Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mr. Akemann

I've been back in Illinois for a bit now, doing nothing as usual. Today I finally subbed at the local high school for the first time. That was weird. I was a student there five years ago and now I'm on the other side.

Let me first say that I had no idea how much I've changed in the last five years. I haven't felt so conspicuous and obviously not part of the norm since India. Walking around in the hallways, I don't think I could blend in with them if I tried. And really, I haven't changed that much, physically at least. I'm the same height and the same weight. I may have a slightly "older" looking face, but not something big enough to notice off the bat. Nevertheless, it was clear everywhere I went that I was a teacher and clearly not a student. It's so odd.

After teaching elementary kids in Korea for a year, I don't think I could have been more prepared for today. I subbed the level three ESL classes. I used a lot of the same disciplinary tactics, which was odd, but it worked. I had to bust out the "teacher face" only a few times, with mixed results.

But really, the biggest difference is the language. These kids speak English exceptionally well. I could have complete conversations with them. Of course, I immediately reverted back to my I'm-talking-to-Koreans voice, complete with good annunciation and repetition of important parts of what I'm telling them, but they understood. It was amazing having students who could understand what I was saying. They just couldn't read very well. In fact, some of my Korean students could probably read just as well if not better, but their speech was enough to make up for any drawbacks in reading. Verbal communication is important in life. Reading and writing is extremely important for some stuff, but not completely necessary. At least... that's my standpoint.

Anyway, I was impressed. Based on the flack the ESL program gets in U-46, I imagined it'd be a circus of kids who don't speak any English (basically my life last year). I'm sure level one students and elementary school is a different scenario, but the students I had today were just kids... er.... young adults who need more attention focused on reading and writing.

1 comment:

Book Look Column Author said...

Good for you - working again. And they actually pay you well for it there as opposed to here.
I subbed in a kindergarten class this week and I had one child that was born here but due to speech problems absolutely unintelligible. He asked "what is your favorite color?" but it came out wha wore wawor wower?" I tried so hard not to embarrass him or hurt his feelings so I asked him what he would answer (devious eh) and he said "wed!" ahah!