A general kind of update, I guess.
I have spent the evening making a yogurt topping for baked potatoes with the parsley and chives I've been growing, as well as basil pesto (since my basil plants have been getting out of control since the weather turned a bit) for dinner tomorrow night to repay Busan for reformatting my hard drive.... which I don't really need to do, since he's the one who really wants to do it. Using my computer drives him up a wall, and he muttered something about not being able to watch basketball while he's at my house. At any rate, I like to cook, and I'm excited that the plants are getting to the point where I can actually make use of them.
I've got a new little kitten entering the teenager phase, running around and making havoc of absolutely everything. The mood swings are incredible, but most of the time she just follows me around and needs to always be touching me, like a dog. Which is difficult to handle at times. She also ate my phone charger, and constantly knocks over plants and drags dust bunnies out from places I don't even know about. Her absolute favorite activity is making an obstacle course out of my hanging clothes, starting from one end and winding her way down through all of the hangers, knocking 65% of the clothes down every single time she does it. She also fell in the toilet last week. Her name is Vera.
I also had my first meeting with the "English club" today. God bless this whole situation. They're older, and they've got their mind set about the way things should be, and my attitude has been pretty dumps, since I basically got strong-armed into this in the first place. They decided they would choose the time and the book, and have been doing things my pride finds testing all week, like reminding me to review the book before I teach them, and constantly reminding me about the class. Once I got a copy of the book, I basically gave up for a minute. It's one of those terrible "practical English! super fun!" pieces of shit that does absolutely nothing for people on their low level. Before you know how to say, "I was born in Korea," you do not need to be learning about how to talk about pulling pranks.
Beyond that, the book taught absolutely zero grammar, had everything in Korean translation, and featured more than a few incorrectly used or worded expressions. Which I knew was going to be a problem, because it was going to be difficult to convince the teachers of that, given that the book is allegedly co-written by a native speaker. But let me explain something to you:
Even a native speaker comes out with bizarre English, when what they're faced with is translating Korean text into English, while also being shoehorned into using a certain number of expressions per very short dialogue or paragraph. It comes out weird. It comes out weird even when someone asks me how to say something in English by giving me the Korean, because translation is hard and awkward, and a lot of things just cannot translate equally.
Which is why it's better to work with a book that has no translation. So that you can get a natural feel for the language, without trying to equate it exactly with something in your native tongue. Because there rarely is an exact equation, and shit will always come out weird when you do that. Because of my situation here in Korea, which has meant a lot of natural exposure to Korean and learning from context, there are a lot of things, for example, that I understand exactly in Korean. But I couldn't put them into English for you very well. That, in my opinion, is the best way to learn. Once you're to the point where you are able.
Also, I'm pretty old school, and just completely bypassing grammar when you're at such a low level is a big problem for me. If you want to be able to speak, getting grammar patterns down is essential, because each grammar pattern you learn becomes a tool. One grammar pattern unlocks an entire level of speech. One expression...... suits one particular situation, which you may never have the chance to even address in English, if you don't know any grammar.
So I was feeling pretty antsy about the whole thing. I was foreseeing a situation where they wouldn't want to change the book, because they've been told this book is "practical English" (which to me is just a huge red flag, when it comes to language learning in general -- it generally means "short cuts which won't really get you anywhere, but are awfully tempting"), and then when I have to teach the book and can't bring myself to not point out that a lot of the English is being used incorrectly, a. it's going to be really difficult to explain why to people who don't understand much English to begin with and b. they're not going to want to accept that. Because, after all, a native speaker co-wrote the fucking book. So it must be right.
There are a lot of things I can just ignore and swallow and deal with gracefully. Being argued with about by my native language by people who don't really speak it is not one of them, especially when it's my job to know these things.
But luckily, it didn't come to that. I was able to convince them pretty quickly that the book was too difficult for them, and that the alternative I brought in would be much more effective in the end. I demonstrated how I would be able to teach each one, and they realized that, since the expression book has everything in translation, and very few writing or speaking exercises, there's really no point in me "teaching" it to them. But my book is chock full of both writing and speaking, with an emphasis on conversation and a focus on just one or two grammar patterns per chapter. Once I did a quick run through, they decided it might be better to go with mine.
And I didn't even have to get into the right/wrong English debate. Which was a relief.
In short, as with everything I initially buck against with my job, I will probably end up enjoying this class. Teaching adults is a different world entirely from teaching kids, and I do really miss it from time to time.
One more small, but curious thing: Today, as I was sitting at the coffee shop working on a chapter in my Korean book, a kid leaned over and said, "Are you studying Korean?" I thought it was pretty obvious that I was, but I guess it was as good an opening as any. He's 24 Korean age, and just returned from a year in the Philippines. He's about to graduate and go into the "international management" field, whatever that means. Naturally, he was pretty excited to find a foreigner in his local coffee shop. He suggested that we could help each other study, and I politely informed him that, actually, I already have a partner. He said, well then, I know this is a little impolite, but maybe we could be friends. I told him I would run that past my boyfriend. Not because I actually need to run anything past my boyfriend, but just to make him aware of the situation. Just in case.
The thing is, it confused me a little to hear him call it "impolite". Now, when I did run it past Busan later this evening, just to keep everything out on the table, Busan immediately bugged out. Partially, I'm sure, because some guy is chatting his girlfriend up in a coffee shop, but oddly, his response was that this guy saying he wanted to be my friend "at first glance" means that he's a rude person. Or, to be more precise, "He must be a jerk." Which is a word he's recently acquired from yours truly. You can imagine how.
I don't know. That one is new to me, but I thought it was strange that they both said saying you want to be friends the first time you meet someone is impolite. I asked Busan to explain, not because I was trying to push his buttons, but because there must be something behind this that I'm not aware of yet. He stopped answering my messages at that point, though. Haha. Guess I'll have to wait until tomorrow for clarification. If anyone has any insight, please feel free to share.