Wednesday, November 15, 2006

My Favorite Pupils...

I have to deal with many students throughout the week--of all ages. Of course the ones I get paid for teaching are all middle school aged between 12-14. Today, I was thinking about my favorite students, and I thought I'd share.

Note: in Korea 1st grade~7th grade, 2nd grade~8th grade, 3rd grade~9th grade

At Seong Po, my main school, there is a third grade guy that has become one of my favorites. When handing out English names, I gave him my middle name, Kyle. We sometimes catch the same bus home. He gets off much earlier than I, but we make small talk. He's not that great at English, maybe average for his age, but he tries. I really like that. Then, today, I watched as he lead a group of students for their "beatbox club." I watched off to the side. he was really good with the younger students and very patient. It reminded a little bit of me teaching English. Instead of the students practicing their "th" sounds, they are practicing their "boom, chick" and other unwritable sounds.

There's also a couple of second grade students, also at Seong Po, who are among those few who I have three times a week. Their both good at English, and always have a smiles for me. The girl would always say, "See you tomorrow" to me at the end of the day. I would correct her by saying, "No, I'll see you Wednesday (or Friday)" since I see them every other day. She quickly caught on, and now says the correct goodbye on the appropriate days.

The other second grader is a boy who is very good at understanding directions and following what I'm saying. Even though he may not get every word, he goes for comprehension, and I can carry on a decent conversation with him. A couple weeks ago, I had to ask him three times to be quiet and to work while the others were working. The third time, I came over and was noticeably frustrated. I opened his book and pointed at the part that he was supposed to be practicing. His smile changed and he said, "Are you upset?" "Yes, you are not being a very good student today." That's the only problem I had with him. The fact that he responded to my emotion was important. Most of the students who are giving me problems don't seem to care if I'm getting upset or not.

My other really favorite student is an adult. She's not a formal student. She works at the education office, and has me over for dinner with her family every now and then. She speaks broken English, but it is bold broken English. She is very blunt and it comes across in her English. She asks me a word, I tell her and she remembers. Again, she's not that great at English right now, but she tries really hard. She also doesn't back down when I can't understand her. She keeps going until I get it.

So, as someone who's been on both sides of a foreign language, the two most important pieces of advice I can give to language learners is to not be afraid to make mistakes, and to be persistent.

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