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27 September 2003
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Korea Life Blog - At the Hagwon (3)

It was another exciting week at the Hagwon. It is good and bad that I only teach each class one time during the week. The good side is that I can use the same lesson every time and do whatever I want. Nobody watches me or cares. The kids mostly like me so the boss is happy. I'm not really expected to teach English, I think. I'm just expected to look like a foreigner and make the kids laugh. The bad side is that I've become utterly lazy. How I ever made it a year at my previous school in Ulsan, is beyond me. There I taught 6-8 classes per day, each class 2-3 times a week. Each class had well over 10 students and they were off the walls and my boss made me use a stick to discipline them. Everyday I dreaded that place. After work, I would go to the health club and pump iron to work off the stress (the only good thing that came from it) then go home and down a bottle of soju and maybe a few beers besides (a really awful thing that came from it). I wish I had started my blog back then. I have a lot of stories about that time. The only reason I stayed there was because my boss paid me 550,000 Won every Friday after class and paid all my bills. Also, I had already quit 2 other jobs, and so he had to pay a chunky bribe to get me the visa. Anyway, now I have a great job, albeit not without pitfalls - the biggest being that I live in Nowhere-dong where it's quiet and peaceful, yet very boring. As I've said, though, I only teach 3-5 classes/day, there are less than 8 students in each class, sometimes as few as 3, and they are all pretty good kids. I don't have to discipline them, thank God. They are actually really cute and innocent kids out here (I took a bunch of pics of them yesterday and will post them soon). However, because of the set-up, it's impossible to make progress with the kids as far as them learning English. There is no coordination between what the Korean teachers are doing and what I do. And by the end of the week, I'm pretty sick of the lesson I started with on Monday.

This week's lesson: what do you do in the morning? I start the week fresh and ready. I spend the first half of each class teaching the sentences and making the kids actually speak. They ask each other the question and give answers. I comedically (hey, wow, I invented this word just now) enact the various morning rituals and make the kids laugh to the point of tears. They copy the sentences into their notebooks only one time. Then I give them this handout:

Yes, it's time to draw again, kids. But since I actually taught you for awhile, there isn't much time. So I tell them to draw Jorla-man, stick figures. This is one of the best and most creative examples. All the scenes are pretty funny.

As the week goes on I spend less time teaching each class and more time making them write and draw while I read. Since there's more time, they can color. "Get up" is funny. I'm not sure if he is able to get up after the fall. "Take a shower" is cute. Drawing stars around the boy's clothes is pretty creative. Also I love his breakfast: chicken, fish carcass, rice, and green penis? soup. Mmm....

This one is also pretty funny. They often think "get dressed" means to wear a dress, which is a little embarrassing for the boys. After he puts on his dress, he takes another shower then gets "dressed" again. Mmm, more fish for breakfast then off to school still wearing his dress....hahahah.

This is another one of my favorites. I'm considering hanging all of these on my wall (I need better decorations than a photograph of three cows). The shower scene is pretty funny. I also like "get dressed" - very creative. His face when he's brushing his hair is cute and note his attention to detail: he's even drawn decorations on his shirts.

By Friday I no longer care about teaching. I walk into each class, write the sentences on the board with the Korean translation so they don't bother me, make them copy it into their notebooks 5 times, give them the handout without any instructions, then sit down and read the newspaper. Needless to say, my students on Friday don't really like me much. I thought I should throw in an example drawn by a girl. I drew the arrow in there between "eat breakfast" and "brush my hair" before I took the pic. By the way, I'm not sure what's actually going on there at the breakfast table but it made me laugh.


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