Thursday, 9 February 2012

Watch The World

The Korean school year goes something like this:

Term 1 runs from the start of March until mid-July, then the students have summer vacation until late August (summer camps will run in this time in which select students will attend specialist programmes during the vacation period). Term 2 will resume in late August and run until late December, then the students will break for winter vacation (and have more camps). Here’s the weird bit. Students will then return to school for 2 weeks at the beginning of February and then there is a two week spring vacation at the end of February before school starts again in March. Currently I’m in the two week period where students are back in school but let’s be honest, they ain’t doing much.

I’ve been informed that my English classes are cancelled this week; however, yesterday I did give one impromptu third grade role play class in which I had students pretending to act like various types of birds. You never know what is going to happen. That’s the thing about being an ESL teacher in Korea, at school you have to fend for yourself and be prepared for every eventuality. Anything could happen at the blink of an eye.

The point of these two weeks in February is vague. I’ve heard several explanations for it, all speculative. Some say it’s for tying up loose ends before the new term starts, others say its so that the students can clean the school ready for the new term. As far as I’m concerned, nobody knows what the real reason is. I think it’s been like this for so long that people have forgotten why and the older generation are too stubborn to change anything. That’s my two cents.

It’s best, in my experience at least, not to ask too many questions about these sorts of matters. When I first got here I was full of questions for my co-teachers but I quickly learnt that it’s best not to ask them, and to just go with the flow. Simple rule of thumb, if you have a question about what you need to do, ask it, if you have a question about how you need to do it, don’t bother. If they want a lesson that takes longer than five minutes to plan then they’ll give you longer than five minutes to plan it. I have a folder on my USB called ‘Mission Impossible’, this is for those days when I have to turn up for a class with five minutes’ notice, and I have to be Ethan Hunt for 40 minutes, I have to think fast, act quickly, watch my back. It’s all fun and games.

So, here I am back at school and it’s kind of good to be back. Ok, of course I’d rather still be on vacation, I’m not going to lie to you. I had an amazing time and am very much looking forward to my big trip in the summer (don’t talk to me about visas), but it’s nice to be getting back into a routine. It’s great to see the kids again; they seemed genuinely excited to see me, which felt good. I’m half way now; this week marks the exact half way mark in my contract. So, what will be next? What will the new term bring?

For now, I sit at my desk and listen to my co-workers nattering away. For now, I scour the web looking for new games and activities I can bring into the classroom next term. For now, I sit at my desk and start writing my second novel. For now, I sit at my desk and watch the world go by...

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