Why I like being a middle school teacher (Storyaday: Day 15)

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! 😉

Storyaday: Day 10 “Temptation”

I am ten days into my new yearlong project: storyaday.

Today I met with some other writers who wanted a chance to write in a fun/inspired setting.

My friend Kate has a deck of cards with a lot of random words on it. You can use it for a game, or  instead, as she likes to do, you can pick 3 cards at random and then create a few paragraphs of a story using those three words.

After we finished writing we would read what we wrote out loud. I haven’t heard feedback on my writing since Spring 2011  which was my final semester at UMW. It  was refreshing, if a little nerve wracking, to read my work  out loud and hear other people’s comments.

I found it interesting to see my friend’s different writing styles. I tend to lean towards more fantastical and magical settings, but my friend Kate has a really fluid style that I think adapts to both the surreal and also the realistic. My other friend Erica tended to write about relationships, especially that concerning the topic of family/romance drama.

One of my weaker areas of writing that I want to focus on this project is that of description. I find myself writing more action and dialogue than description.

In general when I read I like to read books with minimal description. One of the reasons why I am not the biggest fan of reading the Lord of the Rings books is because Tolkien goes on and on describing EVERY leaf and every tree in the story. I don’t need to read 50 words describing one object. I am content with something as simple as, “He walked past a tree.”

Today I made more of a conscious effort to include description in my writing.  —->

Story of the day: 

Temptation (words: lush, crest, hear)

The   crest of the hill was just with in her reach, but she was too bedazzled by the sight of the lush flowers that lined the hill’s pathway. She felt tempted by the exotic aroma that emanated from the golden flowers. They smelled like honey and strawberries. And the color of the flowers! Never in her life had she seen a color so vivid.

She vaguely remembered there was a reason she was supposed to ignore the flowers along this path. Something she had heard from her mother…? Or grandfather? She couldn’t remember.

Just one whiff she thought. I just want to hold it up to my nose and smell it. She stepped off the path and reached out with her hand to touch the closest flower.  She expected it to feel silken to the touch, but instead she felt sharp needles  sink into her flesh.

She started to scream…..