Sympathy for the students.

There's a lot of stuff going on at school, but I'm going to give all of that a week or so to settle before I get into it. HT is no longer HT (rejoice!) but is now Old HT. My new head teacher is now the artist formerly known as the mousey teacher, who I originally got totally wrong. If you don't remember her (and I'm not self-deluded enough to expect that you will), she was the one who I had a very awkward lunch conversation with at the beginning of last year, in which I assumed she was being subtly xenophobic. Which I will blatantly admit I read wrong, which is why I'm constantly trying to work on my perception of conversations that may make me a little sensitive, since I'm a foreigner. I do feel like I've come a long way in that regard this past year, and hardly see any ghosts at all in the shadows of my interactions with Koreans these days. My life is a lot easier that way.

Anyway, she's is mousey, though. And I'm a little worried about her in this new head teacher position, but nearly one fifth as worried as she is.

I'll get to that all later. Right now, I want to talk about the other thing which has taken over my life at the moment, which is studying Korean.

Bleck. It's horrible, and I seem to only be getting worse at it. Which is probably a complete exaggeration of the current state of affairs, but I can honestly say I do not think I have ever put so much work into something with so little return, at least at this point. My comprehension obviously continues to increase, but my speaking is so completely shit.

However, I'm continuing to learn and grow in my understanding of second language learning itself in a multitude of ways, especially in regards to how difficult it is for my students to do the things that I ask them to do on a daily basis, and also how important those things are. It makes me so proud to watch students who are at a lower level in English, technically, than I am in Korean, speak out and complete tasks and communicate in a way that I am still struggling with, especially considering the fact that they only have an hour a week to try, whereas my entire daily life is filled with opportunities.

I never again want to hear any NEST complain about how their students struggle to complete even one correct full sentence in English. Because, since I now have my tutor, I know how daunting that can seem, despite whatever technical knowledge of the language you have, when a teacher is staring at you and expecting an answer.

To illustrate, I'm pretty sure my tutor thinks that I have the worst boyfriend on Earth. We fell on the subject of White Day at my last session, and he asked me a series of questions. This is about how the conversation went:

Tutor: "Oh! White Day is coming up next week. Your boyfriend must be planning something special for you. Are you excited?"

What INP wanted to say: "No, no. I really hope that he's not, because I didn't have the chance to do anything nice for him on Valentine's Day. If he does something big for me, then I'll feel really guilty about that."

What INP actually said: "No..... I.... this year..... we do nothing. Maybe he will do nothing."

Tutor: "You don't think your boyfriend will do anything for you on White Day? Oh, that's right! Americans only have Valentine's Day. Do you mean he did something for you on Valentine's Day instead?"

What INP wanted to say: "No. We were having a hard time on Valentine's Day, because he had a lot of overtime at work, so I decided we just shouldn't do anything. Which is why I think we shouldn't do anything for White Day, either. Because that's really not fair. Anyway, my birthday is two days after White Day, and that's a lot to expect in one week. I would prefer that he just do something nice for my birthday, and we can just forget about White Day this year."

What INP actually said: "No.... Valentine's Day also we did nothing. He working a lot overtime. So we did nothing. So White Day also nothing. Maybe.... my birthday.... is two days after. Maybe he will do some nice thing my birthday."

Tutor: "So..... you did nothing for Valentine's Day, and you'll do nothing for White Day.... you must be angry at your boyfriend? Maybe he's not such a nice boyfriend....."

INP: "No.... I.... it's okay. I'm okay. I have a nice boyfriend."

Fucking idiotic.

Anyway, bitching about it is not going to make it better. I've got two more chapters to finish before Thursday, so I'd better get to it. I'm just going to pretend the free talking portion of our sessions doesn't exist for now. Ignoring things usually makes them go away, right?


Marilyn said...

I love this! I think this is exactly how I sound in Korean, too. A lot of reactions like, "Ah yes, North Korea... it is not good....hm."

Charles said...

Could you be suffering from "the curse of self awareness?"

How much of your speaking ability is inhibited by the fact that you are an adult
-and you (think you) know what you sound like
-and, since you (think you) don't sound totally right, you're inhibited by it,
thus, are making a bigger deal out of you current ability than any of the native speakers you meet and interact with who
-know that you are still learning
-and are thus giving you a pass for some of you mistakes because they understood your message, even though it wasn't perfect,
-and they appreciate your efforts to learn the language,
but never tell you they (sort of) understand what it's like to be in your shoes.

[I think this is the longest run-on sentence I've ever written.]

ダンちゃん said...

Hi again! Good to hear you are not letting that damn overperformer from the news get you down! ^^

If you will forgive my presumptuousness again with the advice, but I recommend grabbing an iPod if you don't already have one, setting your iTunes to Korea if you haven't already, and grabbing heaps of Korean language podcasts (not language learner podcasts, just normal radio) and listening the shit out of it. A few thousand hours of listening will do wonders for your speaking.

p.s. passed that post-grad entrance exam that I mentioned. ^^