We are now about 4 weeks into the teaching schedule and things are finally starting to be a bit more routine, even down to me writing this on the same looooong bus ride home.
So, both of us are teaching at 6 schools, 2 Middle and 4 Elementary. My first day was an interesting one, I took a 20 minute bus to school, making sure I was sitting right next to the driver asking him at every stop if this was Kumgwa, or Gumgwa, or Geumgwa, the spelling of which I’m still not sure of. He wasn’t too happy with me bothering him constantly but I got to school in one piece and on time. Good start I thought…. Perhaps not. It turned out they weren’t expecting me and were amazed I’d managed to use a bus. Could have had the day off! Ah well.
The first week passed very well doing introduction lessons and finding out about the kids, the levels they are at with their English (which runs right through the spectrum), and the bits and bobs you need to know about the school. On the first Wednesday the principal greeted me cordially, I bowed, said “Hello” and “Nice to meet you” in Korean and went on my way. Great, this is easy I thought. At 3 o’clock I was invited in to the staff room for what turned out to be a mini feast. Out came boxes and boxes of fried chicken, coca cola and beer! I couldn’t have been happier. Beer during the school day! Everyone was busy chatting in Korean so I just kept my mouth shut and immediately became aware that they were talking about me. I always listen out for “Yongo or yongu – the word for English in Korean). The principal then shouts out “He looks like young boy! HA HA HA!” I smiled. I did make the faux pas of diving straight into the stickiest chicken I have ever eaten and ended up with it all over my fingers, round my mouth and on my nose. Perhaps that is why I look like young boy? I’ll never know.
The other thing that really sticks out from the 1st week of teaching is being called handsome and cute by children. It’s just weird. Ruth gets stared at everywhere she goes and the students love her blonde hair. They’re not shy about personal space either. I had one boy (I think about 11 or 12) run his finger down my nose and say “Pinocchio”, while laughing his head off.
Generally my Elementary schools are good, and are mainly fun lessons, Middle school is much more of a challenge. There you really have to work to keep them interested but thanks to the massive amount of resources that are on the internet (in particular a website called eatyourkimchi.com) it’s made a lot easier.