The Black Barbie Chronicles: Korean Students: A Lot Smarter than I Give Them Credit For


Haha!  I kid!  This is pretty much me on a daily.  Anyhoo, this week’s selection is a good one.  I rememebr coming to Korea like I was the Great Black Hope; helping Korean students learn English and have fun!  You can guess how this shit eneded up, right? Like usual, please enjoy.

F. M. Laster

“I only like two kinds of men, domestic and imported.” -Mae West

Korean Students: A Lot Smarter than I Give Them Credit For

Babe in Toyland; a babe in Toyland. That’s what I was when I first arrived to live and work in Korea Land. I had so many misconceptions about Korea and her students. I was also very, very naive. I thought that the problem with Korea’s education system for English instruction was that it was set up in a way for students to fail. I felt that the system was set up to make the students feel less confident in their English speaking abilities. I also thought that the worthless, lazy, western English speakers were just here to get their paycheck every month and couldn’t bother to help and teach the students.

I had it in me that I would make a difference. I would be the one native English teacher they would look back later in life and say she made a difference. I thought that I would make learning English fun, exciting, and new again! I had made up my mind that I would not just teach rote memorization so my kiddies could make it from test to the other. Oh no, not Black Barbie! I would make it so that they would know that it’s okay to make mistakes and learn together. You know like every Disney movie ever made with a great happy ending! I would fix Korean English education forever.

Baby, I’m not sure what I was smoking; thinking that I could march right into Korea and play the Great Black Savior. Let me tell you something about these kids of mine. It’s not they are afraid of English; they just don’t want to learn. Students’ failing to want to learn is what happens when a teacher is teaching in an EFL and not an ESL environment. If this was ESL and they needed this shit to survive in an English-speaking environment, you had best believe they would be glued to what I have to say every single day.

English here is an EFL; like Spanish or French, or any other elective they take. They need it to graduate and nothing more. They are Koreans living in Korea! English does not define my kids. My kids can still live fun lives and have successful careers. When will they ever need to use English except in the damn classroom?

Well, that’s the thought that is going through the mind of a middle school student. The students, like others around the world, are young and dumb. They fail to see the usefulness of learning a second language when all around they see and hear nothing but their first! Like most cocky young people, they can’t see that far into the future; they are just trying to get through today and have a good time. The future? That’s not now; they can’t be bothered with it. To paraphrase Scarlett O’Hara, they’ll think about it tomorrow.

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