The plague, role reversal and accents.

Well, guess who's sick again.

I keep thinking this all goes back to that annihilating version of the plague I had back in April, when I was fine one day and woke up the next in need of a shot in the ass and 8 rounds of steroids, somehow. Every time it feels like a milder version of that. Or maybe it's just a result of China's little love clouds drifting over every other day. Or maybe Mr. Kwan is right and I need to wear proper clothing for the weather.

It's a funny vibe in the office this week. Some serious role reversal going on. Three half days of exams for the boys, and no classes for anyone. After this week, it's all one downhill roll to the end of the year, and the Korean teachers are basically living it up. Pastries, oranges and koepi for everyone! Except me.

I worked my ass off today. In three weeks, I will have two weeks of winter English camp, while all the other teachers are on a super long paid vacation. One of the few times of year when it sucks to be me. Anyway, I did the math, and although they are right -- technically I'm not going over my contracted teaching hours for those weeks -- I'll be doing 7 and a half months' worth of my usual lesson planning in three weeks' time. Whereas I normally need two 45 minute lessons a week, during the camp I will be teaching two 2-hour classes a day for two weeks to the same boys everyday. That's 40 hours of lesson plans for two weeks -- more than thirteen times the amount I'm usually expected to do each week.

Meh. The other teachers take enough crap year round. I can put up with this, I guess.

I'm not looking forward to whatever the hell it is that's coming this summer, though.

I guess my biggest issue is not with the amount of work -- I had quite a good day furrowing away at my desk today. And let's not forget what a gigantic fucking nerd I am at heart. I've had a lovely time doing my introductory "parts of speech" lessons, and drifting a little too deeply off into essays on grammar. This is my shit, people. I'm right at home in this.

My main coteacher, who I have decided (for today) that I don't really like that much, made my place quite clear to me when I approached her about an after school program for the boys who still can't read English at all. I am for pronunciation and conversation only. I'm to leave the proper teaching up to the proper teachers. But fuck that. I don't know how I'm supposed to teach anything so long as these kids don't know what a noun is. Even if they just need to be taught the English vocabulary for the parts of speech, and that's what the problem has been, my job will be a lot easier (and their understanding a lot clearer) once I can refer to sentence structure and have them know what the fuck (generally) is going on.

Anyway, my issue is with the amount of time I've been given to plan all of this. I know it's a cultural thing, or whatever, but I really get freaked out by last minute announcements. I still don't have a fucking clue whether there will be 3 or thirty boys in each class. But it's nothing compared to the hell Mike's school is putting him through. He's been somehow sucked into this MOE nonsense that Mr. Kwan did me the fantastic favor of lying to my main coteacher about. While we were out a couple of weeks ago, she phoned him to ask if I wanted to do it. "Do you want to ________?", by the way, is coteacher speak for, "You have to ____________." When Mr. Kwan saw the look on my face when he asked me if I wanted to do the MOE camp, he said, "I will tell her you already planned vacation." God and everybody else bless that man and his complete and total lack of company loyalty.

My parents' class is supposed to end this Friday, but the mothers informed me that they'll keep coming anyway. I'm getting pretty good at just being informed of things.

So why so down on Coteacher today? Well. Mr. Kwan was bored, what with the exams and lack of work, so he came to get me to go to lunch early so we'd have time to get coffee and dick around in the smoking room after. We had just sat down when Coteacher came over and interrupted our conversation to have one with Mr. Kwan in Korean. I mean literally interrupted. As in I was mid sentence in English and she jumped in over me in louder Korean. He kept trying to switch back to English, and would translate when she would give him enough time to, but it was no use. I know I'm in South Korea and I'm working on the Korean as fast as I can. I don't get irritated when the other teachers speak Korean, for more than one obvious reason. But you have to understand that lunch with Mr. Kwan is about the only time I have anything resembling a fluent conversation on a daily basis.

Mr. Lee, on the other hand, continues to speak Korean, slowly and deliberately, directly to me and I continue to shock myself with how easy it is to pick up enough to respond. And I don't know if it's a direct result or of this or not, but I've found myself responding in Korean naturally far more often to my other coworkers and not being nearly as intimidated when they address me in Korean. I'm able to calm down now and pay attention to what they are saying, instead of panicking and hearing everything as a big cloud of unintelligible nonsense. I guess he's a pretty good teacher.

I still won't speak any Korean in front of Mr. Kwan because he makes fun of me too much and claims he can't understand a word I'm saying. Which could be true. But that's no reason to gloat. The worst came when we were out and he told me to remember the name of a restaurant in case he couldn't. When I repeated it after him, he said, "Ah! You look Korean!" A few blocks of walking later, he asked if I could remember. When I repeated the name in what I like to think was a flawless accent, he said, "Ah! You do have a brain in your head!" Asshole. He made up for it though, by thinking to himself for a moment and then muttering, "Uh... no I don't want to say that." Of course, I insisted that, after mentioning whatever it was out loud, he had to say it. To which he responded, "Actually, I think you look very smart." "Look" and "seem" are words that get mixed up a lot by non-native speakers. I don't know which he meant, but I'll take either one, any day of the week.

Coteacher told me today that my accent is turning English. As in, British English. Mr. Kwan told her she was just adjusting to my accent and understanding me more easily. I'm not sure what either one of them were driving at, but I'm pretty sure I'm not speaking with any kind of an English accent. At least I hope not. Because that's weird.

1 comment:

Kel said...

Re: English Camp Lesson Planning-
you could come up with a structure that will be the same for every day, and just change the themes/conversation questions/objectives/whatever, so essentially YOU are doing the same thing, but they aren't... have you tried Bogglesworld? I get TONS of resources from there.

I teach a 3 hour class and a 1.5 hour class every day to the same students, and I get away with about 45 minutes of lesson planning a day for all of it. It gets MUCH faster!