Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Oh, You Kids!

A bit of background info about the place I work at.
Seoul English Village is an English immersion camp, with situational classes. Students come and stay here for a few days, usually with their school, usually hundreds of students at a time. Students come, students go: a fact which has positives and negatives in equal parts. We get variety in age, English level and background of students, but don't get to build relationships. Kids we like leave, and so do kids we don't like.

Over Winter Camp we've done Oral Tests, to allow us to put the students into teams based on their level. The Oral Test involves asking questions, to elicit answers hopefully using a range of tenses and vocabulary. As the student sits down in the seat opposite us, we have no idea where they're going to be at. Sometimes they are incredibly cheerful, other times they look around shiftily, looking for someone to rescue them. Sometimes they're fluent. And other times when we ask the first question, 'how are you?' the answer is a slow, practiced, careful 'I am nine years old.'

Usually I ask a random selection of suggested questions on the list, steering clear of the last one.

"What is the most important thing in the world?"

 Whoa there! I'm sure there are many adults who would struggle to come up with a quick or real answer to this mind blowing question. I can't help feeling it's immenseness is rather inappropriately aimed at the (more often than not) 9-12 age bracket here at SEV.
That being said, this time around I decided to give the question a go and have become intrigued and slightly addicted to the answers.

                               "My brother"
"Study" (so I can speak to people when I visit Paris) 

                         "My dream" (to become an actor as well as teacher)

and the most wonderful answer of all, 

I love how individually valid and different these answers are. There's a distinct line between awareness of the wider world and a close, egocentric (and therefore childish) sense of what is important.

A class here that can be at either end of the mind numbingly boring-amazingly interesting spectrum for a teacher is Post Office. The main aim of this class is for each student to write a letter to their favourite teacher. More often than not the kids have only been here for a couple of days, and so aren't particularly bothered about writing to a teacher. Other times their English is so poor that they do well just to copy out the words I've written on the board, including the gaps I meant for them to fill with their own words.

I'm having a ____________ time at SEV.
My favourite class so far is______________.

Nice one.
Needless to say, every teacher is thrilled when one of these bad boys appears in their mailbox.

Other times you get a strangely insulting letter, such as the one I got a few weeks ago, which went something like this:

Teacher have big face
I'm love you
I'm sorry!

My my. Rude and bad grammar. 

But then occasionally you get those students who've been here for a while, who know the teachers and really want to write a good letter (and not to mention, have the ability to do it). My most recent Post Office class was one of these instances, and here are some of the results:

One Last Winner is a quiz competition- does she think it's gonna be lots of questions relating to snow??

He is quite alone in being impressed with the food here!

I'm concerned my hair colour has really descended into a nasty yellow.

Another highly entertaining event here at SEV is the evening Winter/Summer Camp Talent Show, of which we've had a few recently. The talent show is a time for students to dance, sing, attempt magic tricks or put on skits. It's all very cute. There are times when the kids are so good they leave you speechless.
And there are other times when they leave you speechless in a whole other way. A couple of weeks ago we had one of those Talent Shows, where most of the acts were just plain painful. One girl (I like to think of her as the ringleader of the painfulness) decided to sing a cappella. It's not that she was bad, it's just that even professionals can't necessarily sing to a room full of people without musical accompaniment. The audience talked over her and we were embarrassed for her, but she plowed on, seemingly unaware (for not one but two songs.) At the end she won third place, but when she got up to receive her prize she looked far from pleased, clearly not having praticed her 'gracious loser' face.
Then last week she came back for more! Her rendition of 'I Dreamed a Dream,' from Les Miserables of course had no music to accompany it. It was a painful re-enactment of the last weeks performance, but made even better by the last note, which dragged on and on.

drrreeeeaaaaaaaaammmmmm! (for at least 10 long, slightly warbly seconds)

Loved it.  


No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment!