Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Like I’ve told you guys before, I am working extra as a private English tutor for some Korean kids (nothing I applied for –it just fell into my lap. I was approached and asked if I could teach a 10-year old Korean girl by a Korean family one day when I was studying at Starbucks. The fact that I have no previous teaching experience didn’t matter –I guess my blond hair made up for it- and then it was on) and I have to say that I find the amount of pressure those kids are under quite… appalling.
Since the first Korean family was so happy with my ‘work’ (when I started teaching their daughter the girl was very shy and quiet and didn’t really dare to speak… I therefore decided to skip the books and the grammar and just focus on getting her to talk on her own… with the help of games, questions and me not being scared of making a fool of myself I managed -1 month later I couldn’t get her to stop talking! All her English was there –she just needed to work up some guts to start using it. Once she did, things went fast. In school, she was moved up to the ‘highest level of English’ in her class and the parents –who couldn’t even read the letter she got from the school, because their English is non-existent- thought it was all because of me and looooooved me) they recommended me to another family, that has a 7-year-old son whose English was said to be ‘so bad’.
The problem with this little kid was almost identical to the other Korean student. Although there was also the fact that he was so young. So I focused on games and having fun and only 2 weeks later he too was talking as if he’d never done anything else in his life (and nowadays I get served cheese cake every time I arrived –not so good for my figure I guess but I can tell that this is something I should not refuse… During the first lesson I ‘only’ got a glass of juice).
What I find the most striking with these families is that their kids are so young, but under so much pressure to learn three languages (Korean, Chinese and English) meanwhile their parents… only speak Korean! If I have something I need to say, I communicate to the kids, who then translate to their parents. School letters, grades and such (some things that the kids don’t understand) I have to read and explain to the kid, who then explains it to the parents.
Both dads of the two families are working in another city and the moms are typical ‘taitais.’ Home all day doing…. Yeah, what are they doing? Well I have actually no idea but I would guess.... Cooking? Cleaning? Well, they both have an ayi for that? Shopping? Telling their kids to do homework maybe?
Just the other week the mom to the 7-year-old stopped me on my way out, asking me (in poor Chinese) if I was still studying at Suzhou University (something she knew via the other family).
-Yes I do! I said. Oh, you can also speak some Chinese?
-Yeah, I studied there last semester. Only level 1.
-Why did you stop?
-I am too busy nowadays… with my sport studies.
-Yeah, I play golf!
-Oh, right…. Great!
Yup. Let the kids learn the languages so the mom can play golf. I know that things are different here to where I come from –but I still cannot stop wondering why these families put so much pressure on the kids meanwhile they are not willing to learn for themselves? Both moms are still quite young. Does personal goal go down the drain as soon as you pop out a baby over here?