Wednesday, July 14, 2004

I burned my hair today and had to cut it off. Apparently a Canadian curling iron plugged into a 220v electrical system just gets twice as hot. Who knew? The sizzling sound that occurred as soon as the barrel touched my hair was accompanied by large amounts of smoke. I am sad to say that the frizzled mess that remained could not be saved.
Here is something I learned today: Koreans don't count their age the same way we do. When they are born they are 1 year old. I couldn't figure it out, because all of my kids look younger than they say they are. Eventually someone explained to me that they are actually one year younger by North American standards. See, this is why traveling is so great. I had no idea that Asians did that! Now I do. Such is life.
Things at the school are progressing quickly. I am getting used to teaching, although the pace still blows me away. We have about 90 students each and between six and eight classes a day. Each class is 40 minutes. We are expected to cover about four or five contents in each call and so we teach at break-neck speed. The Korean teachers (who for the first week are observing our classes and acting as translators) do the most annoying things, like counting 5-4-3-2-1 for every little thing I ask the kids to do. The weird part is, there is no consequence if the the teacher gets to one and nothing has happened, she just starts again. Weird. There is a lot of chanting and repetition going on but I can't shake the feeling that the kids are not learning much English. If you ask them "How are you?" they will rattle off, "I am well thank you, and you?" like they have been speaking English all their lives. Ask them "How are you today?" and they stare at you with blank looks on their faces. It is going to be hard not get frustrated because the school doesn't want us to stop and make sure everyone understands, they want the kids to memorize the words and spit them out again in a passable accent. I guess it's not that different from public school back home.


Suzanne said...

They've changed the response from "I'm fine, thank you, and you?" ?? I'm dismayed. I thought if there was one thing in Asia that would never change, it would be that reply. Sigh.
If you really want to add to the confusion of class (once your Korean 'escorts' leave you alone), try teaching them "What's up?" "How's it going?" and "How's things?' and once they think they know the appropriate replies, fire all of them in quick succession and see if they get the answers right. Nothing's funnier than a kid looking confused and responding "Not bad' to "What's up?'. Even funnier if you point and laugh.

Ian Knox said...

Know what else is funny that you could try? Tell the kids that you're going to take them on a trip to Disney World, and then just drive around town for a while, finally ending up at a burned down old building. When they start to cry, tell them that god burned down Disney World. If they ask why, just say "probably because of something you did."