Friday, September 15, 2006

Turn On The Radio

It Never Ends...

Alright, I'm back... Maybe this time to stay a little longer. I'm trying to convince myself it's not always necessary to post these epic long posts including photos, music, movies, links and all the rest. A few sentences can surely suffice.

The usual, methodical, indexed me would try to resume this blog where I left off more than a month ago. But not tonight. Instead, I'll share a little story from one of yesterdays classes.

There exists a switch class full of 14-15 year olds= middle school students... a class so unbelievably lifeless no description can do them justice. Fate would have it that I have to teach this comatosed class our most conversation oriented text. Fortunately, I only face this challenge once a week so I have plenty of time to prepare for an hour of dialogue with myself.

Something amazing happened yesterday though, I made a breakthrough! We're currently covering a unit about all movies. You know, "What kind's of movies do you like?", "I think romantic movies are boring" etc. I've tried to stimulate conversation every way humanly possible but it's difficult do discuss movies when students can't recall a single Korean movie title. I actually brought my computer into class, googled "Korean Movies" and went through each poster. I took a tally to see who had seen what. It turned out they'd seen all twenty movies on the page and this finding is definitely consistent with a student population that reports having eaten, slept, played video games and watched TV every weekend since my arrival one year ago.

The last time we did a partnered speaking activity I had to place Nike, Adidas (two of the more original names), K, L, M and B (these are really the names they chose...) into two rows facing each other just to get them to look at each other. I know these students are good people. I know each of them actually wants to speak but they're all too scared about what the other is thinking, they don't want to stand out. So even after I explained the simple task at hand fifteen different ways and resorted to using my hand as a puppet to illustrate a conversation they pretended not to understand... and I become even more determined complete my mission. Eventually, they got tired of standing, gave in, and quietly mumbled at each-other.

Well today I reminded this class I could organize them into two lines again if need be. Almost instantly they turned in their seats but no one had the courage to ask the first question, "Do you like dramas?". And right than I had an epiphany, I reached over to the cassette player and turned the radio on. I cranked the volume on the Korean talk show and said, "Don't worry, no one can hear you." And that's all it took... some noise, and they were chatting away. I sat and marked papers with my head down as not to make them nervous and they diligently interviewed their partners.

I'm not sure this technique will work every time... but even once is enough for me.


Anonymous said...

Well done!!


Anonymous said...

Did you actually hear them speaking English, or were they fartin off in their Native Language? I miss the handpuppets, people here just don't understand.

that guy on a long vacation