3.3 Fall 2021

November 19, It’s a small world after all

The school week is back in full swing. Not only that but starting at the end of next month we are transitioning back to the pre-COVID timetable with 40 minute classes and ten minute breaks, due to parent demand. I’m excited for an extra five minutes to drill phonics or writing, but not quite sure what to do with myself for ten minutes between classes.

In every grade at my big school, about once a chapter I have the kids write a short dialogue using the target sentences. The note of interest, however, is that I encourage them to write as crazy as possible.

Today, I gave the fourth graders this outline:

Note that “won” is the English spelling of Korean currency . And yes, I’ve converted to a Comic Sans fan. It’s the only universal font on all teachers’ computers that differentiates between lowercase l and uppercase I.

I told them that the weirder their choices were, the better.

“Let’s do one together,” I offered.

They were immediately craning out of their seats with excitement.

“How much is the sun! How much is the house! How much is the Lamborghini!” They volunteered with enthusiasm.

“Great, and how much is the Lamborghini?” I asked.

“100 won!” One volunteered to class giggles.

“Wow, that’s cheap. I’ll take it!”

I do this sort of writing pretty regularly and when the kids get permission to be wild, they go all in. I do see a fair amount of poop and killing related vocabulary in the upper grades. They think they’re being subversive but Minsoo, four other of your classmates also wrote “I kill my friend every day.” You’re not as clever as you think.

Regardless, it gets their weird little wheels turning. If I can get the spark of enthusiasm for a moment during class, I’m happy.

It was not unlike my decision to teach a brief history of English language in sixth grade because this chapter focuses on irregular past tense nouns. I wanted the kids to understand why English seems to have so many inconsistencies, since the Koreans I talk to always assume that English is weird “just because”.

So I put together a brief lecture and the kids were entranced. Truly. Even the teachers who stuck around that day commented “whoa, I didn’t know”. For a moment I wondered if I should just teach history.

I didn’t get to spread my wisdom to 6-1 and 6-2 due to COVID cancellation chaos, but I may bring it back next week for my own personal appeasement.

Today, after hearing the fourth graders interesting dialogues and finishing all but the last class, the 5-2 teacher invited me in a few minutes early and uncharacteristically started to chat while I was squatting and fighting to put my USB in correctly.

“I used to work at your travel school last year. So I know a lot of the teachers there.”

I’m listening…

“Do you know the young guy?”

My volleyball bro Anthony? Of course!

She told me he actually was put in school a year early and thus his social age is a year older than his Korean age; a true phenomena that I will bother him about next week. Koreans are sorted into grades by birth year and due to the hierarchy embedded in the language, you can speak casually to your classmates because they are your same age. So Anthony, secretly a year younger, got to casually speak to what were actually his senior classmates.

“I told him about you.” She said, and I have so many questions. I mentioned off hand that I was in the process of planning dinner with Jisoo and possibly Anthony, at which she looked almost jealous. Should I invite her next time…?

In fact, she, Anthony, and Yana all attended the same teaching college.

It’s a small world after all.

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