Friday, November 07, 2008

Work Frustrations

Work is pretty stressful this week. We just got new books, and one of them is ridiculously hard. It's way above the students' levels (I doubt even some of my Korean coworkers would be able to understand it fully), and the subject matter is not suitable for elementary school students - it has questions like "how much do you smoke? Would you marry someone who smokes? How many lottery tickets do you buy each week? What are the pros and cons of using credit cards? Would you ever sign a prenuptual agreement? What do you hope your children will be?" and discussion topics like "My friend smokes and he said I should try it". This one is obviously to provoke a debate about smoking, but there's no way elementary school students have that understanding or experience, let alone the language.
So, I went to my director and explained all of this, and she said "just skip those questions." It's absolutely not that easy, and it's still in the book for students to read, so I said I couldn't do that. After an extremely frustrating conversation trying to make her understand that 1) the language was too hard and 2) the topics are inappropriate for children, and having her keep repeating things like "but you must", I finally said point blank "I'm not going to teach that book." Probably not the most tactful way to put it, but nothing else was getting through. In the end I called a guy on another campus of the school whose job is to act as a go-between and translator when there are problems between the foreign and korean teachers. He's a Korea who grew up in America, so he is bi-lingual and also understands Western culture. He understood the problem with the book at once, and talked to my director who finally agreed to find a new book. For the rest of the day she ignored me and acted like I killed her dog.

1 comment:

Rick said...

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My name is Rick.
I've enjoyed your wonderful article.
I'm running a website related to Korea and English.
Now we opened a new section named 'English Bloggers'.
This section introduces Korea-related bloggers' articles with their blogs URLs.
You can post one of your favorite articles along with your blog name and URL, or by asking me.
I bet it'll help promote your blog and be visited by more readers who want to enjoy reading your wonderful writing.
If you are interested, please visit www.KoreanESL.com or email me.
Thanks!
Rick Park (info@koreanesl.com)