Tag Archives: ESL

Teaching from the Bottom of the Totem Pole #5: Story Time

27 Apr

At the begining of the semester my school (along with almost all other Korean public elementary schools) received new English textbooks. Most of the material remained the same from last semester (aside from the characters receiving much needed make-overs), but for the fifth and sixth graders more material was added to each chapter to accommodate for a third English lesson per week (last semester students attended only two lessons per week). Instead of the usual four sections per chapter, there is now six.

One of the new sections is “Story Time”–short and simple tales that are in no way related to the topic of the chapter, but somehow contain ESL value.

Even though I hadn’t actually looked at the stories in each chapter I figured Story Time would be a worthwhile addition to the lessons. My thinking was that it could provide the students with more opportunities to work with the language in a textbook that, like it’s predecessor, has its fair share of grammatical errors, awkward dialogs and chants that–while sometimes catchy–often contain little more than inordinate sounds mixed in with key sentences from the chapter (the first verse of a chant we sang last week literally contained the “words” “wah doo warry warry wah, wah, wah”).

Unfortunately, Story Time has ultimately failed to impress as an addition to the curriculum.

Why?

Let’s take a look at the Story Time from the fifth grade text. It’s entitled “Who Am I.”

Chapter 1:

So we have Hamin and her happy family enjoying some quality time. Fair enough. As is the normal routine, I ask questions to the students about what they see in the picture  before finally reading it to them and asking follow-up questions to check for comprehension. Obviously in this case one of the follow up questions would involve having the students guess what (or “who”) the particular object is. Not a bad framework, but why not make the clues a little less vague?”Hamin likes me very much… I am with her family all the time.” Hell, that could be anything. One of my students guessed it was the stuffed bunny on the shelf (SPOILER ALERT: it’s the TV).

Maybe some additional clues are needed in the story. If nothing else, it would at least make it more interesting. The vagueness of it all made me think more in depth about Hamin’s family which raised several questions related to the Hamin’s family, assuming she’s Korean. Bear with me.

First of all, why is Hamin and her family spending all their time with the damn television? Shouldn’t they be out enjoying all the community has to offer; visiting on of Korea’s many festivals. Does this story take place on the weekend? Shouldn’t Hamin being doing homework or attending one of several Hagwons? Instead of watching TV, shouldn’t Hamin’s parents be teaching her the value of studying hard so she can become an important figure in Korean society, like a doctor or a foreign diplomat? I wonder how good her English is.

But Maybe I’m over thinking this a bit. While my students weren’t extremely interested in the story, they were eventually able to guess what the object was, which provided a minimal sense of achievement on my part, and even though it was boring, it still managed to eat up a reasonable amount of time. It’s not perfect, but I’m still willing to give Story Time another shot.

Chapter 2:

Here, we have Hamin watching television with her dad. They are so entrenched in the show they’re watching they can’t even stop to use the bathroom or even notice Hamin’s mom standing in the corner.

Before I can begin with preliminary questions about the what the students see in the picture, a boy in the second row raises his hand a frustratingly tells me “It’s TV again!” Shit. It’s only the second installment of Story Time and they’re already bored with it. I don’t blame them. Why the the hell should they care about anything else in the story when they’ve already solved the riddle? It’s not like the story contains a lot of depth, and it’s not even realistic.

I refuse to believe that at eight o’clock Hamin and her dad are already dressed for bed in their pajamas. Again, assuming this story takes place during the week (and really, even if it doesn’t), Hamin’s dad would be out eating kalbi and pounding soju with his work buddies and Hamin would be slaving away at some after school academy.

The story leads us to believe Hamin’s mother is concerned about the health of her eyes (and apparently her English language ability) and this is why she doesn’t want her watching too much television, but then we pan to the bottom of the page and see that she only wants Hamin away from the tube so she can indulge in her soap operas. She assumes Hamin is in her room preparing for mid-term exams, but really Hamin has cast her textbooks aside and is instead kicking ass in game of Starcraft on her computer.

During the lesson I try to remain enthusiastic and stretch to stretch the time by asking redundant questions:

“What does Hamin’s Mom do a lot of?”
“What is she doing while she drinks her tea?”
“What does Hamin and her dad do all the time.”

Sadly, I think the kids sense the feebleness of my efforts and completely shut down. This time the Story Time segment barely lasts 10 minutes.

My co-teacher and I discuss plans for the next Story Time and decide we should use different stories of our choosing and scrap the ones from the book. Or at least I thought she wanted to scrap the ones from the book.

When the  Story Time for chapter three rolls around it is decided that I will still teach the story from the book, but my co-teacher will teach a different story.  I’m nervous because I don’t want my students to turn on me for dragging them through another account of a day in the life of Hamin, but am pleased that I don’t have to make it last more than a five or six minutes. As I ask my student to open their book to the Story Time page, I met groans of disgust. Again, I don’t blame them.

Chapter 3:

At this point My Kids couldn’t care less about Hamin or any of her family members. They don’t give a a shit about her stupid music shows, or why her mom is crying or what the hell that round thing is near the leg of the coffee table. The story doesn’t provide any information in the form of a hint or clue about “Who” the object is, but this doesn’t matter because they figured out a long time ago that it’s the fucking television. They hate me for putting them through another Story Time and I hate myself for having to do it. Even worse, after I finish the story my teacher swoops in brandishing a colorful Eric Carl story book put to video.  I quickly try to make some funny dance motions to go along with the story (and in turn reclaim my title of “fun teacher”), but it’s too late. I’ve lost them. I cower in the corner and wait for lunch time.

We haven’t made it to the Story Time for chapter four yet, but I’m praying my co-teacher will have mercy on the students and I and not put us through it. In the fourth and final installment of “Who am I” the “who” is formally revealed using sub par grammar and all is right in Hamin’s house:

I’d like to think it could be worse, but I doubt it.

Ciao,

Kimchi Dreadlocks

Friday Collision

4 Apr

I’m in the middle of my third period fifth grade class, partially pretending to check some of my students’ review assignments and partially day dreaming about what I will do after I get off of work. For the first time in months, all the windows in the classroom are open and I’m not royally pissed about it. The midday weather is gorgeous and the breeze that’s coming in isn’t freezing for once.

As I’m still daydreaming, my co-teacher begins to explain the art project we will be working on for the remainder of class and I poke my head out the window just in time to notice a bus jump the curb and smash into a light post on the street in front of the school. I’m so surprised that the words “holy fuck” almost slip from my lips.

After the kids begin working on their projects I tell my co-teacher about the accident and we both stare out the window at the scene trying to dissect what happened. The light pole that the bus ran into is completely bent sideways and resting in the branches of a nearby cherry blossom tree

“I didn’t see any other vehicle hit the bus before it crashed into the pole.”
“Maybe the driver was drunk.”
“I wonder if something malfunctioned on the bus.”
“He was probably talking on his handphone.”

She returns to her desk and starts explaining the next instructions for the art project to the kids while at the same time grabbing for her camera and motioning for me to gt some shots of the action unfolding outside. By now an ambulance, two squad cars and another bus have arrived. The passengers are taken away while the driver stays to talk with the police.

It’s exciting because this is the second time this week (and really since I’ve been in Korea) that I’m seeing police doing actual police work.

Last Tuesday while out for dinner with some friends, I saw the police arresting what looked like a drunken teenager after he had crashed his fancy Hyundai into another car. They even had him handcuffed. I didn’t even know Koren cops carried handcuffs. Actually, up until then I didn’t think Korean cops did much beyond walking down the block in droves of 10-15 men intimidating everyone in their path (ajummas and grade schoolers included).

I snap a few shots of the accident and chuckle at how excited my co-teacher is about it, despite the horrible picture quality.  Neither of us really cared if anyone was hurt in the collision. It seems we were both open to any and all distractions to help get through our Friday classes. Do I dare say that we actually bonded over someone else’s misfortune?

At lunch she tells me that she posted the photos I took of the crash (I have no clue where) and that most of the people who looked at them were worried that someone might have gotten injured.

“Am I a crazy person for not caring?” she asks.

I grin and shake my head.

Like me,  she’s not crazy; just generally interested in other peoples’ fuck-ups.

Ciao,

Kimchi Dreadlocks

Right of Passage

30 Mar

*I got yelled at for not posting for more than three weeks and it turned out to be just what I needed to get back to writing. Not that I ever stopped. I’ve just been lazy.

Before last week I must admit that as a native english teacher in Korea, I was feeling a little left out. Since the start of my contract it seems two important events for ESL teachers had evaded me. I had yet to consume raw seafood with my Korean co-workers and I still hadn’t done a round at the Noraebang with them.

For whatever reason this has become somewhat of a ritual for EPIK teachers. Koreans do it all the time, but for your standard english speaking slave, it’s damn near considered of a right of passage. Similar to when teenage boys in Africa would wonder into wild to catch and kill a lion before they could be presented as men to their village (only without the pain of getting circumcised). It doesn’t necessarily move you up any notches on the teaching totem pole, but it is something that at least leaves you feeling like you’ve accomplished something–that is, if you don’t already regularly consume questionable raw fish while getting plastered and singing along to songs you normally would only attempt in the shower.

The Monday before my Korean christening my co-teacher informs me that we will be having a staff dinner the following Wednesday. Not that I had anything planned that evening to begin with, but I was happy to be finding out about it two days in advanced. I had almost gotten used to being told about things at the very last minute. I was even more excited to learn that we would be going to a raw seafood restaurant–so excited that I contemplated wearing a tie for the occasion. My thinking was that if I was going to be digesting anything that might still be moving on my plate (specifically squid and octopus), I at least wanted to be dressed for success (turns out there would be no wriggling fish; just the kind that lays there dead).

We promptly take off for the restaurant after playing a few games of volleyball (more on that later) and arrive to a coloful spread of the usual Korean side dishes accompanied by a varied assortment of fish that I probably couldn’t name even if they were swimming beside me, let alone chopped up and neatly laid out on a plate in front of me.  My co-teacher begins to explain to me some of the different choices, but I struggle to listen because I’m too busy trying to decide what to smaple first.

I start to dig in with an open mind all the while assuming there will be something on the table that will have me clutching a toilet later in the evening, but am surprised at how much I enjoy most of the spread (the mid-meal porridge failed to impress).  Just when I think I have sampled everything, my co-teacher points her chopsticks toward a few slabs of light grey meat and tells me it’s whale. I’m told I should dip it in a mixture of salt and chili powder before indulging. Having no preconceived notion of what whale might taste like, it instantly becomes my favorite of everything on the table. With a a texture that I would describe as being somewhere in between that of pastrami and cow tongue I begin thinking of what whale meat might taste like as a sandwich. No cheese, no lettuce. Just some mayo and maybe some dijon mustard, and grilled. I haven’t found out how I can make this dream a reality, but before I leave Korea, it has to happen.

As with any staff dinner, there’s plenty of soju involved and I do my best to keep up with the other males of the school, a few of which are recent additions and whom wanted to slam a couple shots down with the crazy haired waygook. This always amazes me. During school hours I might only get a quick wave and an “anyeong” in passing, but in the context our staff dinners they’re all about coming over to my table and making small talk–usually with my co-teacher doing light translating. It seems the atmosphere of dinner (combined with several shots of the green bottled monster) gives them just the confidence they need to use whatever english they may or may not know and attempt a conversation with me. I love it.

After dinner I plan to make a dash for downtown where I’m suppose to meet a friend for a beer when I’m immediately told that the next stop will be at a nearby noraebang. Before you know it, I’m crammed into a small room with a flat screen TV, a couple of microphones, and around fifteen of the school’s staff (vice principal and co-teachers included) as well as enough liquid courage to make sure even the shyest among us would bust out a tune. Of course I’m among the first elected to sing.

Not having that much time to pick a song, I decide to make my mom proud and select Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.” I know all the words and have sang it drunk more than a few times so it seemed a fitting choice. It was either that or Michael Jackson’s “Off The Wall” which I couldn’t find anywhere in the selection book. I completely murder the song but recieve a warm applause for my efforts. At some point in the night I’m invited to sing a song with the vice principal. I don’t know the song he selects, but I nonethess sling my arm around his shoulder and do my best to be a worthy back-up singer. When I wasn’t singing I was drinking beer and playing the tambourine of beat. Like I said, I was trying to make my mother proud.

Towards the end of the night, as I’m watching my co-workers plow through the playlist, I sit back on the couch, beer in hand, and have what I often refer to as a “Korea moment”–a small subtle slice of time where I once again remember that I actually live in Korea. It’s not necessarily some euphoric moment where the sound fades and you lose yourself  in the crevices of your own thoughts ( as far as I’m concerned that shit only happens in movies and during traumatic events), but I remember feeling like I had all of a sudden reached a new plateau of success in the R.O.K. I still can’t sing for shit, I’m still at the bottom of the teaching totem-pole and soju still makes my breath smell like a sack full of assholes, but somehow in a single night, my life was made better by raw whale meat and karaoke. Life is sweet, my friends.

Ciao,

Kimchi Dreadlocks

Teaching from the Bottom of the Totem Pole #4: 6 Months Down (6 More to Go)

3 Mar

Yesterday was the official start of the new school semester and the (unofficial) halfway point of my one-year contract.

I’ve been here 6 months. How do I feel about it?

The end of last semester was fairly  confusing, to say the least. My sixth graders took off for middle school and while there was a big ceremony commemorating their time elementary schoolers, many of the teachers seemed to take it pretty lightly. I brought a camera to possibly take some photos with some of my students before their departure and hoped to shake their hands and wish them good luck. Instead they were promptly marched out of the auditorium and out of the school to the sound of applause and cheering from their families and fellow classmates. As far as I could tell, most of the other teachers in the school went back to their rooms or to the teachers’ office to finish out the rest of the day. I took no pictures, shook no hands and congratulated no one. The ceremony, it seems, was mainly for the students’ families. Not that I have any problems with this, but I would’ve thought that many of the teachers would be little sad to see their students go. I certainly wasn’t shedding any tears on the matter, but over the course of six months I have developed a fondness for my students and admittedly (cue the violins) was somewhat sad at their rapid departure.

It then dawned on me that in Korea teachers and administrators move from school to school quite frequently and are very used to these sudden changes. They come and go almost as much as the students so when it’s time to move on, the goodbyes are short and everyone continues on with their assigned tasks. Sorry Mr. Dreadlocks. There is no time to dwell on your previous kids. We must prepare for the new semester.

As is the norm, change brings about confusion and this situation is no different. New textbooks are being used (though much of the material is the same), I have a new co-teacher (my former one moved to a new school), and my schedule has been jostled a bit. Surprisingly I’m taking it all well. If the past 6 months have taught me anything, it’s that in Korea it’s best to roll with the changes and (as much as you can help it) let the stress fall by the wayside. To do anything else might drive you into a state of depression.

A few thoughts about my first six in the classroom:

–Getting used to my completely illogical teaching schedule didn’t take as long as I expected, but I still have problems understanding how they came up with it. Why am I only seeing my third and fourth graders once every other week?

–Classroom rewards can be useful to foster participation, but they’re a pain in the ass to manage. I’ve written about this before.

–What is the benefit of placing special education students into my classes if I’m expected to completely ignore them? Everything about this seems unethical. *Chris (now gone from Korea) over at Kimchi with Eish wrote a good post on this a while back.

–Playing soccer with the students outside beats desk warming any day of the week.

–Instant coffee isn’t so bad…especially when it’s all you got. I just close my eyes and pretend it’s hot chocolate.

–I never expected to be told that I look like a “strong African warrior” during my time in Korea; let alone be told by someone at my school. Truly, the assistant principal is my homeboy.

–Soju hangovers will not improve your teaching ability, but it will make your breath smell like the inside of a Korean squatter toilet. Never again.

–Teaching my students how to beat-box and pop-lock (in addition to teaching a few hip handshakes) are some of the best ideas I’ve ever had.

–Simply put, the old textbooks were horrible and the new ones show little promise of being any better.

–Dong-Chim was created by satan.

All jokes aside though, the first half of my teaching contract hasn’t always been a breeze, but I have thoroughly enjoyed it and am looking forward to another six months of last minute staff dinners, desk warming and perky Korean students throwing up the peace sign as I pass them in the hallways.

Ciao,

Kimchi Dreadlocks

* On a side note, welcome to all the new EPIK teachers who just started. Words of wisdom for the “newbies” in Busan: KSU on Saturday nights can be bad for your health. See you there.

Korean What-the-Fuckery on the Bus

15 Feb

I often visit a blog call What the Kimchi??? On it, Flint does a series entitled “Mook of the Week” where he details some of the crazy shit that he notices Koreans doing.

Many of these posts are incredibly funny, and while I have no intentions of starting a similar series on this blog, I experienced something last week that reminded me of the Korean what-the-fuckery I often read about on What the Kimchi???

Everyday after work I hop on a tiny bus that weaves its way down a mountain on narrow streets packed with parked cars. . I often marvel at how drivers moving in opposite directions negotiate who gets the right away when there’s not enough room on the road for both vehicles to pass simultaneously.

Normally the right to pass is given to the bigger vehicle while the smaller one waits its turn off to the side of the street. For the most part this system works well, and even during rush hour, traffic seems to move along at a steady pace. On this particular day however, we were met with a road hog that decided to fuck up my plans of getting home in a timely manner.

As the bus I’m riding makes it’s way down a steep incline a van approaches from the opposite direction and  instead of turning off into a nearby driveway to let the bus pass, this bastard decides to speed up and stop right in front of us while motioning for the bus to back up and let him through. At this point I take a look out the back window and notice the bus would have to reverse back to the top of the hill into the middle of an intersection in order to let the asshole get by. It made much more sense for the van to back up and turn off into the driveway that was all of ten feet from his rear bumper.

Instead, a 45-second stare down ensues with both drivers motioning at the other to back up and neither vehicle moves an inch. I begin to get frustrated and search the faces of my Korean co-passengers hoping I wasn’t the only one. Surprisingly, no one seems to give a damn.

The driver of the van then hops out, approaches the bus and begins arguing with the bus driver, each man motioning for the other to back up and let him by.

I haven’t the slightest idea what was said but I imagine it went a bit like this:

Van Driver: Why aren’t you moving out of the way?

Bus Driver: Because I was here first. Why don’t you move?

Van Driver: There’s no way that I should have to move. Sure, it’s much easier for me to back my van up a few meters and let you pass, and clearly this would be more logical than you backing your bus up a hill into an intersection, but I was here first and as such, should be awarded the right to pass first.

Bus Driver: Wait, can you explain all that again. I have passengers that need to be somewhere and I’m pretty sure they want to sit here longer while we argue about which one of us should let the other pass. They enjoy watching two grown men act like complete jackasses.

Van Driver: Fine. I’ll just return to my van and stare at you some more through my windshield hoping you and your bus mysteriously vanishes from the road.

The van driver then returns to his vehicle and does just that.

I again look around at the other passengers hoping to find at least one person who shares my growing frustration (In hindsight I think I secretly hopped a gangster ajumma would come to my rescue, going upside the stubborn van driver’s head with a bag of freshly bought bean sprouts. Alas, this is an imperfect world).

After another minute-long stare down, it’s now the bus driver’s turn at an attempt to exert his will. He climbs out and approaches the van, and once more, an argument kicks off, this time with more arm flailing and gesturing. Another minute or two passes (I would have been home by now had I chose to walk) and he returns to the bus swearing (I’m assuming they were swear words) under his breath. He then calmly takes off his sunglasses, wipes them clean and places them back on his face. I got the feeling a curbside brawl was approaching (which I no doubt would have stuck around for) or maybet a game of “chicken.”

The van driver, meanwhile, is wildly pounding his steering wheel and screaming out his window at the the equally stubborn bus driver. I finally decide to get up and walk the rest of the way home when the van begins to creep backwards. What should’ve been a simple 90 degree back-in to the driveway turns into a five-move NASA space shuttle manuver that nearly clips the side mirror off a parked Hyundai.

As the bus finally pulls forward and continues along it’s route I contemplate standing up and applauding but this would have been pointless. I was the only one on the bus who even remotely cared that we were finally on our way. Everyone else was too busy staring at their cell phone screens or otherwise not giving a fuck about what was going on around them.

Why?

Because I live in Korea.

Ciao,

Kimchi Dreadlocks

Rewards

18 Jan

For the past week and a half I have been entrenched in Winter English camp. To say the least, it hasn’t been quite what I expected. True, I only have nine students (a godsend considering I have upwards of 3o in my normal classes) and most of them are fairly high level, but thus far during winter camp I have noticed something that seems to have slipped under my annoyance radar until now.

My winter camp students are extremely obsessed with receiving rewards for every tiny task they perform–almost to the point where I can’t get them to do anything without promising payment in the form of candy, or some type of token that can eventually be redeemed for a prize.

I’m not a complete rube.  I understand very well that for many teachers, offering rewards is an easy way to get students to participate in classroom activities, but when when it gets to the point where students are throwing tantrums  because they didn’t get a Chupa Chups sucker after answering a simple question, the system needs to be re-worked.

Earlier this week I had a student disrupt the entire class because I wouldn’t give him a paper dollar bill (used by my co-teacher and I during games and vocab drills) after he correctly guessed the topic of the day’s lesson.

He stands up, holds his hand out and says “Teacher, give me dollar! I right!” I tell him to have a seat and continue the lesson when he stomps his foot on the ground and again demands payment for his classroom efforts.  I almost slip and tell him “tough shit” before I decide to ignore him. Truthfully, I couldn’t give in to his demands even f I wanted to. I haven’t been teaching with my normal co-teacher this week and don’t have the keys to the stash drawer. Still, I’m not about to explain that to a third-grader. Is “good job” not sufficient enough?

Maybe I’m just bitter.

I remember when the only reward a kid got in school was a lousy gold star on some chart posted in the back of the classroom, a system I still feel is was rigged from the get go. For a full week of homework assignments handed in on time and perfect classroom compliance, you would get half of a star. After accumulating 30 or so stars, you’d get a “prize.”  Now, the prize might be anything from a  fancy eraser cut out in the shape of a heart to extra free time after lunch, but it didn’t matter. The stars could just as easily be taken away for misbehavior, which happened to me on a regular basis.

Here in Korea elementary students get rewards for everything short of breathing. Show up to class? You’ve earned a new pencil. Finished your homework? Have a piece of candy. Good job class. You all remembered to bring your notebooks to school! Ice cream for everyone! I’m beginning to feel like we’re just passing out treats to little puppies who have learned how to sit, lay down and stop pissing on the carpet.

I’m not at all against bestowing prizes when we’re playing classroom games or fostering healthy competition in some other way, but I can’t accept  the feeling that I’m somehow buying my students’ participation with goodies purchased at the local 1,000 Won store. These kids are going home with pockets full of candy and other treasures, speaking whole sentences of perfect English, without a clue of what they’re saying.

Maybe I’m exaggerating. and I’m sure not if all waygook English teachers employ bribe tactics, but it does seem like a popular trend and I remember several lecturers at the EPIK orientation mentioning how useful it is to offer treats to students who participate during lessons. I still have yet to see how this is more useful than encouragement and praise.

The way I see it, “teaching” and “training” are two totally different concepts. If you want to teach put in the effort don’t rely on candy currency. If you want to train, head to your nearest pet store and buy a parrot.

Ciao,

Kimchi Dreadlocks

English Camp Advice: This Might Hurt a Bit

29 Dec

Before my students took of for winter vacation I had little time to do anything besides planning my three-week winter English Camp.

It doesn’t officially begin until January third, so I’m forced to desk warm until then. As I write this post, I am one of maybe four staff members in the building, in addition to a handful of construction workers who seem to be doing little more than walking around speaking into walkie-talkies.

My instructions for the week?

Show up bright and early at my normal time, hang out at my desk for the day, and leave at four thirty. That’s it. It didn’t seem too bad at first, but then I realized there will also be no school lunch served, and the few staff members who do show up only come in for half the day, usually around noon.

Clearly I’m complaining but life’s not all bad. I found a space heater in the closet behind my desk and every couple of hours I go into the teachers lounge and grab some instant coffee. Because there’s almost no one else around I decide to take two packages instead of the customary single I usually slurp down after lunch.

When you’re  forced to warm a desk for eight hours, however, there is only so much Facebook and internet television one can take. I decide to spend some time fine tuning the lesson plans for my upcoming winter camp.

Anyone planning to teach in Korea through EPIK will almost surely have to at least two english camps during their contract; one in the winter and one in the summer. There are several ways this could play out. You may be lucky enough to have a co-teacher who not only teaches the entire camp with you, but plans it out as well (not likely). You may have to teach the camp by yourself with ready made lessons provided by your school. Or–as is my situation–you may be faced with the task of planning and teaching the lesson completely on your own with little notice in advance.

I’m responsible for about 40 hours worth of content over the course of two weeks, with a third week being planned by the conversation teacher. The topics to be covered are completely up to me so at first glance I was quite excited about the possiblilities: start out with a lesson on popular dance moves, spend a couple of days talking about the intricacies of American football, throw in some fancy coloring sheets and board games and finish up with a pizza party. Unfortunately this doesn’t quite cut it.

Naturally I freaked out and went back to the drawing board. With some helpful tips from other teachers in the area and the ESL savior that is waygook.org, I was able to piece together some good shit for my mixed class of 3rd and fourth graders. I’d be lying if I said it was a quick process. Even with working on it during my afternoon down-time, I still ended up putting together a lot of material at home, and I hated almost every second of it, but the finished product turned out alright. True, my students may end up completely hating it, but if it comes down to it, I know more than enough Michael Jackson songs by heart to keep the day at least halfway interesting.

What’s my point with all of this?

Simply that if you’re here to teach and given an English camp to plan out, suck it up and do your job. We’re already given ample opportunity to slack off and be lazy throughout the contract. Indeed, I’m no teaching expert and I’m as lazy as the next man when it comes to churning out real work, but even I can come up with better material than the crap we readily serve up from the textbooks each semester. Plus, this may be one of our last chances to showcase our skills before we’re forced out of a job by English teaching robots (a topic which I will rant about shortly) and faced with returning to our employment deprived home countries.

Think about it.

Ciao,

Kimchi Dreadlocks

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