As some readers might know, I have an easy, but often times frustrating, job. I work in at a tiny middle school (Grades 7-9) up near the border with North Korea. It’s a two-story, three room schoolhouse with 30 students total. This affords me the luxury of knowing all my students on a first name basis.
The frustrating thing is that because the school is so small I have large tracts of free time. Indeed, this blog is an offshoot of that free time. I can either waste away my days or I can try to be productive. I’m opting for the more rewarding one. I think. I allowed myself to fall out of the writing addiction. Most addictions are negative, but not writing. I need to write to truly be happy. It’s something that fulfills my creativity and I am working towards something, I’ve rarely been great at long term plans. I’m more impulsive.
Back from that tangent. You’ll notice I go on a lot of tangents in my writing. I wander along many paths as my thoughts scatter hither and yon.
In order to give the most to my school and my students I asked and argued, and was finally rewarded with, an extra class. It’s a voluntary Talking Class. In English, naturally.
Five students have chosen to try this class, all from the Second (Eighth) Grade. The five students are exactly who I expected to try to improve their English, they’re the ones who can see beyond the boundaries of the farms and military bases around this rural area. They can see past the horizon and see that knowledge is a powerful tool and they want to add as many tools as possible before they go on to the next challenge. While Hangul (Korean) is a fine language, it does have a limited application since it is only spoken in a tiny corner of the globe. Going beyond the Korean Peninsula, having another language like English isn’t a bad idea.
These five will come and we’ll talk. Nothing more complex than that. It will be low-key. Read some simple stories and then talk about what the story has been about. Cinderella is the first story. The version differs from the story I know it, which is an interesting thing to think about. I’m reading it in English, after being translated from Korean, but the story of Cinderella is from China before migrating to Europe and being translated into German by the Brothers Grimm, then French and then being translated into English.
The reason for reading from a book is to give them some practice speaking and so I can gauge their level of ability and comprehension. It also gives them something they can read on their own, should they so choose.
Then we’ll get into a discussion about fairy tales and mythology, legends and fables. Maybe stories with morals too.
Yesterday, in typical Korean fashion, two wrinkles were tossed my way. The first, that I’m expected to run this optional class for 60-70 minutes, which is longer than a standard class and the other is that I might be getting a second talking class for the First year students. My co-teacher felt the First grades might be intimidated sharing a class with the Second grade five, which I don’t buy but alright, I can image four students wanting to ‘talk English’ with me. The First graders don’t know about this new optional class yet.
And of course, I haven’t actually hosted this optional Talking Club yet either.
But I’m excited about it. I think it could be very beneficial for the students and will at the very least by entertaining for me.