Wednesday, March 7, 2012

First Impressions and the Texas Flag

I started teaching yesterday!  I love my classes.  I described them a little last week, but now that I have actually taught them for two days, I'll describe them again.

My "Florida" class, the "super sevens," are the highest-level English speakers in the school.  It's really fun to work with them and so far I haven't had to slow down much on my English any more than I would with an American kindergarten class.  They have instruction in English the whole day, one class with a Korean English teacher, one with me, and one with another foreign English teacher.  My other two classes are two parts of one whole class, sorta.  They are individually called "Virginia" class and "Montana" class, but together they are called "Libra" class.  They're given instruction together in Korean for the first 1/3 of the day, then they separately have two English classes: one with a Korean English teacher and one with me.  I could call these my "silly sevens," cause they are much goofier than my Florida class.  Though they are all 7 years old (Korean age, remember), the Virginia class seems younger than the Montana class.  The Montana class is much wilder, but they are after lunch.  I do have to break down my English with that group and speak much more slowly, because they're at a lower level proficiency than the Florida group.  I'm so impressed with them though, for only speaking English for a year or two.  I have a pair of tiny twins in Virginia class, but they don't know that the word "twins" describes them.  Another teacher had them last year and she told me that yes, they are twins, but they don't know the word for it, so today I tried to explain that sisters who are identical and are born on the same day are called "twins."  They looked at me blankly as I tried to explain.  Oh well.

It is soo nice to be teaching again.  I missed it a lot!  We haven't done much bookwork yet, but we have talked quite a bit about day-to-day things which is obviously very very important for building language skills.  Today I gave them some sentence frames, we listened to a couple songs, echo read, counted, and colored.  Ahh kindergarten!  There's a lot of pride (in a good way, maybe even a protective kind of way, taking ownership and responsibility for them) in having your own group of students.  They shout "Zara-Teacher!" when I walk by their class during breaks.  They already give me hugs and looove getting praise and stickers.  :):):)

Today, I brought some visual aids with me to tell the students a little about Zara-Teacher's home.  I took a few pictures of my family and my dog.  They do have dogs as pets here in South Korea, not just as food (gross), but they're all little dogs.  The kids thought that Percy was soo big!  He is big, of course, he's a yellow lab, but since I love big dogs and my family has always had med-large to large dogs, he's normal.  Montana class made these little "yip-yip" barking sounds when they saw him, and I secretly laughed.  Big dogs don't yip, they 'woof' with their big-dog deep voices.  Jeez, kids, get it right!  Haha, but I know they don't have a frame of reference for a big dog's voice, so I don't hold it against them. 

The funniest part, to me, was when I showed them the flags.  I brought two flags to represent my country and my state.  "State" is a hard concept for my kids to grasp, since they don't really have them the way we do.  (Telling people that I'm from Texas is more descriptive of my home than just saying the US, though, especially since we Texans consider Texas to be as good as its own country.  Which it was, from 1836-1845.  This also means that of all the states in the US of A, only the Texas flag can fly at the same height as the US flag cause we were once our own sovereign nation.  Booyah, inferior states.) 

Anyway, when I showed the US flag, I asked my kids to tell me where that flag represents.  Florida and Montana classes got it right, quickly shouting "US flag!"  Virginia couldn't tell me.  Either they really didn't know, or they were unsure if they should speak up.  Probably the latter.  Most of the time I'm pretty sure that they understand me when I talk, but they're much more nervous about speaking out loud than my other two classes.  So, even if they did know, they didn't tell me that it was the US flag.  However, when I brought out the Texas flag, all three classes guessed "Chile!"  So, to recap, Virginia class didn't recognize the Stars and Stripes well enough to confidently shout out "US!," but they were confident enough in Chile's flag to shout it out?  Yes, okay, our state flag does closely resemble Chile's flag, but really?  I never memorized South American flags, so until today, I probably couldn't have told you what Chile's flag looked like and how very similar it is to that of Texas. 

In case you're unfamiliar, here's Texas' flag:

And here is Chile's flag:

So, yes, easy enough to confuse the two, especially when one is "just" a state within a country, and one is actually a country.  But to be able to recognize (albeit, mistakenly) Chile's flag and NOT be able to recognize America's flag?  The injustice!  My apologies to any Chileans reading this blog.  I don't mean to offend, it just really surprised me!  It's been my experience that the Stars and Stripes are very recognizable even outside the USA.  You guys have a beautiful flag too.  From now on I will always recognize your flag, so now I know a total of two South American flags!  So now my students know what Texas' flag looks like and I know what Chile's flag looks like.  And that's what cultural exchange is all about, right?

Here's to a year of crazy stories with my supers and my sillies!

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