Last week was preparation week. You would think that less than a week to plan for two weeks of classes would be sufficient, but I assure you, my brain did somersaults attempting to organize and file away all that needed to be printed, copied, created etc for this upcoming group. The Russian program is very different than the normal weekly program. In a normal week, we have our classes basically prepared. There is still prep work to be done, but the difference is that this program had to be created basically from the ground up. I am thankful at least we had books available, and the internet is the best thing since butter as far as I am concerned. Most English teachers are familiar with this site but for those who are not; Dave's esl cafe is a LIFE saver. This site's entire purpose in life is to assist those who teach English with games, lesson plans, advice and those who want to find an English teaching job.
When I teach students, one of my main goals is to help them find the fun in learning English. According to the zombie students, sometimes actually having fun while learning seems less like actual fun and more like having open heart surgery. But I still try, regardless of the protests and their unwillingness to be moved by anything but a bulldozer. While preparing for the students, we weren't given a clear picture as to what their levels would be and although I was told to prepare low-intermediate, I couldn't be positive that these kids even knew how to read English.
When they arrived this morning, my jaw bounced a few times like a bouncy ball on the linoleum floor. It has been a while since I have seen so many Westerners, but not only that, they were all blond-haired, blue eye beauties. No joke! You could probably enter 80% of our students into "Russia's next top model" reality TV series (if they have a show like ours.) Who knew Russians were so breath-taking?
In Korea, Russian is synonomis with prostitute. For some reason, there are many Russian prostitutes here. I don't know why. But I do know, that if you are asked "Are you Russian?" by a Korean, they are basically asking if you are a prostitute, and yes, I have been asked that question. There are even t-shirts people wear that have printed in the Korean language, "No, I am not Russian," to keep people from asking.
And the way my students interact, I can never tell if they are yelling at each other or just speaking Russian the way Russians speak. The language which sounds to my unqualified ears to be a mixture of German and French, is spoken with such passion, it is difficult to distinguish the anger from typical speech pattern.
So far I like my class. We have had a short afternoon together and already we have had events:
- Daniel is pronounced differently in Russian. Daniel (my student) does not, I repeat, DOES NOT like the English pronunciation of Daniel. So he chose the English name Parker after yelling at me for my ignorance and mispronunciation.
- I thought I was going to have to break up a fight between Korean students and my Russian students, but when I reached the circle, I found the Korean students and Russian students trying unsuccessfully to communicate in English. The Russian students wanted to teach the Korean students some Russian words. Kind of sweet actually.
- Russian students have hobbies. It's amazing. If you ask a Korean student what their hobbies are, you are 99.99% likely to hear either or all of the following; computer games, sleeping and TV. Occasionally soccer is tossed in there for good measure. The Russians hobbies ranged from graffiti art, to scuba diving to stamp collecting. Amazing! Children with time to have hobbies outside of studying.