Thursday, June 4, 2009
Telling my students, "한국말 몰라요!" (translation=I don't know Korean) and watching their brains slowly implode. "But Teacher," they wail as they try to process me telling them I can't speak Korean IN Korean, which means that I can - in fact - speak Korean, at least a little. "You Korean speaking now!" I just smile, repeat myself and watch steam slowly pour from my kids' ears. They like the sneak up behind me and shout, "Teacher! Hello Korean speaking!" in an attempt to trick me into using Korean, therefore admitting that I DO speak Korean and allowing us to drop this ridiculous English speaking façade. This, plus my habit of answering question asked in Korean
*, has my students CONVINCED that I actually can speak Korean and won't, just to be mean. *This actually isn't that hard. There's a very finite number of questions I am regularly asked in class and it's not that hard to learn the necessary vocabulary to be able to understand them. Blah blah blah something in Korean 아니오 책 means, "Teacher, I have forgotten my textbook." I don't have to be able to understand what is undoubtedly a sob story about how the dog ate the textbook to be able to understand that sentence. No (아니오) and book (책) are sufficient. Plus, it's really not that difficult to guess a lot of what they're saying. While speaking the same language is nice, it's not actually that necessary for basic communication, and little kids are ridiculously expressive. Blah blah blah something in Korean 아니오 책, plus pointing down the hallways means, "Teacher, I have left my textbook in my classroom. Many apologize and, with your permission, I shall go fetch it. Be back, prepared for class, in a jiff." I nod, wave towards their classroom and tell them, "Okay, but next time, remember your book before you get to class." The student runs off, the entire exchange was conducted without either of us having the slightest clue what the other person was saying, the other students stare at me and exclaim, "Teacher! He Korean speaking! You understand! WHAT?!" All I'm saying is, kid, if you're doing a little jig and pointing down the hallway, I don't need to know the word 화장실 to know you need to take a leak.