Tom and I have now been teaching for three days: he is brilliant, and I am sick.
The first day was nice, although for me the company's constant and inevitable inability to tell me about the changes they make to my schedule reared its ugly head once again. Rather than being in Yale, I was in Boston. The Boston teacher had been told about this on Friday, which was nice for him. So far I have remained amused by this, rather than irritated, although we'll see where we are in a few months.
When I first got my schedule, I was slightly disappointed to see that all of my classes were above the 'phonics' level; I thought it would be fun to teach young children who needed to learn the sounds of Western languages before they even learnt any words. So I was quite excited to see that my first class turned out to be with two small children on phonics book 1, unit 6. Annoyingly, phonics book 1, unit 6 is the letter H. How on earth do you teach children (who already have the huh sound in their language) how to pronounce H in English?! I honestly spent the entire fifty minutes going “ha! Haaaa! Hahahahahaaaa!” to two very hyperactive Korean children. Before class, one of them kept running in and out wildly; the other one was pretending to sneak into the room, and running out whenever I addressed him. The entire class was a cross between fun and hell.
My first day at my actual school, on Tuesday, brought with it some very fun classes. My current schedule is working 3-8 at Tom's school on Mondays, and 3:30 to 8:20 at another academy ten minutes' drive away, on Posco Island – which I'm sure can't be its real name. POSCO is the major company on the island, a steel works, and all the children are the sons and daughters of “Posco men.” I've been drumming ambition into my girls and a sense of ambition into all of my students, which is the only way to go, really.
Teaching Korean children can be very sad a lot of the time. Yesterday, Tom taught a fifteen year old who had had to do eleven hours of work. He told Tom that when he leaves school, the first thing he wants to do is spend a week playing.
What's more, a lot of it is learning by rote – some classes call to mind the scene from Matilda where the children are chanting monotonously. I work through the books with them, and have assigned some homework (which I hate doing) but not much, and have introduced some activities within the context of using the book which most of my children seem to enjoy. But whenever I can, I play games with them. It gives them a chance to practise spontaneous spoken English, and (more importantly) it gives them a chance to have fun!