Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Gripe Session

So, here’s the issue I’m dealing with right now. I started my extra classes today, and besides the annoying but peripheral problem of my increasingly sore throat (I mean, really, working with kids is bad enough for your health, the germy little bastards. But these Korean kids might very well be infected with some crazy Asian germs I’m not immune to, right? I mean, who knows what kinda death and destruction they might unintentionally be hurling my way. So, um, remind me not to accept any blankets here, even if they feel really nice.), there are a few things I need to sort out. OK, so I’m teaching the core English classes with a teacher named Mi Jin. She’s new at this, it’s her first year, but she’s good at what she does. The curriculum seems to be a little weak, but she works with what she’s got and her lessons are solid. And she’s already got them planned out, so all I really have to do is correct pronunciations, demonstrate the games with her, sing and dance occasionally. You know, like a bachelorette party stripper. Well, for the 10 NEW classes I’ve been assigned, she’s not there. I’m in the room with the kids and their usual teachers. Here are the problems I see with this, in (roughly) ascending order.

1) I haven’t taught (anything really, but especially) ESL in over 5 years.

2) I haven’t taught children… ever.

3) There are no lesson plans, or objectives, or goals, or anything to give me an idea of what I should be trying to teach them.

4) I don’t speak Korean.

5) The other teachers in the room with me don’t speak English.

6) Basically, what this means is that I don’t know what I’m doing, but even if I did know, I have no way of communicating it to my students because I’m the only one in the fucking room who has any idea what I’m saying!

So that’s what we’re dealing with here. Any suggestions? Emily, I’m lookin at you, kid.

OK, on the brighter side, I had a good weekend. Friday night, I met Jill in Icheon. It was a pretty tame night: dinner at a little kim bap place, got some beer, went to a DVD bang (remember, bang = room). Basically, you pay a little bit of money, and you get a little room in which to watch a DVD. There’s a couch, and a projection screen that fills up one wall, and that’s about it. It’s pretty awesome, I gotta say. And then we left, because I had to catch a bus and the last one leaves at like 9:30 pm, which sucks. But, whatcha gonna do, right? Saturday, I went with Boil and a few other teachers to Seoul for Dan’s birthday party. Dan was the foreign teacher I replaced at the elementary school. He’s a cool guy… British, but still basically cool. He invited us to his apartment, where his wife had made this amazing spread of food. Nachos, pasta, baked chicken, fish, little appetizers, fruits, salad, and a whole lotta beer. So, safe to say, I like Dan. After we ate, we went out (minus his wife, who stayed home with their baby girl) to a bar in Itaewon. Remember from last week, Itaewon = foreigners. He took us to an Irish pub, I had a black & tan and a Kilkenny, and life was good. Again, the bus situation kinda forces you into making decisions early; so, around 9, we all decided to come back instead of partying out in Seoul. Probably a good decision, in the long run. So, I caught the bus back, slept a bit, and you’re basically caught up to where we started. Sunday was remarkable in its uneventful-ness. I read, I ate, I had (terrible) coffee. That was my day in a nutshell, and then we come to the (admittedly small-scale) meltdown of this morning. The woodong I ate for dinner tonight made my throat feel better, but it’s not yet 7pm and I’m already dreaming of… well, dreaming. I think I’ll read for a bit and then crash. I know, I’m a ROCKSTAR!!! You were thinking it already, so why not confirm it?

Before I go, I have a request. There are a couple good English bookstores in Seoul, and if I go back this weekend, I’ll need to pick up a few books to keep me company. Anybody have any recommendations? I need something not too heavy, but not boring either. No Grisham, no Dan Brown, and nothing too new, because I really hate reading books in hardback. So, yeah, any help you could offer would be greatly appreciated. I finished “The Bourne Supremacy” last night, so I'll probably pick up the third one in that series; and I’m almost finished with “Genghis: Birth of an Empire,” which despite the title is complete fiction. Really good, and a definite page-turner. I like historical fiction. It gives me the impression of learning stuff. I like learning stuff, but it’s so dry sometimes. This is the best of both worlds, because really, if I start throwing random factoids about Genghis Khan into conversation, who’s gonna challenge me? For example, did you know that his name should actually be pronounced more like “Ching-gis Han?” Is he joking? Dammit! Now I have to Wikipedia freaking Genghis Khan or I’ll never be able to sleep tonight! Next I’ll have to start digging into referencical fiction. With lots of (fictional) footnotes and notes from the (fictional) translators describing why they’re using specific words to capture the essence of the (fictional) original texts. Yeah. What’s up now? That’s how I roll.


Anonymous said...

Sean! So, I haven't been reading the blog enough to really keep up, but I was thinking of you. Especially while watching UH get taken out to the woodshed by Rice last weekend (the score was closer than the game, sadly). And frankly, it sounds like your life is more interesting than mine at the moment. I took over Spotlight, our weekly entertainment section, about three weeks ago, so I'm still trying to figure out what the heck I'm doing and when I'm supposed to sleep, since my hours and days off are now completely different. OK, be well.


Riley Bear said...

Books you might consider.
Jay picked up The Alchemist, which mom is reading. Looks awesome!!!!!!!!! Big Time. Don't know the author. The protag is a dude who's lived for 800 years or something off this witches brew he's concocted, and guess what? He's got to save the world. Go figure.
2. World without end, by ken folet. Sequel to pillars of the earth.
3. twilight series....an easy read, but fun

Sean said...

awesome -- thanks adam. yeah, i've been meaning to get that follett book. i loved pillars of the earth. shan's reading the twilight series, and she's digging it too from what i can tell. the alchemist is an awesome book -- paolo coelho is the author. i had read that a couple years ago, and emily loaned me like 5 of his other books. i think the alchemist was still my favorite, but the others are interesting too. maybe i'll check out those twilight books. make several people happy all at once, cause i'm good like that.

emily said...

On Paulo Coelho, I always think the first will be your favorite. I loaned the 5th mountain to my roommate in Egypt at a hard time in her life and ended up leaving it with her because she liked it so much. After that you realize that they're mostly the same idea over and over again.
My personal favorite is the Valkyries followed closely by the Alchemist.