What is the first day of school like in Korea? It’s pretty much the same as anywhere else. The students are quieter than normal on the first day. They are entering a new grade so they all have a sense of eagerness that they want to start off the year on a good note. On the first day I taught 6th grade and 3rd grade, two completely opposite classes. I teach 3 sections of 6th grade this year and I know all of them from last year. They are comfortable with me and they can understand me the best out of any grade so teaching them is not too difficult. 3rd grade on the other hand is a different story. For most of them it is their first time learning English since English is taught in public schools starting in 3rd grade. It is also their first time with a non-Korean teacher. About 20 students filed into the classroom with their mouths wide open at the sight of me standing in the front of the room. They were adorable, but by the end of the class I could tell that this group was going to be a handful. I spent about 20 minutes introducing myself by showing pictures of me and my family (of course they can’t understand a word I am saying). Then I ask them if they have any questions for me and my co-teacher translates for me. All of their hands shot up. This class was full of questions. The first one being, “Why can’t we understand her? Why can’t she speak Korean?” This was going to be tough. Other questions followed such as, “Have you ever been on an airplane?” umm…no I swam here. “What are your dreams?” hmm… I guess you could say I’m pretty much living my dream, but I’ll make something up. “What is your traditional food?” well in America we pretty much just eat every culture’s food. “Do you like hamburgers and steak?” Yea, sure, since that’s all Americans eat anyways. “Do you eat bread more than rice in America?” (Most of the questions centered around food of course). I have to give them credit for their enthusiasm and creativity with the questions. When I ask my older students to ask me questions they just give me blank stares. After that we assessed them on their English skills by asking a few questions and having them write the alphabet. Only a handful of them were able to write the alphabet. This class is definitely going to be a challenge. I have never taught English speakers how to read and write, nevermind non-English speakers. But, if they keep up with the same inquisitive attitudes towards learning I think we will have a good year. Thankfully I only teach one section of this class twice a week. I just hope I can teach them something by the end of the year. Later that day while doing some work in my classroom a bunch of them peeked in and whispered, “That’s Jennifer Teacher!” At least they know my name.
I ended the day by taking a much needed Jazz Funk class. It’s been about a month since I have taken a dance class and I was having severe withdrawals. It felt so good to get back into it and see some familiar faces. I still can’t get over how beautiful the new studio is. I just love the environment too. It’s the perfect balance of professionalism and fun. Every class is taught by a world renown teacher, but the majority of people taking the classes are there to have fun, get some exercise, and learn. The dancers are extremely talented, but not overly competitive like most dancers so it’s not that intimidating. It feels so good to be getting back into a routine here! Hoping to make it through the first week alive 🙂