From an email about my mess-up at school.  Near the end was this:  (I think this was in reference to my melt-down at the restaurant last week?)


I want you feel happy to work here and work with us.

I wanted you to help you in many ways, but I couldn’t afford to do that.

I feel stressful with a lot of work and my students.

In case I can’t help you, using a Englsh-korean dictionary can be helpful.

OK. So I’m left without any attempt at socializing because

but I couldn’t afford to do that

See?  Being kind to foreigners is a financial burden!  (knocking head against wall) and the sympathy I get for not being able to communicate is

ADDED: hmm.  maybe she was referring to time and not money…

In case I can’t help you, using a Englsh-korean dictionary can be helpful

Um,…If there wasn’t a dictionary in my cell phone, I’d have killed myself by now…

This is actually (sigh) a very supportive (sigh) note.  But a lot of times our conversations feel like I am getting a lashing.

For example, when I ask a question and am anticipating some advice, I hear, “You better . . .”  I always have to check myself and remind myself that this Korean obviously doesn’t know that these words begin an admonishment or come as an order, and the intonation sounds like an admonishment or an order, even though I know that the intent was (hopefully) kind.  I tell the students that English sounds harsh, and that they can soften the language by acting and putting their emotions into their words and to soften their tone, but the adults aren’t able to do this…

Some days I’m just all bloodied and black and blue, but you have to suck it up and be thankful that you heard someone speak a word you recognized.

And I’m being asked for hand-outs again.  Immersion shouldn’t be about reading freaking hand-outs.  These kids don’t need more hand-outs, which will just end up in the recycling bin anyway.  These kids need to hear a native speaker saying, “Oh, I would try doing this or that.”  Instead of, “You Better . . .”

5 thoughts on “sigh

  1. I made it a point to explain to my coteachers (after getting to know them) that “You’d better” is really harsh.

    One of them explained that it comes from a (bad) translation of the Korean meaning “it would be better for you to…” They had no idea it was more like, “You must…”

    Fortunately, they’ll all been reformed this year. I even managed to convince one of them that clapping and exclaiming “WOW!” when a grownup speaks Korean is pretty insulting. We’re making progress!

    baby steps…
    baby steps…

  2. I know, I know…

    For some strange reason I’m intimidated to correct this particular co-teacher, whereas I wouldn’t have been last year.

    But the “WOW!” thing cracked me up. I totally quit trying to speak Korean and clammed up last year because every time I did Young-a would make a loud announcement to the whole office, “Leanne just spoke Korean! Hey everyone listen! Leanne spoke Korean!”


    Btw, today’s handout was lying in piles all crumpled up all over the room and I had to gather them up and throw them in the recycle bin. There’s one geeky sweet boy who always tries to carry my things and looks totally downtrodden and embarrassed to be Korean when nobody listens and they make origami out of the handouts.

    But orders are orders. I will kill trees and bleach them and heat up the office copy machine to eat…

  3. Hey T-hype, where’d your blog go?

    Anyway, we should have a drink together sometime…

  4. blog’s still there as much as I can tell… as for updates, that’s another matter. ;)

    i think you can see my email addy right? send me a message. i’ll have time once school gets out next week. ^_^

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