Monday, May 6, 2013


Thursday is easily my worst day.  I teach from 9:30 to 4:50.  Although the school is in Daegu, it's almost a longer commute to get to than the out of town Gumi.  It takes a solid hour to get there with a subway/bus combo.  It's a Middle School.  It's rural.  It's in a lot of ways unbelievable.

At least the view is nice.

My day starts with adults.  I teach about 12 housewives, with the occasional male, for 3 hours.  Non stop.  Their levels of english vary greatly, so it's pretty difficult to keep the advanced students interested and the low level students with me.  All things considered, this is the easy part of my day.  The students are pretty interested in just about anything I say, and have good questions.  They even took me to lunch last week, which was awesome.  We had barbecued duck and some other stuff that has no english name.  It was very generous.

Stretching stuff for 3 hours is certainly a challenge though.

One other plus to this gig at Gachang Middle School is the free lunch.  I get to go have an authentic Korean school cafeteria experience.  The food is always pretty good and healthy, but lunch usually consists of a lot of what I call "drive-by english," students walking by and almost yelling "hello" and "nice to meet you."  Sometimes the occasional "I love you!"  I try to finish lunch quick so I can mentally prepare for what is coming.

The Cafeteria

At 1:15 I get a class of about 25 first year middle school students.  They are usually throwing erasers as each other, using their cell phones, and yelling at/chasing each other.  It takes about 5 minutes for them to settle down.  My co-teacher is a joke; the first day I taught he sat down in one of the students' desks and went to sleep, complete with snoring.  Most of these students can't read english, and can speak very little, yet the class is conducted entirely in english.  

My second class consists of at least three mentally challenged students who are impossible to speak with, a mute kid, and about 25 other students who don't have a clue what is going on.  There is a lot of yelling in this class.  It's too many students.

But the worst class, by far, is the 3rd class.  Even my co-teacher understands that this one is brutal.  There are 40 students in it.  Again, I have about 4 students that have some sort of mental disability where they can't communicate regularly with me.  They might yell out random english, but they can't put together answers or participate in class.  They typically disrupt the rest of the class.  These are 2nd year middle school students, so they are old enough to realize that this whole english charade is a joke.  They couldn't care less, and it's easy for them to hide in a sea of 40 students.  
The class is a success if it is kept to a medium murmur.  The co teacher walks around wielding a stick like a prison guard to hit students misbehaving, but since that practice has all but been abolished here it isn't much of a threat.  It's a long hard 40 minutes.  I tried to end class with a game 2 weeks ago, and the team that lost started yelling "I PLAYED THE FUCKING GAME!! I PLAYED THE FUCKING GAME!!" I nearly run out of this room after it's finished.

Yeah Right.

My final class of the day should be easier than it is, but it isn't.  There are between 12-15 students but I can never be sure because they are often missing class.  There are 4 students that cannot read, write, or speak english.  So I'm left to try and have a conversation class with the remaining students, who I constantly have to separate, yell at, and kick out of class.  Literally, there is one student that is following what I am saying in that class.

I leave to catch the bus home, which can take about an hour before I even get to the subway, relieved.  I typically leave Thursday's saying "That was hell, but the worst is over."

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