Week 8, Wednesday

Fourth grade was loud as usual but I’m finding more every day that I don’t want to yell over them or wait for them to quiet down, especially seeing how well behaved third and fifth grade have become. S told me during lunch that her throat hurt from having to talk over the class.

Favorite part of fourth grade today though was stopping the class and correcting pronunciation of short vowels I/e/a. I made the short E sound and asked the class what letter they though it represented. S said “A”; I didn’t want to correct her in front of the class but when I quietly pointed it out she she made a funny little drama about it. Told me this week that she likes English but she doesn’t feel confident enough to teach it. We talked about how a lot of improvements could be made if each school selected a single English-specialized teacher instead of selecting teachers every year at random who may or may not have high English proficiency.

I worked with all the classes to look at how our mouth shapes differ for these three short vowels since Koreans have a hard time distinguishing them. It’s actually the same exercise I’ve done with Chinese students in the past and worked really well. I noticed almost immediate improvement in their pronunciation and was very happy. I also heard them pronouncing SH words with an extra Y syllable: don’t pushY, pick up the trashY. To combat this I had them practice extending the SH sound so they had no opportunity to add the extraneous syllable. This also helped them!

The school talent show is next week and I will be helping out with the guitar and cello classes (strong girl and company play cello so I’m excited to hang out with them). Some students came by today to drop off my official badge and even though my name is misspelled* I really appreciate being included.

During a break Tank Boy was excited to show me his raincoat by running water over his sleeve so naturally I feigned interest then turned his arm up so water flowed into his sleeve. [insert I Am Twelve gif] Weak boy is always trying SO HARD to communicate in English and I love him for that. He and strong girl don’t have much vocabulary but I can see them furiously searching their lexical dictionary.

Nick Jr passed me en route to lunch and spoke to me in English and ahhhh ♥️♥️♥️ yesterday he and another student did get held after class for arguing but I have a little soft spot for him and he often looks to me in class. Maybe I remind him of someone, too.

As I was leaving I saw two of my more… rambunctious fourth grade students. From afar I heard HELLO ABIGAIL TEACHER (pretty significant because in class this student purposefully calls me the previous teacher’s name to see if it gets a rise out of me). I asked if they were going home and they pointed to a fence.
“Is that where your home is?”
They meant the playground.
“Do you think I live on the playground??”
“I don’t know, maybe, anything is possible.”

(This is all approximate as our conversation was somewhere between Korean and English and gestures)

I’m committed to a better sleep schedule so I’m out.

*The biblical name of Abigail is often written as 아비가일 which is almost identical in pronunciation to the Spanish “Abigail”.

Korean has two letters to represent short E: ㅔㅐ. In the past these were different sounds but in modern pronunciation they are the same. As a result I can choose to spell my name several ways. I found the way that is most similar to American pronunciation is ah-bee-gel. Because there is a way to spell my name closer to how I actually say it, I chose not to use the historical spelling. After a lot of debate I chose to spell my name as 아비갤.

How did I choose ㅐ over ㅔ? Well I actually think ㅔ is prettier but the “gㅔㅣ” syllable block means “gel” and I wasn’t a fan. And in a weirdly poetic coincidence using the other ㅐ as in “gㅐl” actually means “gale (strong wind)”.

When I got my badge, it was spelled: 아비겔. Which is the equivalent of someone writing “Abigale”. But I don’t have my Korean name on any of the school documents so that’s not their mistake. I’ve since updated my email display name.

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