Published: November 27th 2011November 27th 2011
After the stress of having to learn a completely new job very quickly last week, this week has been a lot more relaxed. I spent a few hours on Monday evening preparing for the rest of the week, which meant I could concentrate more on teaching than on frantically printing out worksheets and working out what I should be doing! So it's been a good week, I'm feeling a lot more comfortable with the job now I know how things work a bit more. The only problem I've had this week is with kids crying. I had 5 cry on me in one day. Just stupid things like someone taps another kid on the arm and they burst into tears, and then the first one starts crying because they've upset the other kid. I have to remind myself sometimes they are just young kids after all! I find the best way to deal with crying kids (as long as it's nothing serious) is to tell them they can join in when they want and then just ignore them - seems to work quite well, they usually join in after having a 5 minute tantrum.
The baby class is getting a
lot better too, I decided to teach them 'Head, shoulders, knees and toes', and they love doing all the actions so I think I'll keep doing things like that - it holds their attention a bit longer! And then I just let them play at the end, so it's not too bad now. The class seems to be getting bigger by the week though, I had two new kids join it this week. Each kid is given an English name when they join the school, and I was allowed to choose the name as he was in my class. I went for 'Alex' - I'm going to try and get a whole class named after my old housemates! The other teachers seemed to like the name though, apparently there is a famous Korean entertainer called 'Alex' and every woman in Korea loves him. The other new kid is actually Spanish - his father is a pilot and has moved his family over here. I'm really interested to see how the cultures all merge - a Spanish boy learning English in a Korean school. He has settled in really well though and doesn't seem fazed by anything - he repeats any
word he hears, so he's running around speaking Korean, English and Spanish (although I'm not sure he is able to distinguish between the languages yet!).
We went on a school trip this week to see the play 'Peter and the Wolf' which was fun. It was all in Korean though, which was good as it helps me learn the language a bit as well - it's easier to pick up bits of language like that, I must be a visual learner or something! Me and Chris were also asked last minute to take an assembly - luckily Chris is good at thinking on his feet and grabbed a couple of songbooks. So I ended up on the stage trying to sing along to a song I didn't know, making up actions as I went along. It's weird, at home I would dread doing something like that, but here I don't really care - I guess being in a different culture really opens you up to giving things a go that you wouldn't normally do!
So here's some other things that have been making me laugh in school this week: Kids getting too excited
I've yet to
have any kids wet themselves in a lesson yet, touch wood. One day this week one of Chris's students was so excited that he finished his work, he started to jump around the room and managed to lose control of his bladder. Not really something I want to have to deal with! Kids with perms
Some of the parents like their children to have perms (and most of them boys!). Seeing a 3 year old boy with a perm is quite amusing - I don't have a huge knowledge of how to perm hair but isn't some big machine involved that you put on your head? And tin foil maybe? But the thought of them in a hairdressers getting that done makes me laugh. A couple of kids that usually have normal hair came in with perms this week too, I really had to hold myself back from saying anything! Help me teacher!
When the kids get stuck they are in the habit of shouting out 'Help me, help me'. It's at its worst in science class, especially if it's a tricky experiment. I feel like a medic on a battlefield sometimes, screams of 'help me,
help me' coming from every corner of the room! Workbook faux pas
In general the English in the workbooks is pretty good, but occasionally they make a bad faux pas. Like this week the children had to circle the right word in this sentence: 'Do you know/knob the boy?'. Childish I know, but you try not to laugh when you have a class full of kids innocently shouting 'Do you knob the boy'!
So I decided that this weekend I would be a tourist and go exploring the area a bit more. On Saturday I decided to check out the local(ish) beach called Dadaepo, and see whether it might be somewhere I could potentially surf in the future. I love the people you meet when you go on little adventures like this. As soon as I sat down on the bus, the old man behind me tapped me on the shoulder and started chatting to me about how he was a minister and was on his way to take a wedding. Thing was, it was a wedding between an American man and Korean girl, so he had written the service in English, and wanted me to check
over it. So I spent my bus journey sorting his sermon out for him - I told him it was perfect, but to make sure he didn't forget the Western tradition of the minister kissing the bride...
Anyway, so I get down to the beach, looks no good for surfing though as it's kind of in an estuary. I had a little wander round anyway and started chatting to a couple of old fishermen (when I say chatting I mean the usual sign language), and they invited me to come and drink the local rice wine, Soju, with them. I'm not sure whether to put this down as a cultural experience, or whether it's just the equivalent of hanging out with a couple of tramps down in Swansea Bay drinking Special Brew? I'll give it the benefit of the doubt and call it a cultural experience I think. It's interesting trying to work out what things are part of the culture here, and what things even Korean people find strange. I guess I'd define different culture as something I find weird but the locals see as normal. As someone new to the country, the line between culture and what
is just plain weird can be quite blurred - for example I have seen a lot of dogs wearing shoes and hoodies. Culture or just weird? I guess the longer I stay here the more defined that line will get!
There is a peninsula you can walk round in Dadaepo which was just stunning. Every time you thought the view couldn't get any better, you'd turn the corner and be confronted with something even more breathtaking. Unfortunately I turned one corner only to find someone scattering ashes off the cliff with an unfavourable wind blowing, leaving me with a mouthful of it. Im hoping my Korean may improve a bit as a result, but so far I don't think it's worked.
Today I went to an island to the west of Busan called Geoje-do. One of the Korean teachers at the school kindly offered to take me when she heard I was planning to cycle there. Glad she did as I would not be writing this right now if I had cycled, it was miles away. To get there you have to go across this huge system of bridges and tunnels which just go on forever. We had
some pretty amazing sushi for lunch (starting to quite like the stuff!) at a place called Windy Hill, where there is a huge Dutch-style windmill of all things - not exactly what you expect to see here! The highlight for me though was a boat trip across to Oedo island, which has an incredible botanical garden. I'm not really into gardens or anything, but this place was pretty special. There are so many islands round here the view is really quite spectacular.
Anyway, that's enough for this week. I've added another 'Konglish' photo, maybe I'll do a 'Konglish Weekly' thing, there's plenty of good ones around!
Hope you're all doing well!
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