Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Some things....

Korea is truly an amalgam...yesterday i stood around a table in the office at work and ate food with the principal and vice and a few other teachers. None of them spoke English but the vice-principal insisted on making polite conversation - in Korean, which i don't speak. Eventually we concluded that he was older than my father, and then he tried to feed me.
Tis voting season over here in Gwangju and what do you think that means? Speeches about the things promised if elected? Not exactly, instead intersections are filled with the sounds of loud music blaring from trucks whilst women dressed in the colours of the campaigner endlessly do a little dance to the passing traffic. Occasionally the campaigner himself is there and he waves and bows to the people in their cars while displaying which number he is so that you know what to write down on voting day.
And my favorite thing in Korea is without a doubt the young kids. Everywhere you look there a tiny little things wandering along, their black hair sticking up in tufts and their dark eyes gleaming with curiosity about the strange looking person who smiles at them. You know that South Korea is a safe place when you see 3 tiny children, who cannot be older than 4, waddling along holding hands - with no adult in sight. Pictures of this adorable phenomenon will eventually follow.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Languagey Barriers-u

So a little while ago i switched from teaching 3rd year middle schoolers to 2nd years - not a huge change really, just fewer lewd remarks (its amazing how gutterised their minds get in such a short space of time). My first class was the usual introductions - my name is Lolly, can anyone guess where i come from?No not Canada, or America, or Australia, or China, or France, or England (at some point i think they just start naming countries just for fun). I actually come from South Africa....and so on and so on.Not a huge amount of lesson preparation needed there.

My next class i planned a lesson on rule-making - what are rules, why do we have them, name some rules for baseball, rules you have at home etc, with the eventual intent of making our own classroom rules. Now i'd made a lovely ppt presentation - from scratch and in order to show it I had to ask my male co-teacher to please bring his laptop to class. Once it was hooked up to the screen in the class i plugged in my flashstick and clicked on my ppt and nothing. It turns out our microsoft versions were incompatible which meant no lesson on rules. I explained this to my co-teacher a number of times, looking very disappointed and so on and he nodded his head and mumbled something that i thought was agreement, or commiseration. I then very successfully played a game with my students which involved them using a fair amount of English.

Later standing in the lunch line, my co-teacher turns to me and tells me he is worried about my teaching. oh dear i think, am i not a good teacher? He continues saying that i need to plan lessons and that it is not the Korean way to show up to class unprepared. I smile and say, no no i did prepare our microsoft versions were just different. He gives me a serious look and says our last teacher was most excellent, he was always prepared. He is very worried about my teaching, its not good. He then turns to the other teachers and says something in Korean, the only part of which i understand is my name. i receive mixed looks of pity and dismay. So feeling dejected i sit and eat my lunch and then return to my office.

In walks my co-teacher again to repeat all my failings, adding that it is unprofessional and unacceptable. I once again attempt to explain that i am not a human failure and i am aware that one does not show up to class unprepared - microsoft, incompatible, not work, did have a lesson all leave my lips once again, all met with a blank stare once again. So i show him my nicely prepared lesson and a look of understanding dawns on his face, he offers a wee apology before hastily departing. I feel distinctly better about myself.

The following day we teach together again, and by then i have downloaded a microsoft converter and my ppt works. The lesson goes well and the students participate, and they understand and the timing is great and so on. As my co-teacher and i leave the classroom he says - oh that was a good lesson, very good... Did your boyfriend do it for you? I calmly told him no that I had in fact rubbed my 2 female brain cells together and achieved this wonder of teaching all on my own, thank you.

Clearly he has not caught on to men and women are equal...perhaps my next lesson will be on gender equality, and if it goes badly i will innocently murmur ' oh, but my boyfriend planned it for me'.