The GEPIK orientation/training is behind us now and I’m sorry to say that it was mostly a waste of time. The whole thing was to short and the lectures were mostly irrelevant to our needs. Apparently this was the first time that the people from the co-ordinater program was asked to arrange this, so fingers crossed it will get better. Only time will tell. The question is, what I would like to see at this that will make me go: “Yaaaaah!”
The very first things that I would like to see is more information on what is expected of us. It’s all well and good to tell us how to teach, but how to teach is worth nothing if we don’t know what we are supposed to teach. There were two presenters from universities who mentioned a) what she things Koreans in general need help with and b) what he needs to see from his students when they walk in to his class, but it seemed noting more than incidental information. Someone needs to say: “Right. This is what we expect from a first grader in Middle School, and from the second grader, and…” They don’t need to tell us how to do it, but again, we can’t do the how if we don’t even have a what. It would seem though the not even the education offices know or understand what we are to do here. We don’t fit in to the Entrance Exam criteria, therefore what we do doesn’t merit the attention the English as a whole does.
The second thing I would like to learn more about is co-teaching. There are people here and there who are working not this, but over all I haven’t seen any of this affect my teaching experience. I have personally tried to get my co-teacher more involved, but it is an individual effort. If I go to my co-teachers and ask them what they think they will generally just say: “Whatever you want”, and I will not be any better off. Both sides need training on how to make this work because at the moment it is only the NTs who seem to have the time and will to do something about it. In the end someone’s time is being wasted and that is time that can been used to do something to help students the way they are supposed to be helped, by teaching them something useful.
Something that was nice was learning who or what the co-ordinators were. It is nice having a bunch of people who are, more often than not, Korean Americans. This provides us with go-betweens who not only speak our language, but is able to speak it our way. They are also capable of understanding our problems because just like we will forever struggle to fully understand those stupid things Korean do, so too will they forever struggle with the stupid things we do. The co-ordinators will go a long way in helping with this.
I am, however, saying “capable”, and nothing more, because we still have to see if that will be the fact. They have skills we have, and their intentions seem good, but will that be enough? The GEPIK co-ordinator leader herself taught for, wait for it, one whole year in Korea. Sure, she is making an effort to further her studies in the field, but that does not substitute for actually experience. What is the situation with the other co-ordinators? I know one teaches part time, but I can honestly say that I am lacking enough knowledge to express anything more meaningful than a question. Also, as an online friend and well know blogger mentions, the Korean American/Australian/wherever, seem to always get caught up in the politics and end up tiptoeing around problems like everyone else. Sure, they might understand and sympathise with our problems, but how effective will they be in a culture where the superior tells the pleb what to think and never the other way around?
(Did you know that there is a special grammatical form/structure in the Korean language for making suggestions or for agreeing with people, and that you are not supposed to use this with your superiors? This translates to the juniors being expected to just sit and nod and never replying unless specifically and directly being asked a question. I am still snooping around to get the full story behind this, so don’t quote me just yet. TOPIK test studies coming in handy already?)
Here’s to another here of the same old same old and here is to hoping that I it will not be so.