Last night I spent 65,000 won. On what, pray tell, you ask? On my effing students. And this camp. Which better be fucking fantastic. The sad thing is, the money will not cease to flow at this point. If these poor little fuckers are going to be left completely in my charge for two hours a day for two weeks, then I'm going to do what I can not to bore them to death. While also getting down to the nitty gritty of the structure of English. Lordy.
Coteacher informed me that it's very good that I have a creative writing degree, because Korean students have an infamously limited access to writing education. I don't know about this, not having come up in the SKorean education system and all (and let's face it -- the American system isn't tops when it comes to learning how to express your own ideas), but I do know that more than a few illegal two-three hour hardcore sessions in New York were devoted to me and a Korean uni student sitting down and hashing out exactly what an essay was. Pratt was especially liberal in its expectations for papers -- you made them all your own if you wanted a high mark. None of this regurgitation nonsense. Which was hard for them.
Coteacher told me that the Korean system does not focus on forming arguments, but on repeating adequately. And I heard the same thing from my students in New York, who were endlessly frustrated by trying to understand exactly what their professors expected of them.
Of course, these were some of my favorite sessions. Argumentative essays is one place where my structure is really strong. And it always felt like some sort of massive breakthrough was being made. Extremely rewarding.
So anyway, one item on the list is a notebook for each student. I'm not sure how well this writing thing is going to go over, based on some of the levels I've seen in my classes, but I think it's also a way to really gauge where these guys are at -- if they have time to write whatever they want in English. I'm going to stress that it's not a time to worry about grammar or spelling, but just to say as much as they can in English. I think they'll find, when the native teacher isn't staring them down and waiting for a response to a question, they know much more than they realize.
Plus I'm excited to see what they have to say.
Also on the list of purchases is a CD player with a multi-user headphone jack for English music (God knows where I'm going to find any these boys will actually like), a webcam with built-in mic for skyping with Mike's classes and possibly my 14 year old cousin and his friends, back in Texas (if it can be arranged), English language comic books, Boogle and Scrabble (being shipped from the U.S. by my lovely mother). In short, a lot of ideas I've been kicking around for a while for spicing up the English Jonuh for a while. I also spent approximately four hours on Tuesday cutting and taping little number words on three decks of playing cards. The little shits better appreciate it.
Lesson planning lesson planning lesson planning. It'd be easy enough to just download random crap off of ESL sites, print it out, and throw it at them in bald form. But the thought of that makes me cringe. So, instead, I've been making my own worksheets -- particularly for the parts of speech, which I haven't found anything at all decent already in existence. I really don't think we're supposed to be teaching that.
I've also asked my little cousin and his friends if they would make a short video talking about their daily lives -- at school, at home and what they do with their free time. My camp boys, in return, will make a video (in English) for them, explaining the differences and similarities and what life is like as a fourteen year old in SK.
And yesterday I received my first post card for the class, from good ol' reliable Brendo. It reads:
Hello friends --
My name is Brendan. I am 25 years old, I live in New York City, and work as a librarian. In a library. On Thursdays. I like to read and write, and would be very happy to receive your letters. Also, can I borrow a dollar?
Then he drew a picture of himself frowning.
Hard times, Stateside, I tells ya.
I told that guy he needs to get out. Teach English somewhere for a while. He's already been thinking about it. New York has become even more brutal in the last few months, from the sounds of it. A graduate degree and no fucking work is ridiculous. But last in, first out reigns supreme. As does the rampant nepotism that has had NYC in its clutches for as long as I have known her, anyway.
He sent another for me:
Greetings from New York, circa 1975. Richard Nixon has resigned the presidency, the band Fleetwood Mac is quite popular, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is unstoppable on a basketball court. Also, my name is Brendan, and I have yet to be born.
Funny guy. Hello, if you're reading. And thanks for the mail, buddy.
In other news, it's fucking cold, I have an earache, and I can't stop waking up at 6 am. Today I will cut my hair, lesson plan and study Korean. Possibly go out with Mike to run more errands tonight. We've vowed to stop eating at one particularly awful restaurant in Bupyeong just because it's comfortable and the mandoo is fantastic, because the rest of the food is pure shit.
And last night we may or may not have been harrassed by a large group of male university students -- sometimes it's hard to tell. I'd like to assume it was just drunken nonsense, but after that incident in the restaurant with the other big group of uni boys, I'm a little more careful. Let's just say speaking loud, obnoxious English with your pals, swearing in Korean and laughing loudly and aggressively in a foreigner's face doesn't seem to me to be a genuine effort at making friends.
Some people seem to take offense to our very presence, and as much as I'd love to throw down sometimes when this nonsense starts in, I don't think street fighting as an immigrant is the best idea. So for now I just stare straight ahead and try to keep the eye rolling to a minimum while I finish my cigarette. I'm not going to wind up in a police station, lose my job and get kicked out of the country for the sake of trying to prove a point to a bunch of hipster retards.
But let it be know: I could totally take them.