?"

Ian met me at Goam after work and we went to Lotte Mart.  Our cab driver home was completely awesome.  He asked, "Where to, ma'am?" and then he told Ian he was beautiful and asked how old we are.  We asked him how old he was (completely acceptable in Korean culture) and he told us 60.  The man didn't look a day over 43.  He encouraged us to marvel at his youthful face and told us he was a grandfather.  It's times like that when I wish you could tip in Korea.

We bought some doenjang (thick fermented soybean paste akin to Japan's miso).  So, tomorrow we will make doenjang jjigae (think miso soup, only healthier because doenjang holds its nutrients after boiling, while miso doesn't).  I'll be taking pictures step by step and posting the recipe.  You can probably buy the paste at any good Asian market.

Good night!

1 comment:

  1. I am so happy that your days are better than you expected. Granted your expectations were not great, and rightfully so. How is Ian doing with your old students?
    Glad you get a 3-day weekend. Sounds like you are just going to take it as it comes for the most part. I am so excited to hear about your SE Asia trip. Can't wait to hear all the details.

    I am so jealous, you are going to make doenjang jjigae. That was the "monk" stew we at on Jeju right? That was so delicious. I have to get to a Asian market to get some doenjang. I read the wikipedia attachment, I am so excited on how healthy it is. Must get some soon. Can't wait to see the photos and get the recipe.

    Your cab experience was heart warming. What a awesome gentleman. I wish I could come back to Korea right now, I would look at it through different eyes. I would embrace the culture, yes even the lack of personal space, I would step outside my comfort zone much more. I guess you must gain some wisdom about each place you travel to after you come home and have time to reflect on and absorb your experiences. I still have to pinch myself everyday and ask was I really there? This is why I will continue to travel to far away places, and hopefully re-visit the ones I have been to and fallen in love with before.