Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Episode 41: In Which DFM Becomes A Gorilla And Has To Fight Off Zombies

On my way to school today I ran into one of my students.  It's nice that this school is the only school in Seoul (as far as I can tell) with brown, plaid uniforms and red jackets, because it makes it really easy to spot my students outside of school.  The student in question was with her dad and I heard her introduce me as her English teacher (wow, I really am picking up the language by "osmosis" here).  The dad bowed to me and shook my hand with both of his, which I'm pretty sure is a sign of deep respect.  It kind of caught me off guard, as I always feel like I have to apologize for speaking English when I meet people.

I was invited to have breakfast with my first class again.  The food was some sort of unrecognizable yellow paste, but it tasted delicious.  For the rest of the day though I saw a number of the younger kids with big yellow stains all over their shirts.

I had another language breakthrough this morning.  This girl and the boy on the other side of me had a rather pleasant conversation about all sorts of things in a combination of English and Korean.  The boy asked me something that nearly passed over my head, but I recognized two of the words and realized that he was asking me if it was cold in Canada.  Also, before this class even started I had a girl tell me her throat was sore, in Korean, and I was able to decipher that as well by recognizing a couple of the words and then filling in the rest.  

Ji-Hyeun (from the climbing gym) says my Korean is getting much better, but that isn't saying much when you start with nothing.  I told her I was in a competition with the children to learn more Korean than they could English.  On closer examination I see that this is a conflict of interests.

The first class of the day was still working on a tree unit.  They had to tear up strips of coloured tissue paper, crumple the strips into a ball, and then glue the ball onto their page to make a flower.  There were some really good flowers/trees, and then there were some pictures that were, um... special.  Take Daniel here:  He's got his tree, but he also has a lightning bolt, some crazy creatures that eat your legs, an angry Chinese farmer with his legs bitten off(?) and, of course, a shark.  He called me over to see his picture by saying "Teacher, teacher, Boom!!"  He was quite proud of it.

I don't know what happened here, but those girls at the back sure thought something was funny.  This class was working on cutting more heads off people and putting them on ants (there is more than one class for each age).

My owner has a school that he uses as a show pony of sorts to impress other schools and parents.  The school still does art and activities like my school, but there is a greater emphasis on teaching the children English there than at my school.  It made me realize that my students were in danger of suffering from a mine-shaft, er... English language gap, so I ramped up my efforts.  With the class above I introduced them to analogy phonics (word families).

Another class (I've lost track of who's who, I think these are five year olds) was working on drawing/naming pieces of food that ants like to eat.  They had to cut out their food and then the items would be placed on a big picture of the inside of an ant hill that the teacher had made on he bulletin board.  This girl shows me how ants eat dalgi (strawberries, or as the kids say it, "suh-tah-wah-bewwies").  If you're wondering why she's in a tutu, I think a number of the children have to go to ballet after school.

It was my big moment in Special Art class, and I got to make up my own lesson today.  The topic was flowers, and I had the children make three flowers.  One flower had to be made using only coloured paper, one using only crayons, and the third using a combination of the two materials.  

I realized afterwards that I was so busy trying to make sure the flowers were being made that I forgot to teach about the flowers in English (which was the whole point of the lesson).  Never mind though, the teacher had left the room for a minute and I was able to get the class back under control, sort of, and also managed to get across that I wanted them to sit in their seats all by myself.  I consider that a moral victory.  Sticker Girl was a big help though, as she really tried her hardest to figure out what I was saying so that she could lead by example for the rest of the kids.

Don't ask, because you don't want to know what's going on here.  Mickey is giving her best Kevin McCallister impersonation I guess, while Lew (Balance Boy) is... well, I'm not sure what Lew is doing.  I think he's trying to get the lid off the glue stick with his teeth.  I told you not to ask.

Of course Louis was still up to his old tricks.  Here he is demonstrating his new poses
 for the camera.

Many classes are still working on their ant farms.  I'm pretty sure the ant in this case died a long time ago, but that hasn't stopped the children from pointing it out to me every time I come to class.  I haven't the heart or the vocabulary, to tell them the truth though.

This girl was doing chin ups off my forearms.  The kids seem fascinated with my forearms and are always trying to hang off of them or feel the muscles contracting, and they also like to pull my arm hair.  Speaking of arm hair, the girls in one class seem to think that my modest arm coat warrants calling me a "gorilla."  Whenever I see them I beat my chest and grunt, which causes them to go into hysterics and scream with glee.

Leaving my classes has been a bit of a problem lately.  The longer I stay the more popular I become, and it's gotten to the point now where I literally have to fight my way through throngs of students to get to the door.  Look at them, they're like really small, really happy zombies: they just keep coming after you, placing their mouths on your face and neck.

Now and then one of the little zombies sneaks out and follows me down the hall.  This girl actually followed me all the way down the hall and up the stairs before she turned back to her own class.  I'm worried one of them is going to follow me all the way to my next class one of these days.

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