Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My First Korean Class

It's possibly that after 14 months of Korea I should have signed up for a Korean class by now. Last year I taught far too many hours a day to have any drive to study after work. The problem was also that the majority of my co-workers spoke English extremely well. I knew just enough Korean to get by in restaurants, taxis and doctor's offices and really, what more did I need?

This year is different. No one at my school speaks English fluently. I communicate using a mix of extremely ghetto Korean, English and over the top gesticulation. Today I had to have someone help me call the post office. It's embarrassing to not be able to help yourself do the most basic things. If I could blush, I would have been beet red for a good 15 minutes while my co-worker L straightened out the problem for me. L is a total sweetheart and didn't mind helping me out but she also understood why I was so embarrassed. A 23 year old who can't handle her own affairs is a wee bit pathetic.

Anyways, as I've mentioned The Hemingway is run by an expat and his Korean girlfriend, H, who decided to offer a free Korean class on Tuesday nights. She was a bit nervous to be giving a class to a bunch of teachers but everyone was pretty respectful and it was a great class. It's extremely hard to teach a mixed level class but H made it work. There was one worksheet on phonics practice for anyone who didn't know the alphabet (like Hooligan 1) and a worksheet focusing on the seasons for the rest of us. It might seem superfluous to learn about the seasons and the weather but think about the majority of quick small talk with cabbies or coworkers. Is there a single day where the weather isn't mentioned? I think not. And since we are a group of teachers, while H was helping out the lower level students catch up, the more advanced students helped the middling students like The Female Kiwi and myself. I got so excited, I learned how to ask what is your favorite season, answer the question and then answer the question why. (My favorite season is spring. My birthday is in spring.) I also learned how to say 'you are bad' and 'he is a playboy.'
-I am good at hearing a word and writing the correct (or almost correct) spelling.
-I still cannot tell the difference between ㅐ and ㅔ or ㅓ and ㅗ sounds to save my life.
-Nothing is better than a class where you are openly encouraged to drink during the lesson.

This morning I got to work and made flashcards for all of the words I learned yesterday. I am obsessed with flashcards, they are the fastest way for me to imprint new vocabulary or information into my brain. Once at the checkout I think I had several dozen index card packages in my cart with miscellaneous other school supplies.

Cashier: Are you a teacher?
Me: Huh? No, I'm a college student.
Cashier: Oh, I just thought because you were buying so many school supplies and you know, teachers get a discount...
Me: Nope, I'm just a total dork.
Cashier: Ah.

To be fair, how many non-teachers are able to fill up a cart with school supplies when they are only buying for one person??

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