Sunday, July 18, 2010

GEPIK Training

There's an online series about expat social fallacies - erroneous believes that are treated like Gospel among expat communities - and the very first one is the idea that just because we all speak English, we should all get along, as if mutual intelligibility is all it takes to make a friend. That's a steaming load of crap, of course, but I understand why people fall for it. When you can go for days or even weeks without talking to anyone who is fluent in your native language, when you do meet another expat, you tend to latch on them, regardless of how much you actually have in common. This can work fine on an individual basis, but it all comes crashing down when you have to spend the day in a group other expats, which means this is just a long-winded way of saying I had training Wednesday and Lord, are some of my fellow teachers annoying.

The training was held at a local elementary school that had a massive English center. There were a number of themed rooms: the bank room, the grocery store room, two travel rooms - one decorated to look like the inside of a plane and one to look like an airport. There was a "home-stay room" decorated like a typical home that was bigger than my apartment. It certainly had more furniture than my apartment.

The morning sessions consisted of two speeches by local Korean teachers. This is the third GEPIK training session I've been to, and at each one, the lectures are basically the same. They're good speeches, motivational and entertaining, but once they're over, I have no idea what they were actually about. Yay teaching English!? We should not be mean to the students and make them afraid of foreigners? We should make class interesting, for example by starting class with this song that relates to a lesson you should have all already taught? We shouldn't be so wide? I DON'T KNOW. Like the GEPIK training itself, they were vague, ultimately unhelpful and lacking a thesis statement.

The afternoon session was focused on the summer camps, which for most schools start on Monday. First, we were divided into small groups to discuss sample lesson plans from our summer camps. Then we were suppose to spend twenty or so minutes brainstorming as a group on one lesson plan and present the improved lesson to everyone, but my group mostly talked about what a waste of time this was. This part of the training had the potential to be useful and some interesting points were raised, but training was held three days before the camps start. It was way too late for me to implement any new ideas. It would have been helpful several weeks ago, but not on Wednesday.

On the plus side though, I got to sleep in an extra two hours and had Subway for lunch, so it wasn't a completely wasted day.

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