Intrepid Girl Reporter

where the wild things are
October 23, 2007, 4:52 am
Filed under: ESL, games, miscommunication, okay seriously Korea, PCT, skool, students, teaching, the authorities

Some will win

Some will lose

Some were born to sing the blues

– Steve Perry sings about my lesson plans

My students are lurking – lurking – outside my classroom, which I am loath to leave until the bell rings and lunch is over, since my lock has mysteriously disappeared and I can’t ask any of the teachers where it is, as they’re all running around like crazed headless chickens in preparation for this gender-equality exhibition that’s being held here today. I don’t have to stay. As a matter of fact, I was told that I should not stay, because it’s all going to be in Korean, and nothing has changed significantly regarding my language skills since my last post.

I tried to move from describing places to describing ourselves today, which didn’t really work. We were supposed to play “I Love My Neighbor,” which is a lovely and affirming variant of camp favorite “The West Wind Blows,” but it didn’t work; in one of my classes I had Mr. Kang, who is lovely but who didn’t show up until halfway through, and in one I had Short Jeong, who is almost but not quite worse than having no co-teacher at all. This is proof positive that the problem isn’t in the interesting-ness of my lessons; I took Short Jeong’s advice and made them “more interesting” (who doesn’t like games? or running? or talking about themselves?), but the students didn’t KNOW, because they wouldn’t listen long enough to figure it out.

Right now I am wearing clothes that are too big for me; I’ve lost so much weight here in Korea* that I’m back to the size I was when I was sixteen, which is great, except that nothing fits. So I feel really gross. Actually, I feel like Mademoiselle Croket, my high school French teacher, who was always cranky and negative and who taught us French with a thick Midwestern accent. It was the rare Michigan dialect of French. Despite the fact that she was only in her late twenties, she always wore these really baggy and frumpy clothes, which is what I’m wearing today, as PCT called me at 7 AM and told me to dress up in case I ran into some visitor for the exhibition. So that probably contributed to my class failure today, the fact that I felt like a sack of sack sack sack. But I really need to figure out exactly how to deal with my low-level second graders; I’d like to rely on my co-teachers for discipline help, but I’m starting to think that they’re just not going to change, and that I’m going to have to do it on my own. At the workshop one of the Program extendees suggested that we learn our students’ names as a disciplinary tactic, and I think it would work – I’ve seen a change in the students whose names I’ve learned – but I can already imagine the conversation I’ll have when I try to get a photo roster of my classes:

IGR PCT, can I have a copy of the photo roster of my classes?

PCT What?

IGR You know, the paper with all the students’ photographs on it.

PCT You have.

IGR No, I just have a list of names.

PCT So you can learn from them.

IGR But that doesn’t have their pictures, so it’s much more difficult.

PCT Co-teachers, they should know students’ names.

IGR But they should not have to do all the discipline. I would like to help.

PCT In that case. There are so many students. It is very hard to learn the names. Even I have trouble. So maybe just call their numbers.

If our discussion doesn’t closely parallel that, I will be very, very surprised.

I’ll update more on the conference later, maybe. Despite the rough day, I’m still going pretty strong. Now I’m going to go watch “The Office” and take a nap before I have a dinner meeting with the teachers. Oh my.

*WHY I HAVE LOST SO MUCH WEIGHT:  I feel that today’s eating pattern is a good example. I woke up, wasn’t hungry enough to eat breakfast so early/didn’t really have time, got a bottle of 녹차 and some “chewy sesame bread” (about the size of a roll) during one of my breaks, and then took the students who won for their classes’ poster contests to get Popsicles. I ate one of those. Then I went to lunch, which was tonkatsu, which I like, but this was not good – it wasn’t pork, it was, like, pork patty. So that’s what I’ve eaten today. And later I am going out for dinner with the other teachers, where I will undoubtedly be coerced into eating lots of meat that not only has not had the fat trimmed, but actually appears to have had fat added. But that’s only one meal in the day.


This game is an excellent icebreaker, and it also works in any group discussion on tolerance, prejudice, and self-esteem.

1. Students form a circle, with one person in the middle.

2. The person in the middle says, “I love my neighbor who…[speaks two languages, loves the smell of cat food, is lactose-intolerant].”

3. Anyone to whom that characteristic applies has to run across the circle and take someone else’s spot. There will be one person left out, and they have to stand in the middle and start again.


1 Comment so far
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I lost fifty pounds in six weeks when I went to Brazil. This was due partly to a) a diet consisting of 90% beans and rice (ie all protein, or what people would in a couple years start calling “Atkins”) but mostly to b) culture shock.

So anyway, be careful.

Comment by Brendan

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