I could spend a lot of time writing all the reasons why I like being a middle school teacher in Korea.
But to keep my fingers from crying out in protest, I will highlight the key reason why I like being a teacher here.
My students. My students are awesome! I have met a lot of really amazing kids the past 5 months I have been living in Korea.
I am always so impressed with the kids who speak English really well and also the kids who make an effort to talk to me despite their low English speaking ability.
Since I teach a lot of students, it’s hard to get to know them all.
Also, since I am the foreign English teacher, it’s a little intimidating for most of students to talk to me because they feel like their English isn’t good enough. (This is crazy because Korean and English are radically different from each other; any English they can speak is inherently better than my Korean language skills!)
Anyways, it seems that just as some of my students started to warm up to me, the school year was ending and they getting ready to head off to High School.
Still, some of them seem to want to stay in contact with me, which I find really great. I am very curious what they will do with their lives and where they will end up in the future.
I hope to keep in contact with them and see how much their English improves over the years!
Side story: At my school there is a range of the Students’ English ability ranging from the very highly skilled students to those students who can barely read simple sentences or understand simple questions like “What did you do this weekend?”
Despite this, a few of the students with low English skills have managed to “befriend” me. This means they come by my classroom and say “Hi” even though they are unable to have an extended conversation with me.
I think what has helped with this is that most of the students have discovered I am trying to learn Korean. When I try to speak some Korean to them (and they can hear my horrible American accent and also the fact I struggle to pronounce words/ read basic sentences) they start to feel more comfortable.
They probably think, “Wow, Korean is really hard for her, but she still is trying. I should try to speak English, even though I find it hard too.”
Despite massive language barriers sometimes, I find it possible to enjoy spending time with my students. I think it is cool that some of my students feel comfortable enough to reach out to me, even if they can’t always communicate everything they would wish to say.
I think the biggest part of learning a language is practice, practice, practice. It can be frustrating not being able to say what you want to say, or saying the right word or people not understanding you because of your accent. However, if you practice a lot, everything becomes easier over time.
Here’s hoping my Korean improves dramatically by the time I am done living here!