Sunday, February 12, 2006

Let Them Eat Steak

Have I mentioned that I actually like my job these days? I know, it's strange, who'd-a-thunk-it during those grueling second and third months here in country. I'm not sure why the change; it must be a combination of 1)comfort level with the job 2)comfort level with my place here in general 3)Ding Ding Dang recognizing my (and other teachers') individual skills and talents and acting accordingly as any good manager should 4)rapport and even occasional triumph with the majority of my students 5)an almost daily escape to the coffee shop across the street during the afternoon break 6)many evening/weekend/out-of-work activities keeping me occupied. I swear being busy can make anything bearable. I mean, look how I managed to stay at the Cambridgeside Galleria Borders for so long: in 2004, it was John Kerry's campaign, MoveOn, house parties and canvassing; in 2005 I had writing group, guitar and softball. I didn't have time to be consumed with hating work!

Among other things I like about my job is the evening "special class" I have recently started teaching. During January, I covered a level 11 class that had previously been taught by the departed Canadian teacher -- you know, the one they took so long to replace partly because they rejected applicants whose interviews they liked once they discovered they were black? Anyway, the Korean teacher who shared that class with me is assistant director Betty, whom I like very much. She also had another level 11 class that met at a different time, and both of those classes completed level 11 at the end of January, thus "graduating" from the leveled Ding Ding Dang curriculum.

Not that that in any way means they are prepared to go forth and speak English in the world. Each level lasts about 15-20 weeks, and you're lucky if your kids can carry on a conversation by level 8 or 9, because some of them absolutely cannot. What does happen after level 11 is sometimes DDD creates a "special class" for advanced learning. I already teach one of those, on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, which has been in place since before I got here. But Betty created another one for MWF out of these two recently graduated level 11s, and she basically picked me to be the native-speaking teacher for it. We really like it, and I think she and I work well together.

One of the things we are doing is having them write a composition for homework due every class period. That's three a week, much to the dismay of a few of them, but for the most part they really like English and some of their essays have been creative, although they definitely need a lot of grammatical help and practice. But that's what I am here for. And, I am grading their compositions, whereas usually the foreign teachers don't do any of the homework grading; that's all done by the KTs. I love it. I wish I could grade essays all day. OK, well maybe not all day.

Anyway, this week they had to write about a place, any place, where you use numbers, and a couple chose restaurants. Note, there is a distinction made here between your average, Korean, cheap eating establishment (shiktang) and the nicer, often Western, always pricier restaurants (the borrowed word re-suh-tur-ang). Here is eleven-year-old Tom's composition:

The restaurants is very expensive food but it is very delicious food. Many people visit restaurants. The famous foods are steak and dessert. People visit restaurants in week very much. I think rich people always go to restaurants. America people eat restaurant food so they are fat but Linda teacher is thin. I think Linda teacher is a famous people for a boy. Restaurant food is delicious but I don't eat it very much. If eat much you will get fat. Steak eat all right, but don't eat very much I think. The End

I was so taken aback to see myself mentioned in the essay that I laughed out loud there at my desk in the staff room. Then upon further consideration of the "Linda teacher is a famous people for a boy" line, I realized he is not using the word "famous" as we know it. I think he thinks it means more like "great," and when I looked back at the beginning, that made sense with the steak/dessert line, too. And it dawned on me that he might be saying I'd be a good catch for some guy. Oh my goodness, I thought. Could an adolescent boy actually have a crush on me? I am not sure, but it suddenly made a great deal of sense. He does behave in that feisty-but-just-trying-to-show-off kind of way in was such a bizarre notion. Oh my, work is so amusing. Ever so amusing.

And speaking of work, I need to go sleep because tomorrow is another day. I have a cough and sore throat, so bad that I even cut short my weekend in Seoul and came home to Daegu early just wanting to sleep, but I (rejoice!) have Faquil to chug before going to sleep--thanks Mom! I have sure received some fantastic mail and packages of late. Let me just state for the record, if I haven't done so enough, that you people who send me things are my heroes. Getting mail is the highlight of the day. And this week there was awesome Amy's food package, which included a sea of pop tarts that made my British co-worker a bit jealous. So go read Amy's blog -- that's the Crazy Mokes link to the left, there -- because she rocks!


jnap said...


It makes sense that some adolescent boy might have a crush on you.... Interesting.

Glad you are enjoying the job.


Catherine_G said...

SO MUCH LOVE for young Tom's composition! SO. MUCH. LOVE. "If eat much you will get fat" will be on the next shirt I have made, or the new title of The Great American Novel I Have Yet To Write. Thanks for sharing that lovely piece with us.

And I'll...sniff...try to not take offense at the non-mention of the Eclipse gum sent to you by me - MEE! sniffle ;)

linda said...

Catherine! Chica! Have I really not mentioned your Eclipse gum package in the blog before? Really? Like, totally ages ago? Hey everyone, Catherine's Eclipse gum package was fantastic! Everybody who's anybody knows that!

Catherine_G said...

HA! So funny.

I shall go to a delicious restaurant, eat a famous steak and dessert and think of you and your charge.

And I concur with young Tom: Linda teacher, you would be a very famous person for a boy. :)