Thursday, 9 April 2009

Smokes and Mirrors

One of the things you learn in the teaching English overseas business is that there are often a lot of promises that don't amount to anything.

I have survived my first week - and "survived" is a good word to use. First of all, the day I arrived I was overcome with a heavy cold or flu. My head has felt like it was full of water, and I've used more than my share of tissues in the last week, sometimes wondering if I was ever going to improve. I don't know if it was the traditional medicine given to me by a student, or the antihistamine I bought from the English speaking guy behind the counter of "The Drug Store" or if it was just "time" but I'm better, much better, but not yet 100%.

To run two concurrent courses as I have been doing, is hard enough - but with some of the other challenges I face, I'm going to need a lot of patience to get through. First of all the students were supposed to have a set standard of English. Ooops. Some have very basic English - so are unlikely to make the grade.

The classroom in Woosuk University is good. I can do many of the things I want to do - but the promised resources have not materialized. I've been promised data projector, CD player, butchers paper, and so on. But when I ask there is a flurry of conversation between the Korean guys, and nothing eventuates.

I don't know where I live. Strange. But I cannot read/speak Korean, and do not have my address written for me - as promised. If I get lost, or need to get a taxi home, I have not got the information I need. There is a system for rubbish removal - household waste - and after a week I am still waiting for the promised special bags.

I have been told that I will get help to open a Korean bank account, and will be shown how to transfer money to or from Australia. That has not happened.

Running two concurrent programs is a challenge at the best of times, but the students switch classes on me. Two nights in a row I had 6 in the class, and last night (without any indication that there would be a change - 12 turned up, and of course I did not have the handouts for them.

The weekend class has 22, and the week night class can have around 6, but if they switch back and forth on me, they'll get a repeat of some things. I don't have a photocopier at the class room, nor access to one anywhere, and the promises for my copying to be done have not resulted in success.

Also the smaller class (6 or so) we get things done very quickly. It takes less time for 6 people to read their work, than it does for 20. So my lesson plans are frequently of the planet.

Today is my first day off since starting the teaching. I am to meet the boss today. It will be an interesting meeting.

2 comments:

Kiwi Riverman - The Writer said...

Don't disappear on us, Di. We won't know where you were or where you were going to or ended up! All in Korean too!

Actually I would have thought the Koreans would have been more efficient and organised.

Cheers,

Peter

Di Hill said...

The funny thing is that my "boss" is Australian. Of Korean origins, he was born here, but is a naturalized Aussie! The Koreans think he is too Australian. I think he is downright Korean. But he's a bloke that doesn't seem to bother to dot is "i"s or cross his "t"'s. I am sure he thinks he knows what he is doing though. He didn't get rich without working hard.