30 September 2008

A Typical Day

This may be a little boring to some - a recounting of a typical day at work.  I'm writing it just because some of my relatives have requested such a thing several times.  Move along.

7:30 a.m. - Wake up and get ready for work.  It's Tuesday, so a teacher will pick me up to go to 븍.  If it were Monday, Wednesday, or Friday I would just meander on over to 쌍봉 on my own a half hour later.  Thursdays is the other branch school, 쌍암.

8:30 a.m. - Arrive at work after a short drive.  I pull my slippers out of my bag and put my outside shoes up on the rack at the front door.  Most people have cubbyholes, but I don't want to buy a pair of slippers for each school so I bring them with me.  Then I sit down to do whatever I want in the teacher's lounge.  I generally read, study Korean, or fool around on the net.

10:00 a.m. - Class with the third-graders.  At the branch schools, I follow their textbooks, so less preparation is required.  At 쌍봉, I write my own lesson plans based around one-sentence guiding suggestions for the curriculum (that I generally ignore).  Third grade and below do not learn to write, but they do learn English names for things by listening, and sometimes they learn to sight-recognize words.  For example, they will learn to recognize "mother," even if they can't spell it or piece out the letters.  Class lasts forty minutes, and then I have a half-hour break.

11:10 a.m. - Class with the fourth-graders.  These classes out at 븍 and 쌍암 have me teach the entire school each time I am there.  Fourth grade has only seven students, though, so it's no big chore.  They're all farmer's kids, but they are actually more advanced than at my bigger main school of 쌍봉 because of the tiny class size.  They get much more individual attention and breeze through lessons in half the time of a forty-student class.

Noon - Class with the fifth-graders.  They learn more complex things, such as subject-verb agreement and sentence composition.  Really, the level to which they are held is remarkable considering their youth and that it's a very difficult second language.  Of course, the dedication to the program helps a lot: they bring in people like me, for example, and start teaching the language in first grade.

12:40 p.m. - Lunchtime in the cafeteria.  I sit with the other teachers and eat the surprisingly great cafeteria food.  We chat and they teach me bits of Korean; my Tuesdays always net me a bulk of my new words each week, since they are so enthusiastic about helping me.  I have taken to carrying a pen and notepad with me everywhere I go these days, which gets filled with scribblings in Korean and translation notes.

1:50 p.m. - Class with the sixth-graders.  They are starting to get too old to be silly or get too involved with the singing games we do, so I generally am less goofy with them and instead play Cool Foreigner Guy.  It works pretty well usually, and they are pretty dedicated - if a bit less fun.

2:40 p.m. - Class with first and second grade.  This alternates between being very boring and being very fun, depending on what we are doing.  I have to drill them more than the older kids to keep them on task, with lots of repetitions.  Going down a list of words on the board and repeating each one ten times gets very boring, but it gets them used to saying the English pronunciations.  On the other hand, the activities I design tend to be very fun, because otherwise I wouldn't want to do them.  I get to do whatever I want with these grades, since there's no text, so I arrange for guessing games and identification games and whatever else I please.  I talk in goofy voices and dance and make faces and generally cut loose at this point, at the end of the day.

3:20 p.m. - My day is over, so I just do whatever I want until five.  Often my coteacher and I will eat fruit and just chat until it's time to leave.  She's a pretty young newlywed, and is the most adorable damn thing.  She has an infant child, and she picks me up every morning with the most glowingly proud grin which she inevitably explains as a result of her child doing something amazing (like eat a grape).  Today I showed her Facebook and all the people on it.  When she Ruri's photo as x-23, she said with a gasp, "She is asian!  You date!?  So sexy!"

And so that's pretty much it.  It's less busy on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, but otherwise it's rather similar.  At least I am able to get a lot of scholarly reading done at work, as I muddle through it, and have a computer and desk and whatnot to fill with paraphenalia.  Good times.

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