All of my fellow English teachers want desperate to learn English. There are two in particular who express an intense desire to gain fluency. Unfortunately, they are not willing to practice. Sure, they say hello in the morning, but as soon as they have trouble finding a word (which generally takes about 5 seconds), they clam up. They continue to stand with me and smile, but they won’t say a word. Maybe if they stand really close for a few minutes, they can absorb some of my English skills.
Several of them have asked me to correct their English, but most do not want to be corrected. I made the mistake of gently correcting a pronunciation error (in private), and that teacher has avoided me since. At least now he knows that there is no such thing as a “tennis rocket.”
I am finding that the teachers’ unwillingness to practice their English outside of class is a real problem for the students. The teachers’ bad habits are passed down to entire classes. These mistakes are growing exponentially. Some of the teachers insist on helping me teach pronunciation. That is not OK. For example:
Me: That’s right. I am from North Carolina.
Mr. Won: Say together now. Norse Carorinia. Yes! You all so good shtudent!
Me: One more time. North Carolina.
Mr. Won: Crass, it very important pronounce correctry. Norse Carorinia.
Or my favorite:
Me: Can anyone find Virginia on the map?
Mr. Kang: Some student must know where is Burzhennia.
Me: Good! It’s next to North Carolina.
Mr. Kang: What direction that? (no answer) That is norse. Burzhennia is norse of Norse Carorinia. Now crass say.
Class: Norse of Norse Carorinia.
I am happy to report that there is one teacher who is taking full advantage of my language skills. Mr. Kim, my coteacher, constantly asks for my help. He spends all of this free time reading passages from a textbook that he bought a few weeks ago. When he has difficulty pronouncing a word, he makes a note and then works with me until he can pronounce it correctly. Progress is slow, because his English skills were weak from the start, but I can already see a bit of progress. It will be my mission to help Mr. Kim improve as long as I’m here.
Until next time.