Friday, October 14, 2005

Ding Ding Dang

I was allowed the bliss of sleeping in on Monday, and sleep in I did. Interrrupted only by the Canadian teacher's Sunday 9 p.m. phone call (wherein we established that I had eaten and walked around and was happy to just sleep), my 12+ hours left me feeling like a new woman.

And I was waking up in Daegu City! As much as I want to say I was tripping out about that, I wasn't. It's more like I was just amazed at how normal it felt to be here. I have continued to feel that way. Part of me thinks "Holy cow! Asia!" and another part of me is like, "Yeah, OK, why didn't I do this years ago, again?"

John came around 1:30 p.m. with my two suitcases, a glorious sight to behold, which had been delivered to the school that morning. We dropped them in the studio and then headed to work. I had got ready without the luxury of a change of clothes, so I had on the same black soft-cloth stretchy pants I had worn on the plane with an extra black tank top I'd had in my carry-on. I really didn't want to wear the same blue three-quarter length sleeve shirt I'd been wearing for two days but I knew tank tops were not so highly looked upon here, so I tied my black with orange/yellow etc. print scarf around my shoulders to make a more modest and kind of nicer appearance.

Since I would need to start taking the bus to work the next day, John and I counted the bus stops that I might know how/when to get off. Within a few minutes we were parking and heading to the second floor of the multi-business building, all outside entrances and dingy marble stairs. Hello, Ding Ding Dang -- Suseoung branch.

The name of the school, Ding Ding Dang (pronounced dahng) doesn't sound as silly in Korean; I think it sounds more playful than nonsensical. It's a children's English school. And the children were everywhere! I'd forgotten the sheer cacophony to be had when you throw a bunch of children and their energy into a confined space like a classroom.

I was introduced to about 18 women in 30 seconds, so I hardly remembered anyone's name. They showed me my seat, and I chatted a little with the Korean teachers whose desks were on either side of me. One said, "You don't look like an American."

I spent Monday afternoon observing classes that in a few days I would inherit. Each class is taught by a Korean teacher and a foreign teacher, or ENT (English Native-speaking Teacher). We, the KTs and the ENTs, are to make lesson plans and incorporate all of the school's materials including syllabus, grammar book, reading book, phonics book, etc. for each level. I don't have to do lesson plans yet, but I'm definitely getting the hang of how the system works.

It was really amazing to see these kids! They chorused answers, were very attentive, and had boundless energy. The school uses a LOT of games to drill the lessons, like tic-tac-toe with random verbs, or read the sentence and jump to one side if it's correct and the other side if it's wrong. Stuff like that. The kids had these games down pat. And, they use rock-paper-scissors as a tiebreaker for EVERYTHING, although it's rock-scissors-paper here and is apparently a very popular Korean game of its own.

By the end of the day I was overwhelmed and drained, but it was cool to see the notes the departing Canadian teacher had left for me about each class and each student mesh with what I observed in the classrooms.

Tuesday was much of the same thing all over, only starting at 10 a.m. because starting Tuesday I also attended my morning pre-school class, in addition to the afternoon classes for students who range in age from 7-13. The pre-school class was absolutely hilarious! They are actually five and six years old, and they come for four hours each day, one hour of which I will be teaching them. I have twelve students. OH MY, they are a trip. There are so many cute little personalities!!! I will undoubtedly be rambling about them incessantly. They are probably my most delightful surprise; who knew how charmed I'd be by 12 five- and six-year-olds shouting "Teacher Linda! I'm first!" or yelling, absolutely screeching together answers like, "Today is Tuesday!" so that it practically pierces my eardrums.

Some of the classes were not quite as charming. There was one in particular the former teacher had warned me about in his notes of 10- and 11-year-old boys who so don't want to be there. They are about Level 5. They can make sentences and read, and they totally know more than they are letting on; that's my obsevation. From the first minute of observing them, this particular Korean teacher used a lot of Korean with them and said apologetically to me, "I can't speak much English in here; they don't understand. They need help." And so forth. But even she admitted that they just don't want to study. I think I'm taking the approach more like, I know you understand me so, eyes up here! Besides, I don't want to be having to ask the Korean teachers every five seconds for translation, and we're not supposed to, anyway.

Most of the classes are really well behaved, and they are a mix of really bright students and some who may struggle a bit more. But with all the fast-paced multiple activites, everyone gets a chance to practice, and I've noticed that they help each other out, too, with spelling and sounds and everything.

By the end of Tuesday I had a good handle on how the school day went: forty-minute periods, then switching to a new class, from around 2 p to around 7p, with a different break time each day. But I had not even come close to memorizing my list of classes yet. I was like, wait, where am I going this period? Oh, right, level 1, 7-year-olds, or whatever. I was tired, but very intrigued by it all, and ready to come back Wednesday for my first day of teaching (from lesson plans already made by the other teacher).

1 comment:

jp said...

Hi,
My name is Jimmy bowens, I think I used to work at that school, is it the Ding Ding Dang in Bummul Dong, in Daegu, if so, is Janice still working there?
I need to get a proof of employment document from them so if at all possible could you post the e-mail address for admin. there, thanks.