When I first came to Korea, in May of 2008, I had never taught a single thing to anybody in my entire life. In fact, my teaching experience amounted to 2 weeks spent at Tottington South Primary School when I was 13 years old. If I remember rightly, the best part of that experience were the jacket potatoes with cheese and beans I'd eat round my mate Square's house at lunchtime. He has a square head, in case you're wondering.
I was thrown into the classroom within 72 hours of my landing, with 10-12 little Korean kids looking up at me expectedly and not a clue what I was supposed to do. I played hangman with them for about a month.
I still have no teacher training. I don't have a TEFL qualification, I certainly don't have a PGCE and I even skipped out on the week's orientation at the start of my contract. The difference now though, is that I teach in an actual Public School! I have 30-some kids in my class! I'm a proper bloody teacher! And I don't know shit!
It's this lackadaisical attitude to employing native teachers that will be Korea's downfall, I'm sure. There will come a time when they realise that employing unqualified nobheads straight out of Uni is not conducive to learning, but that time has not yet come. There is a lot more to be said on this matter, but now is not the time or the place. There are more pressing matters at hand.
The poor level of English speaking in this country cannot be blamed solely on the lack of quality teachers, although that is the main reason. The materials that we use are also quite appalling. We have books with the most useless language I've ever seen and songs that make you want to jump out of the window.
And then there are the videos. Oh, the videos. They are awkward - beautifully awkward - poorly acted, terribly dubbed and use the most mundane dialogue that a true native speaker would never use. They are hilarious.
Bet you wish you could watch one, right? Well here's your lucky day.
I've stolen, for your viewing pleasure, my favourite videos of the school year so far. While you're watching these, just remind yourself that I have to teach them to 30+ kids at the time, and try and get them to take them seriously.
Okay, here's the first one -
Now, there are a few things I like about this. First of all, Jinho (who is the main character throughout my Grade 5 and 6 books and, despite him being a child, deserves to be run down by a truck for having such a stupid face) is dressed up like Prince in his Boy Scout days and, despite supposedly being Korean, speaks with a US accent. Cindy, an unfortunate young girl, appears to be mentally disabled - perhaps blind - and is an Australian with an American accent. Also, I find it rather odd that her first question after meeting a strange boy for the first time is "Where is your room?" and that she then smiles in that breathless, manic way when she finds out it's on the same floor as hers. I detect poor parenting.
Here's the next one -
If I was that lad I'd have turned to that chick and given her a piece of my mind.
"Oh, it's small? Is that all you've got to say? I just saved up my pocket money for 2 months to take you to the zoo and all you can say is "Oh it's fucking small"?? I'm leaving. Good day!"
Here's another -
Okay, I want you to listen very carefully to what the little Aryan girl, Ann, says both times she asks the question. Go on, listen again. I'll wait.
I think you'll find she says, "Excuse me, sir. Is this DERRRR nelson building?" What the hell is that?? I had 90 different kids ask me, "Teacher, what does she say?" and I had to say, "Well, child, she has a mental breakdown, says DERRRR in the middle of a sentence and then carries on her day." The second guy clearly notices because if you look closely, he turns to a mate who's stood in the upstairs window, and subtly - but accurately - calls Ann a wanker.
I've saved the best for last -
So, she looks at a picture of some corn - she looks at a picture of a woman - she looks at a picture of a golfer - she wants to go shopping. Okay, I can vaguely get my head around that. But her husband's bloody mental! Look at him! He's tapping his foot despite there being no music on, he's staring vacantly into space and then leans in to about 3 inches from his wife's face to ask her "when"? And then, when he tells her he can't tomorrow (without divulging the truth that he has a rendezvous with a young boy from work in a love motel tomorrow) he waves at someone. Who you wavin' at, guy? And why is there a stormtrooper in the air conditioning unit? And what the fuck is so funny about Sunday? I think that chick needs to get out of that marriage and go marry a corn farmer or something because her husband looks like he was the product of his dad and his auntie, if you know what I mean.
So basically, my point is, if Korea insists on employing morons like me, and giving them CDs full of bullshit like this, how are the future generations of Koreans supposed to have any chance when it comes to speaking English?
Don't do that, Korea!
Love, Smithy x
N.B. I have not got permission to use any of the videos that I have used in this blog. I am sure I have broken copyright law and blah blah blah...does anybody care? I am raising awareness here. So take that, The Man!