Christmas has rolled by, along with a crazy two weeks of winter camp. For the uninitiated, winter camp is a period during winter vacation when the kids and the native English teachers have to come back to school. For me, there was no period in between Christmas and winter camp. I had the day off for Christmas, and was back to work the next day. Actually, Christmas in Korea didn’t even feel like a holiday to me. Yes, I met up with friends, and had a good time; but it did not feel like an occasion separate from the general goings on in life. I wonder if in a short while it will hit me that I missed a Christmas celebration?
So back to winter camp. I taught the same 80 minute lesson twice a day, for nine days, at three different schools. That was a lot of jumping around for this waeguk! Fortunately, one of those schools was my own, so I knew where I was going a third of the time. Since the school I work at (along with the other two) is a Global School, we had to focus on global issues for our lessons. My lesson was focused on Infectious Disease…..for Korean third graders. Imagine having a room of third grade EFL students, whose language you only speak rudimentary, for eighty minutes without any other adults in the classroom. I simplified the subject matter a great deal in order to keep the kids attention.
Still, there were points during the lesson that were a real struggle to convey without the help of translation. One of my co teachers had helped me translate certain phrases in my powerpoint, such as bacteria, virus, fungi, and protozoa. The funny thing is, the Korean words for bacteria and virus are….wait for it…bacteria and virus! Yes! It’s in hangul, but it’s the same pronunciation. It’s kind of wonderful how many loan words are in our languages.
One thing that has become very obvious is that music is a universal constant in cultures. In between the lessons, I had the kids in my class for fifteen to twenty minutes for snack time. I played them some music videos to lighten things up. Oh boy do these kids love Frozen. Of course. Anyone who stepped off a plane in Korea could tell that Korean’s love Frozen. But more surprisingly(or maybe not), the kids love Pharrell Williams, “Happy”. They go crazy for it. I even caught one kid bouncing along to it, and joining in every time the word ‘happy’ popped up. See if this doesn’t put a smile on your face.