Oh Lord. Some NETs highly recommend using some Korean in the classroom. I'm coming around to the idea -- it's effective on a lot of levels. One: They don't need to learn "be quiet" in English. They already know what it means. But saying it in Korean makes their darling little heads snap around much quicker. Two: Oh my God. Teacher speaks Korean. She's a real person, kind of. Three: It really does thrill their little souls to know that you are undergoing the same arduous task that they are, and that you care enough about them (this is all connected -- they are Korean, they live in Korea, Korea's language is Korean) to at least try to learn it, and it helps them to connect to you on a much deeper level.
However, I mostly reserve my Korean moments for outside of the classroom. Because there's nothing like letting one little Korean word slip, in context, in response to something they've said in Korean, to turn the entire class on to the understanding that Teacher speaks Korean, obviously fluently.
And then it takes ten minutes to explain that, although you did understand that Jihoon was asking Jaein if he had an extra pen, and that, "obseo?" was an appropriate thing to say to Jaein at that moment, you cannot understand all of their answers to the daily lesson's questions when shouted at you, en masse, in Korean. And besides, they are supposed to be speaking English. Whether you can understand them in Korean or not.
Today I had another charming moment with the old hag teacher when she decided to ask how my after school classes were going. I told the God's honest truth -- one class, the other teacher's students, was absolutely beautiful. Her students were a total nightmare, due mostly to the fact that their levels vary wildly and they have shitty attitudes. Well, I didn't say 'shitty attitudes', but it was definitely implied. She wouldn't have understood if I did. And that, without a co-teacher (which I gracefully neglected to mention was legally obliged to be in the classroom at all times), it was hard to keep things moving fast enough for the high students, when some of the students are so low. She gave me some great advice. Are you ready for this?
"I think you should let the students to understand you."
Yes. Thank you. I would love to let the students to understand me. I'm not quite sure how to do that, however, when the students don't understand any English, and that (for all intents and purposes) is pretty much all I speak.
I've given up on my co-teachers understanding this situation and giving any helpful advice. I think that SK's English education, and their utilization of the NETs, would take wonderous strides forward if all co-teachers of NETs were required, at least one time, to teach an entire lesson entirely in English. No Korean translation, no explanation in Korean, no directions in Korean, and no discipline in Korean. Only English. Then, and only then, will the co-teachers really understand what it's like to be a NET in a classroom alone. And not even really then -- they, at least, still have the intial respect of being Korean to begin with.
So, I've had no other choice but to turn to the other NETs. They've been fairly helpful with suggestions, and also have made me feel like less of a tool in the entire situation. Many NETs are having, or have had, the exact same problems. Although most of the problems are symptom of a problem with the system as a whole, that doesn't negate the fact that, at this point in time, I'm the only one responsible for finding a way to fix them. And they're not going to just go away. So. Well. I've got some work to do.
Today I helped proctor an exam with my main co-teacher, just to see what it's like. Boy, are they ever serious about cheating. The classes were mixed in with each other, to prevent any cheating, and as a result, some of my after school students from the good class ended up mixed in with the third grade class we were proctoring for. This resulted in two things: 1. my co-teacher getting an idea of what I'm dealing with, with the second graders after school and, 2. the third graders getting immensely jealous.
Coteacher had to address only a few students during the course of the exam and -- guess what -- all mine. I told her this afterward, drawing attention to one in particular, who had, in fact, drawn attention to himself, really. She said it was no wonder I was having problems, as these students were quite strange. I said, no -- I have no problems with those students. Those students are from my angelic class.
And the third graders got jealous when, after the exam had ended, I called a few of my after school students by name and asked them about specific things -- how's your toe that got smashed a couple of days ago? How was the Korean exam you were worried about?
Teacher -- why you them name telling? Why no us name telling? My name BAK... SONG... MIN. BAK SONG MIN. You remember?
Well, my darlings, there are 80 of them and 700 of you. You do the math. I'm sorry. I'm not a machine. It was the first time they realized that I can say and remember Korean names, just not 1600 of them. I can, however, remember faces, and who is quiet, who is outgoing, who's English is on what level.... I can remember who plays on the handball team and who's really good at drawing. That's got to count for something, right?