Week 4, Thursday

I had all of my precious adorable third graders today. The sub started off class which confused the students a little (and me but gotta roll with it, he’s my senior after all) as we normally start with a vowel sing along. I did get to interact more with them during his section as I walked around class and made the kids practice with me. One girl asked me a question in very fast Korean and I told her in 천천히 말해 주세요 “please speak more slowly”. She repeated and I understood! Poor girl wanted to know 오늘은 노래를 안해요? “teacher are we not singing today?”. Ugh my heart! Sorry girl, maybe next time!

F and V are not sounds that exist in Korean but I’m working with my young students! I did something today I never thought I’d use outside of my Chinese online classes: I made everyone stop, look at me, and bite their bottom lip. TwelVe. I exaggeratedly bit my lower lip to emphasize V. It worked and their pronunciation improved immediately. Wow I love having test subjects I mean students for my linguistic hypotheses.

Nearly all my students have good pronunciation already and I’m more focused on inspiring confidence in speaking than strict correction like with my online Chinese students (Chinese parents are paying for accuracy).

There’s a boy in 3-3 who is so cute and looks like my brother as well as having the same nervous eye tick. During the sub’s portion of class he turned to me a few times and said “teacher I have a question… Is this right?” My HEART. He was a bit nervous to play one of our games in the front of class so when he finished I couldn’t help but pat him on the shoulder and tell him he did a good job.

One of the other students looked back at me during the sub’s portion (I usually walk around and monitor/engage the students or pace the back if he’s presenting). She caught my eye as he was talking so I mouthed the answer for her. Understanding lit up her face and she turned back to the teacher to answer the question. Secret little moments like this are my favorite, just like yesterday when one boy told me the classroom was hot so I turned on the fan and then he threw me a thumbs up.

3-1 must have heard about our impromptu jumping game a few weeks back from 3-3 and insisted that I also hold my hand out for them to jump to, so I found myself once again in a mosh pit of kids. A very adorable mosh pit. My coteacher later said “I think you must really love kids”.

I was also reminded today that if my hand is in the vicinity of a female student, say if I point at something on her shirt, the girls will immediately hold it. True for any grade. One of the grade 3 girls in a cute yellow cardigan caught my hand. To her left she was holding another classmate’s hand and I felt very included in third grade affection, or secret witchcraft.

The girls also patiently reviewed Korean colors for me. I told this to my classmate tonight and he observed that kids are eager to teach adults. Ten year olds are the best teachers of all.

When I have noticed that some of the students may have had a harder time with the lesson, I make sure to stand by the door and tell everyone bye and good job as they’re leaving. I know personally that sometimes all you need is one person to look you in the eyes and tell you “you did well” to feel better.

My coteacher looked at me today at lunch and said “when are you teaching me makeup” and now I’m actually scheduled to give her a “makeover” tomorrow afternoon. I invited the male music teacher too, but I think he’s probably a no go.

It occurred to me on the bus today that my Korean listening is now good enough to understand the bus and metro announcements without having to also read the computer screen. Still not good enough to understand most of what my coworkers say. But the part time guitar teacher and I are now friends so I have an ally on Mondays and Wednesdays during lunch. Or like I think we’re friends, I bought his friendship with a snack and later he sat next to me at lunch:

Me: What did you do during Chuseok?
Him: I just ate food with my family and looked at the moon. Here, look at this picture of the moon I took.
Me: uh cool
(It took me a full day to realize the reason he photographed the moon is because Chuseok is the LUNAR NEW YEAR. Send help, I am dumb)

And to end on a riddle:

Today I learned the usual counting numbers don’t apply when you say “four seasons”… because.

Normally:
(Item + ) Korean number + counter = # items
Example: student + Korean number 2 + people counter = 2 students

So you’d think
Korean number 4 + seasons = 4 seasons. Nope!
You must say
Chinese number 4 + seasons = 4 seasons.

Understand my suffering:
Chinese number 3+”month” = March
Korean number 3 + “month (different word)” = 3 months
Chinese number 3 + “year” + ago = 3 years ago
Korean number + “year (different word)” + ago = when I was 3 *
*learned this in context just today when I tried to tell my coteacher that “I met them 7 years ago” but she thought “I met them when I was seven” she said wow, you really knew each other for a long time!

Still forever grateful to all my Koreans tall and small for patiently answering my questions.

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