Tuesday, 1 September 2009

A New Routine

I've had a couple of groups of students writing about their daily routines, so I'll use this as a chance to practice the present simple tense for habitual actions!

I get up around noon. Yes, that is late, but I went in too work early today as I have new classes - this required me to leave at 2pm. So there is a context. I usually eat cereal with lactose free milk (score!) and an apple for breakfast. Today, there's no cereal so it's mandu (dumplings)...I prefer cereal I must say. I take a shower and apply huge amounts of anti-perspirant before leaving the house. The weather has started to cool off a little, but it's still a bit like walking through a sauna.

Then I pick up a cold coffee at the convenience store downstairs, and walk to work. There are one of two routes: along a wide, but not too busy, street with a tree-lined pavement, or through a series of parks. The latter has superior people-watching opportunities and I wish I could just film some of the sights along this route. Everyday there are lots of people selling things along the side of the road: bowls of vegetables are displayed on the ground and tended by 'ajummas' (old ladies), various market stalls sell street food and some even have fishtanks (live fish for breakfast anyone?) and on the main street by the school, you can buy bras from a display laid on the ground. This afternoon I saw a group of little girls outside their school dressed like tiny little belly dancers and shrieking at the cool breeze.

After a lovely 20 minute walk, I arrive at the school to be greeted by the wonderful WONDERFUL air-conditioning, and fight the kids onto the elevator. The teachers' office is on the seventh floor, and I have my own desk. I fetch my laptop from the cupboard, and plan my day's lessons. Today was a little busier than normal as we have new classes, it's a new month so all the folders need new paperwork, and I am now on a more normal (read: heavier) workload.

When the sing-song bell rings, we all troop down to the classrooms and deliver 45 minutes of scintillating EFL material. The first 3-4 classes are all elementary level, followed by another 3-4 of middle school. Over the course of the week, each teacher has 22-23 classes so we aren't doing the full 6 per day that the contract allows for. Today I had three delightful elementary classes – including one group of 'pre-Yale' (read: tiny) students who are utterly adorable, full of energy and cheeky as can be. While tiring, teaching them is good fun – provided you go in fully armed! Of course it is not all so much fun. The last two of the day were middle-schoolers in the throes of puberty who resent having to study English after school. At least 3 students have now pointed out to me that they should be allowed to speak Korean in the classroom because They Are In Korea. While a valid point, it gets tiresome explaining that it is the best way to learn the language their parents are paying us to teach them. These groups are a handful and it's going to take a hell of a lot of work on my part to make these classrooms even remotely nurturing learning environments!

Teaching finishes between 8:30 and 10:30 depending on schedule, and is usually followed by some food with other teachers. So I don't usually get home until around midnight-ish – and that's just not bedtime now. So I watch some cable tv, waste time on stolen wireless internet, or read a book if I'm feeling old-school. My apartment is definitely home now: all my postcards and my world map (from 1981 – go USSR go!) are on the walls and my little collection of rocks has found a home too (yep, I carried rocks all the way here).

All in all, its a pretty awesome routine, and I'm excited about all the stuff I'm going to add to it to fill in the morning hours and force me to go to bed at a slightly more reasonable time.

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