It’s exactly 6 months since I hopped on that plane and left England’s green green grass for South Korea. As with many English teachers out here, there was so much I thought I would have achieved by now; paid off my student overdraft, become fluent in Korean, seen most of Korea and half of east Asia, decided whether to stay for another year or not, grown to love kimchi, the list goes on.
Well, despite all of my grand predictions the truth is I haven’t done any of those things (sorry Mum and Dad!). No, I’m not fluent in Korean, but I can get by and I’m doing a weekly language exchange, so maybe I will be in another 6 months (ha, who am I kidding!). The furthest I’ve got from Incheon is Seoraksan on the east coast, and the furthest I’ve got from Korea is Tokyo; I really didn’t bank on this job malarkey getting in the way of my travel plans. Still not made up my mind for sure about renewing, and I absolutely cannot stand kimchi.
Without wanting to get into the whole smushy ‘I’ve grown so much as a person‘ spiel, I genuinely feel that I have learned a huge amount over the last 6 months.
Turns out that despite me insisting to my Dad over Skype a couple of weeks ago that I’d like to see him try to teach a bunch of 5 year olds English for the first time in response to a quip about not having a proper job, teaching really isn’t so difficult. Of course, I felt differently 6 months ago. I was absolutely petrified walking into that classroom for the first time; what if they don’t like me, what if their parents don’t like me, what if I accidentally teach them swear words.
By the time I’d got my head around teaching kindergarten I was faced with the dreaded 13 year olds. Flying them around the classroom like Superman and giving them Angry Bird colouring pages probably wasn’t going to wash with them. Time to actually impart knowledge. But that’s when the pressure really kicks in. Just how much about the quirks and exceptions of English grammar do we really know? How many times can you be told that, ‘teacher’, you’re spelling ‘favourite’ and ‘colour’ wrong before you start conforming to Americanisms? And why can ‘-ough‘ be pronounced in a multitude of ways?
Anyway, with a few minor mistakes along the way, mostly in the Geography department, both the students and I have got through the last 6 months largely unscathed (except for that incident with Ryan’s front teeth).
I’m sure there will be many more learning curves to come over the rest of my time in Korea, however long that may be, but it’s all part of the fun right?