Tag Archives: ESL students

Korea First Days, Teaching–2

March 9, 2000

Funny thing today.  I am never strict (to my detriment, sometimes)–but by mistake I seemed strict to my students.  I went down my attendance list, marking only absent people.  I happened to pick up a red pen, so I used that.  I marked absent names with F, because I thought it was Friday.  (It wasn’t, though; it was Thursday.)  Later, a girl who was absent came to my office to say she was sorry for being absent, and her friend had told her I marked an F next to her name.  They both thought it meant Fail!  She was so contrite.  It was great!

I forgave her, but I shouldn’t have.  Her story was lame.  She said she thought class started at 10:30, not 9:30.  I don’t think so.

March 10, 2000

Last night, I was getting ready for bed.  I was thinking how funny it was that one guy in Language Practice III said he will be either a furniture salesman or a movie director, he’s not sure which.

I thought, I would love to have someone at home to tell that story to, to laugh with.  Wouldn’t it make work more enjoyable, to have someone to talk to, share with, laugh with?

. . .

Yesterday I saw a nice sight on my way home.  It was about 5:15, and I passed a man sitting on a bench in the little patch of woods between the administration building and my office building.

I’d never noticed that pair of benches, in the woods at the top of the hill, facing away from the path.

What a nice pair of benches, I thought.  I could sit on one of those benches in the woods, thinking, not-thinking.  Taking a breather.

March 11, 2000

In four of my seven classes, the books I ordered are not available in Korea.  So, I have no books.  But I’m not devastated, just a little scared.

It was Ji Yeon Park’s suggestion not to make the students buy a book.  I’m not sure why.  Save them money?  Or maybe she feels–as she said!–that a book is unnecessary.  Although I felt that was easy for her to say, when she didn’t have to teach the class, I realized she’s kind of right.  They need to talk.

But they need something to talk about, and I can’t provide that kind of ongoing stimulus.  I will use Family Album USA for my basic structure.  I found a copy of the video series in my office cabinet.  What luck!  I’ve used it before and I like it a lot.  Students like it too.

Good Memories of an ESL Teacher

I’m cleaning out files. A lot of them are from my years as an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher at the Center for English as a Second Language at Southern Illinois University.

Some of these files make me remember how busy I was, with multiple tasks to juggle every day. I gladly get rid of those. But others remind me of the joy of walking into a classroom with a variety of young people from all over the world and making a little community with them, teaching them English and learning about their cultures and personalities.

This “Grammar Goodbye” that I wrote for one class is an example of the happy memories.  It’s a kind of prose poem. Look at the first letter of each line for the hidden message.  (I think most teachers feel this way.)

In the Grammar 4 class, Abed and John sit together on the side, watching and talking.

Little Mohammed enters, smiling his dazzling smile. “What’s up?” he says, cheerfully unaware that he is late. “The sky,” says Abed, not cracking a smile.
Older Mohammed, such a good student, is already working, with a few other students, on Exercise 12, number 14.
Veronica asks a question about number 3. John asks when the next semester will begin.
Everyone laughs. Then Samuel raises his hand to ask another difficult grammar question the teacher can’t answer.  (Maybe he will teach English grammar some day.)

Adri uses color on her homework papers—pink for subjects, green for verbs. She’s a genius, according to Baheir.
Look at Nadiath, eating ice cream in December! Is she crazy? No. She’s very smart. She just loves ice cream.
Listen to Song Dong. He doesn’t talk very much, but sometimes he sighs very loudly. His sighs say everything.

Over in the corner, Hannuo hides, thinking she won’t know the answers.
Finally Jun makes his entrance, dancing and singing to himself, so carefree. (He was made in Japan! Yay!)

Yes, Hannuo, you do know the answer. Don’t worry!
Oh good, Baheir is here. He had to go to Egypt to find a parking space.
Unique is the word for this funny, lively group of students. I will miss you all!