My Crazy Students

February 10, 2011

Port of clarification here: “crazy” in Korea doesn’t quite have the informal meaning it does among English speakers. That is, most of my students are pretty offended when I tell them they’re acting crazy, thinking that I’m calling them mentally deranged rather than simply bizarre. I figured that out after one of my lowest-level students complained to the Korean teacher about me, saying I was being mean, calling him crazy for his behavior in class – which, if I may point out, was crazy.

Still, it’s this behavior and contact with kids that is all that sustains my soul. As infuriating as teaching them can be at times, the alternative is the none the better. When I was teaching at AEON my first year in Japan, all I could think of was how great it would to get out and find a professional job, one in which I wouldn’t have to deal with little kids yelling, crying, spreading their germs, and being annoyingly loud. When I did finish up and get a job as a technical proofreader in Kagoshima, I couldn’t help but notice I didn’t have as much human contact as I wanted. As aggravating as working at AEON was, talking to my students was very beneficial for me. My adult students were windows into Japanese society, willing to share that information through English conversation. My kids had such unique uninhibited personalities, endless sources of anecdotes for my lifetime.

I’m happy to say the same is true in South Korea.

Take, for example, one of my Gold students (reminder: my classes are white, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, navy, purple, gold, in order of increasing difficulty). Her voice is so distinctive and full of emotion, I nearly always choose her to demonstrate the conversation lesson. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, her friend, a girl who fits the Korean definition of crazy: making animal sounds during class, constantly bobbing her head, and making funny voices when she’s required to speak. I’ve got a boy like that in Blue class who is probably the most disruptive I’ve ever encountered – and I’ve taught at public schools in Thailand! He’s constantly talking to himself or his friends, hitting things just to make noise… I honestly think he has ADD.

But these are the rare ones. One of my youngest girls is probably the most mature out of ALL my students. She’s very reserved, smart, polite, and encourages good behavior in others around her.

My most clingy class is Purple. Although technically Purple is supposed to be a slightly higher level than Navy, my Navy class students are naturally gifted speakers, whereas my Purple ones are just whiny; when I tell them to do a worksheet, they ask a hundred questions where a Navy student would ask only one. One girl is the embodiment of this, calling me over with cries of “Teachhhheeeerrr!” and telling me she is “100% cute and smart”.

Maybe I should start a Twitter feed on things my students say.

One Response to My Crazy Students

  1. Breda on February 10, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    Good stories! Sometimes I wish I taught the little kids–they are so cute!

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