Conversaciones con mis estudiantes

Las clases en mi academia suelen ser repetitivas y, muchas veces, las respuestas que recibo a las preguntas que hago son correctas pero aburridas. Pero, de vez en cuando, recibo respuestas o historias que me hacen salir del ritmo habitual de la clase. Aquí algunos ejemplos de ellas (traducidas al español):

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Mi grupo de estudiantes más pequeños tiene un libro que es el que siempre usamos en la clase. Ese libro tiene unas palabras de vocabulario que los estudiantes tienen que usar para crear una oración o historia. Uno de mis estudiantes hizo esta historia con la palabra “iglesia”:

Iván Teacher y Gavin Teacher fueron a la iglesia. Empezaron a pelear dentro de la iglesia. Gavin Teacher le dio un puño a Iván Teacher. Jesús bajó de la cruz y dijo: “Dejen de pelear.” Entonces Jesús mató a Iván y Gavin.

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Tengo otro grupo al que sólo le doy clases los miércoles. Le he dado clases a algunos de esos estudiantes anteriormente pero su inglés ha mejorado muchísimo, lo suficiente como para hacer historias un poco más complejas que antes. Un estudiante me hizo este chiste:

Estudiante: Maestro, el otro día me pesé y pesaba 100kg. Me fui al baño y cagué un montón. Volví a pesarme pero todavía pesaba 100kg. Maestro, ¿qué pasó?

Yo: No sé. ¿Qué fue lo que pasó?

Estudiante: ¡Me comí la mierda!

(Este estudiante está obsesionado con la mierda. Siempre que tiene que hacer una oración nueva, hay mierda involucrada.)

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Estos días los estudiantes de intermedia tienen sus exámenes de mitad de semestre por lo que hemos tenido muchas ausencias. A una de las clases sólo vinieron tres estudiantes. Uno de los estudiantes usó la palabra “obite” (오바이트) que es un japonismo para la palabra vomitar. Estoy tratando de erradicar todas las palabras coreanas o japonesas en el salón por lo que les expliqué que la expresión correcta es “throw up”. Entonces, uno de los estudiantes me preguntó:

“Maestro, si “throw up” es sacar algo del cuerpo hacia arriba, ¿”throw down” significa cagar?

No importó que les explicara que “throw down” significa pelear. Prefirieron su propia explicación a la mía.

¡Feliz Navidad!

Eso fue lo que me gritó un grupo de estudiantes al momento de entrar al salón. Mi co-teacher les enseñó la frase la hora antes de mi clase y ellos, super emocionados, la repitieron en el momento justo. Aunque a veces joden mucho, es el grupo que más me entretiene. Tienen suficiente energía como para darle electricidad a todo Korea.

Qué disfruten este día, como sea que lo celebren.

Mi grupo de estudiantes varones

Ahora mismo tengo una clase de estudiantes de intermedia que es solamente de varones. Esto ha creado un ambiente muy cómodo (a veces demasiado) entre ellos y yo. Creo que las inhibiciones que tenían cuando habían chicas presente en el salón han desaparecido casi por completo.

Por ejemplo, el martes pasado el tema de la clase era sobre la escuela y la educación. Este fue el intercambio que tuve con uno de mis estudiantes:

Yo: What do you give your teacher for Teacher’s Day?
Estudiante: I give my teacher the finger.

La semana pasada, cuando estábamos practicando la  construcción “I wish I could…” estas fueron algunas de las oraciones que crearon:

“I wish I could kick the Korean teacher.”

“I wish I could fight crazy people.”

“I wish I could explode all schools.”

Me gusta que se sienten en la libertad de hacer oraciones fuera de lo que normalmente harían si se sintiesen cohibidos por algún otro elemento.

Precisamente el martes pasado, mientras practicábamos varias oraciones, la mayoría de ellos se dieron a la tarea de dibujarme. Fue así como una reacción en cadena; uno de ellos comenzó y los demás siguieron.

Aquí está la muestra completa:

Obviamente, doy la clase con camisa. Este estudiante usó la libertad artística para imaginarse como me vería sin ella:

No sé si mi espejo miente o los ojos de mis estudiantes ven la verdad, pero NO peso 150kg:

Este se parece a uno que ya tengo porque lo dibujo el mismo estudiante:

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Sobre este último dibujo tengo que explicar algunas cosas. Primero, el estudiante que lo dibujó no está en la clase que expliqué arriba. Este es un estudiante de los miércoles, que no sé si me ha dibujado antes, y a quien hoy vi demasiado entretenido ignorando mi clase y cuando me le acerqué, encontré el dibujo. Inicialmente no me quería dar el dibujo, diciendo que era otra cosa pero al final se lo quité.

Nuevamente, parece como si no tuviera camisa aunque claramente tengo algo marca Nike. Pero no es un Nike original sino un 짜가, o una copia barata. También lo mismo con los zapatos. Supongo que él quería escribir Adidas 짜가, para decir que uso zapatos de imitación. Por último, pueden ver mis 팬티 (que literalmente sería panti, aunque en coreano se le llama panti a ambos calzoncillos y pantis) con un diseño de corazón, lo último en la moda coreana.

Intercambio de lenguas en la clase de coreano

Ya mi cuerpo se acostumbra, poco a poco, al ritmo nuevo de estos días. Levantándome a las 7am, desayunar corriendo, caminar hasta la parada de guaguas, enlatarme como sardina en la guagua con 500 coreanos a las 8am y llegar con 20 minutos de adelanto a la universidad, para pasar 10 caminando hasta el salón. Todo el estrés de esas dos horas se va cuando llego al salón.

Hoy estuvimos casi tres horas y media practicando como decir “¿Qué es eso/esto? Eso/esto es un libro“. (이것은/저것은 무엇입니까? 이것은 입니다.)  También aprendimos a decir “¿Es eso/esto una puerta? Sí, es una puerta. No, eso/esto no es una puerta. Eso/esto es una ventana” (이것은/저것은 입니까? 네, 입니다. 아니요, 이것은/저것은 이 안입니다. 이것은/저것은 창문입니다.) Lo practicamos tanto que me lo memoricé. Esta noche tengo que escribir esas frases varias veces en mi libreta (como nene de kinder).

Completamos todo el material del día como 15 minutos antes de que se acabara la clase así que la profesora empezó a hacer un mini intercambio de lenguas. En el salón hay personas que hablan árabe, chino, francés, inglés, español y japonés. Empezó preguntando como decir hola, luego gracias y te amo. Toda eso empezó porque la profe me preguntó si vivía en Chilgok y si en mi país hablan inglés. Le dije que mayormente español.

Por este intercambio de lenguas fue que incluí el vídeo de My Ear’s Candy de Baek Ji Young (Feat. Taec Yeon (2PM)) porque tiene la frase “te amo” en coreano (사랑해), inglés (I love you), chino (我爱你, Wǒ ài nǐ) y español (aunque dicen te quiero en vez de te amo).

English EPIC Fail!

La semana pasada el Daegu Gyeongbuk English Village, la “escuela” para la que trabajo, le dio una nueva mano de pintura a un avión que tiene, que se usa como salón de clases, porque la pintura vieja estaba sucia.  Cabe notar que esto es una escuela de inglés. Cuando los trabajadores terminaron de pintar el avión, quedó así:

Porque no todo lo que brilla es inglés.

Porque no todo lo que brilla es inglés. (foto por Miguel Ongay Siverio)

Desgraciadamente, ya rectificaron el error y ahora lee “Yeungjin Airlines”. Pero, los días que duró eso así, me llenaron de alegría en el corazón.

El primer mes en Corea – Lorna Camacho Souchet

Lorna es una maestra de inglés en Gyeonsan y, como yo, es natural de Puerto Rico. Es amiga de una amiga y hemos estado intercambiando experiencias por Facebook. Su experiencia hasta ahora ha sido bastante diferente a la mía porque ella trabaja en una escuela pública a través de EPIK (English Program in Korea) y yo trabajo en un English Village (no me he olvidado que tengo que explicar lo que es). Aquí les dejo el escrito de Lorna sobre su primer mes como maestra de inglés en Corea:

My One Month Korean Experience
by Lorna Camacho Souchet

Ok, so I have officially been in Korea one month and for those of you who have never been here is a recap of my experiences!

FOOD:

At most restaurants, it is customary to take of your shoes and sit on the floor to eat. Meals always consist of rice, some type of soup, and meat. Meals are shared by everyone. The main dish is a type of meat that is cooked at the table and you are provided with an array of side dish options to accompany the meat. You pick whatever your going to eat, from these comunal side dishes with your chopsticks. They rarely use napkins at the table as eating with chopstiks, I think, minimizes the chances of needing them. They have their own version of a taco, although they don’t know what a taco is! Their tacos consist of you picking up a piece of lettuce, putting on meat, and whatever side dish you want on that piece of lettuce, then folding it and sticking it all in your mouth in one bite!!! Trust me not an easy feat at first, and it’s difficult to chew at first as well!! =)

The best way to describe Korean food is by saying that it feels like fire in your mouth. Literally! The food is very hot and spicy, but eventually the fire subsides and you get used to it. The only problem is that they usually do not have anything to drink while they eat, so it is difficult to quench the fire at first!!

After the main dish, they usually eat rice or soup or both and then finish it with tea. As a foreigner it is difficult to keep up with the speed that they eat!! Since Koreans tend to be busy and always in a rush they also eat very fast!! (I’m starting to catch up!) Also, as soon as everyone is done they get up and go abruptly. They do not stay to rest or talk.

They have all kinds of soups such as seaweed, egg, beef, corn, etc. Some are really spicy and some are not. They also eat all kinds of meat, and yes in some parts of Korea they eat dog, but they are dogs that have been raised to be ate, not picked up off of the street. So far I have eaten beef, fish, squid, blowfish, duck, and chicken, (I think that’s all). They also eat silkworms here, which I tried to try, but could not get myself to chew! =) The thought of chewing it was too revolting!! =}

They also eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, and all kinds of mushrooms, all kinds: round, flat, long, small.

Finally with regards to food, everything and anything they eat is described as “healthy”. EVERYTHING!!

SCHOOL:

As I am working here as an English teacher I have new experiences with their school system. First of all they have Elementary, Middle, and High School. Elementary are grades 1-6, Middle is grades 7-9, and HS are grades 10-12, but they refer to the Middle and High School grades as first, second, and third. I.E. ” I am in 3 grade middle school”, which at first is a little confusing. Also, teachers in HS and MS are still allowed to hit their students and they do, with sticks, not their hands. I think all MS and HS teachers go to class with a stick, and most of them use it!!! In MS classes last 45 minutes. They have 6 regular periods starting from 9:15 AM to 3:20 PM. Afterwards, they have 2 after shool classes from 3:40 PM to 5:20 PM, and I think they have to pay for those.

In addition, no piercings of any kind are allowed for boys or girls and girls’ must maintain their hair above their shoulders.

Also, after lunch, everyone, students and teachers, brush their teeth. The students have a comunal sink, and they go their after lunch. Lunch only lasts 45 minutes in MS, and they have 10 minutes of break time in between each class. Students, not teachers, have assigned classrooms and the teachers are the ones that go from class to class. The students do not change classrooms throughout the day except to go to the gym for PE. There is a teachers lounge and everyone’s “office” is in that teachers lounge, but there are no cubicles.

When teachers punish students, the punishment usually fits the crime. Example: two boys fought the other day. The very next day their punishment was to go to the teacher’s lounge on every 10 minute break they had throughout the day and hug for the full 10 minutes. (I will post pictures!!)

The students are shy, but curious, and the English teachers speak really well. The teachers are extremely nice and they go out of their way to try to speak English to me; something I look at with the utmost respect!!

In HS classes last 50 minutes and start at 8:20 AM and run through 10:00 PM. High School students are professional students. They don’t have time to do anything else, except study. Girls are allowed long hair, but not their ears pierced. Therefore, most girls and boys get their ears pierced upon graduating High School.

FInally, with regards to school Middle School and High School kids go to school every other Saturday!!
(And you complained about your schools back home!!) Also, the students are the ones who clean the school everyday. They have no custodians, every grade is in charge of a different part of the school. Oh yeah, and in middle school kids take of their shoes and put on sandals before going in. And in both Middle School and High School students bow at the beginning and end of every class. The class president will stand up and say “Attention, Bow” and everyone will bow and say hello. In school everyone calls each other by their last name first and their first name last. Example: a girl’s name in my class is Bora (first name) Lee (last name) but she will be called Lee Bora. Teachers call each other by their last name and then the word teacher. Example: Jina Lee will be called Lee san seim nim or Lee san by her coworkers and new people she meets. Out of respect you are addressed by your job title and not your name.

EVERYDAY OCURRENCES:

If you come to Korea, be afraid of Bus Drivers!! Very Afraid!! They don’t really wait for you to be fully on the bus to take off and they rarely come to a complete stop for you to get off!! Also, to use the bus people usually buy a bus card, because the fee is less expensive than if you pay cash, and swipe it on a machine at the entrance of the bus. This same bus card can also be used at the store, on the subway, on the train, with a taxi, or at a pay phone you just have to put money in it.

Recycling is part of everyday life and done by everyone. Garbage is automatically separated before it is thrown away, and food is also separated. It is not included in the garbage but disposed of separatley. And as a society, from what I’ve seen, they are not wastefu.

Playgrounds, tennis courts, basketball courts and the such usually have a dirt floor as having grass is expensive to maintain.

Water in the bathroom is ice cold, even in winter!

LG, Daewoo, and Hyundai are Korean and therefore huge name brands.

There are street vendors everywhere, and they sell all kinds of trinkets and food.

Make all kinds of food and drinks out of rice. ALL kinds!!

The local E-Mart, which is somewhat comparable to a Wal-Mart becasue they sell everything, but MUCH bigger, actually has employees. Every hallway has an employee, and they all bow if they help you. You can also sample all kinds of foods and breads there.

They have cell phone stores everywhere! And I mean everywhere! In Daegu, the biggest city near my town, there is a street literally called “Cell Phone Street” and has over 30 cell phone stores. How they all stay in business I don’t know, but employees are on the sidewalk and they will try to get you into their stores!!

They are also supersticious regarding Blood types. They will ask your blood type to determine the type of person you are If your are :

A type: kind, it’s hard for them to say no, want to posses their loved ones, lie easily (and can cheat lie detector machines), like to organize things.

B: live in their own strange world, like to take and not give, can embaress others, easily change their minds, AKA “Psychos”.

AB: If they hate something they will avoid it at all costs, like to sleep, want to be called by their friends and not call them, don’t have many friends just a few, prefer friendship to love.

O: cannot stop laughing, can be serious even with small things, are extremely trustworthy, lazy, sentimental (cry easily), have a hot character, cannot keep their thoughts to themselves, relieve their stress by eating!

See if your Blood type matches your personality!

In Korea, you are 2 years older than your “american” age. For example, upon arrival to Korea, I found out that according to them I was not 27, but 29. (I was born in 1981). You see, here once the baby is born they say he/she is 1 year old. Then on January 1st everyone ages one year. So, if you’re born on December 30 you are one year old and then on January 1st you become 2. Everyone ages on the same day, but celebrate their bday on the actual day they were born. Different huh?!

People are always willing to help even if they don’t know the language!

Fashion is also a bit different. Girls, university girls and up will usually be in either heels or sneakers. They wear tight pants and big shirts. Pair blazers with everything. And sometimes wear boy jeans.
Guys tend to wear fitted suits, blazers and vests.

Everything is done with 2 hands out of respect. And what I mean is that when ever you give anything (a piece of paper, money , etc) to someone you have one hand extended and the other one should be on your wrist, on your bicep, or over your right breast. I forget to do it all the time and only remember when I see the person returning my change with 2 hands.

This has been my experience in Gyeonsan. I am sure that other peoples’ experiences will vary depending on their cities.