I received a special gift from one of my fourth grade girls. After 4-1 (don’t tell the other fourth grade classes but they’re my favorite) three class comedians stayed after to sweep. One is a carbon copy of Seungkwan from SEVENTEEN. The three boys chatted with me in Korean about our favorite Korean foods. They were incredibly patient with me and so so cute. In another class the kids figured out very quickly that I spoke Korean and one little boy has ESL down pat because he asked in Korean “do you speak Korean?” And made a little talking hand gesture at the verb “speak”.
Earlier this week I left a note and box of candy in the teacher’s lounge. Someone made a copy of my note and distributed the copies along with small bags of candy to all the teachers. I’ve been told my handwriting is “better than a sixth grader” so… there’s that. I keep trying to explain to the adults that I completed level one out of six and am in no way fluent but they keep at me with native Korean and give up when I don’t understand. I think my kids understand my Korean level better than the adults.
There were also some tears from a girl and several boys during class 4-2 from goading and fighting and general dramatics. My co-teacher kept the boys after class to quietly scold them and they both ended up crying. This is mean but I was highly amused. It is so cute how sincere they are at that age! One of the boys came back in the middle of the next class to bow deeply to the teacher and tell her that he was sorry.
In class 4-3 the kids were confused by my American tallying style (four lines and a diagonal). They asked the Korean teacher in Korean about it and I answered them by drawing all five marks. The class flipped out that I understood what they were asking and I heard of a chorus of “신기하다” (wow/amazing).
I’m trying to strike the right balance between English practice and Korean. But a lot of my younger students are really low level so I figure I can establish a relationship with them in Korean so they feel more comfortable in class with English. If I didn’t speak any Korean at school my conversations would stop at “hello hi let’s play soccer” which is no way to get to know someone.
I actually ended up leaving a few minutes late today but I haven’t felt any lethargy after work. Of course I stopped by a local thrift shop on my way home and ended up buying several new items. The woman in the shop asked me if I live around here and I said that I work around here so hopefully I’ve made a friend at whom I can wave every evening.
Once things are stable I’m going to find a new Korean school— mostly because I need to up my eavesdropping game.