live juicy. get pithy with it.
‘That was then, this is now’ – but my adventures teaching English in South Korea helped shape who I am today.
Here’s where I shared some slice-of-life observations on living in a foreign country. It was a fabulous adventure where an Aussie eating Russian cheese bought in Mongolia by my Korean friend (whom I communicated with in Japanese as it was our common ground, while I taught English to her boys), was a normal part of life.
A couple of examples of what you’re in for…
When the kimchi hits the fan.. uh.. floor
Hello. I’m Kirsty.. and I’m a double dipper.
(Actually, it’s more like a triple dipper these days.)
Bloody metal chopsticks!
By the time I’ve picked up and subsequently dropped each morsel of food a dozen times (in varying proximity to my mouth.. mostly halfway between mouth and plate, giving me a really lovely kimchi (fermented, pickled cabbage, for the uninitiated) splattered design down the front of my jacket).. the morsel of food is ruined. Massacred. Squished beyond recognition. Lost its filling. Hacked in half. It has run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisibile! It’s an ex-morsel.
When you factor in picking up the food, wedging it between the chopsticks, holding it in place en route, retrieving it from my lap and/or the floor, wedging it forcefully back in between the chopsticks, then guiding it (hands-on) into my mouth.. I’m basically eating with my fingers.
“But Mum, you said it’s rude to eat with your fingers at the dinner table!”
And thus the kimchi hits the fan..
And the front of my jacket.
And all down my jeans.
And the floor.
Here to help
“I know you’re all stressed out about your exams next week,” I say.
(Despite having taught in Korea for two years, I am still not accustomed to their education ethos here. I teach almost 800 students every week. These kids are first and second year high school students (16/17 years old). They are at this school from 8am until 11pm, six days a week. Well, actually they only do half a day on Saturdays. Slack.)
“I know you’re all stressed out about your exams next week,” I say. “So if you have any questions, I’m here to help!”
“Teacher!” they say.
“Yes!” I eagerly approach their cluster of desks. This is what I’m here for! To educate, to assist, to light the fires within and fuel their passion for learning the English language and empowering them to use this out in the real world!
“Teacher, is this a modal verb?” They look at me with trusting, expectant eyes.
Okay, I’m lighting the fires, I’m fueling their passion for English, I’m… stumped.
I’m a conversational English teacher, okay? I haven’t looked at the intricacies of English grammar for sixteen years. Oh God. I’m getting old. Older. I’m getting older.
“Teacher?” They break into my grammar-driven, panic-stricken reverie about growing old with auxiliary verbs.
“Well.. that’s the subject there. This is the object. Oh look, here’s the verb. Every sentence needs a verb you know. Here’s a noun. This is the adverb….”
Multiply by two, add thirteen, divide by the Queen’s birthday and subtract the number you started with.
“It’s a verb. Yes. ”
“A modal verb?” Again those trusting eyes.
I look up their grammar book: “Modal auxiliary verbs are invariable (no conjugation). And the main verb is always the “bare infinitive” (the infinitive without “to”).”
They look skeptical.
“Yes, it’s a modal verb,” I say again.
They still look skeptical.
Who’s the native English speaker around here anyway?!
Okay.. next question!
Let’s light those fires. Let’s empower. Let’s enjoy the journey of using this fascinating language together!
I’m here to help, folks.
Here to help.