Friday, January 7, 2011

Winter Camp is a lot like the zoo: it's full of monkeys.

In Korea, work is abundant, no matter your age. Even during vacation, when public schools are closed, students are sent to winter camps to practice English. It goes without saying, then, that winter camp season is almost essential to native English teachers like me. For me, this is a month-long experience in January a chance to work in smaller groups of students and use more creativity in my lessons.

For the students, it's a chance to go wild, put stickers all over my hands, and ask me questions until we're both blue in the face. But at least they're using English a good percent of the time the chaos is happening, so it all comes out in the wash.

At the beginning of the week, all of my students looked something like this:

So it was a little difficult to communicate.

But we took some time to get to know each other, and now we can have conversations between classes. Questions from my students at camp usually revolve around these topics:

1. Where does Laura Teacher live? (I never give a direct answer since I live so close to my school)
2. Does Laura Teacher have a boyfriend? (every student wants to know this from their foreign teachers)
3. Is Laura Teacher French? (surprisingly this one gets asked a lot)
4. What is Laura Teacher's phone number (this one is, for obvious reasons, also a secret)
5. What is my name? (students love to ask teachers this... I'm beginning to realize how bad I am with placing names to faces!)

The most popular one today was, "Laura Teacher, how old are you?" Due to my young age, I decided to keep this one under wraps as well, and now tell students I'm anywhere between 65 and 103. Today I chose age 78, and it sparked an interesting discussion:

Again, at least they're using English. Even if I'm a grandmother.

By the end of the week, I found some harmony when I decided to teach my students a Beatles song. Multimedia is an excellent way to engage students, and the song choice turned out to be perfect, even for low-level students.

All the same, I'm planning on bringing bananas next week for those monkeys. I don't want them to turn on me.
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