Monday, July 03, 2006

long dingle-dong day

My day started at 8am after a fitful night's sleep. It seems to be my curse to sleep poorly before the start of a new term. It turned out that I didn't have to be in the office until 1:30pm, because today was to be devoted entirely to placement testing for the students in both our regular and intensive conversation classes. I'd known about the intensive placement testing; the testing for our regular courses was something new. I admit that, despite the inconvenience, such testing is a step in the right direction as our department continues its long struggle to define itself (and I'll say no more on that issue).

Placement testing took two hours, and we ended up with more students than the office anticipated. The office had told me last week that I would likely have one class cut off due to lack of students; this afternoon, the office went back and forth as to whether I'd have a fourth class to teach, and by mid-evening they had concluded that, no, my services wouldn't be necessary-- as they'd said in the beginning. Vacillation is just part of the reality here, so I'm not all that annoyed by the outcome; I spent my free time in the office revising course calendars, creating worksheets, and speaking with our new TOEFL IBT teacher, NY, who is replacing the recently married and departed WS.

I finished my evening around 8pm... eleven hours in the office. The true grind starts tomorrow as we begin in earnest. Because I am missing a fourth class, I will be given makeup work to do, likely more student ratings from our testing office. I don't begrudge such work; each student rated counts as 30 minutes' time, so if they give me a batch of, say, 60 students to rate, I'll have made up more than a month's worth of "unworked" hours, and the overage becomes overtime pay (admittedly a pittance, but better than nothing).

Along with all this, I've established an English circle for interested low-level students-- which reminds me: if you live in Seoul, speak fluent or near-fluent English (I don't care whether your linguistic background is Korean) and are interested in meeting some very nice ladies for a relaxed, two-hour, TV/book-and-chat session every other Friday this month, please email me and I'll tell you where we're meeting. I'd actually like to mix in a few (read: 3 or 4) anglophone foreigners, and so would the ladies (they're especially on the lookout for handsome guys, just so you know), who are dying to practice in earnest. They're also sick of looking at my ugly mug, so your presence will be most welcome. By the way-- if you're a lady in Seoul who might be interested in joining our group, don't be turned off by the Smoo girls' hunt for men: to be honest, they'd be happy to jaw with any English speaker, male or female.

On Fridays, I'll also be hosting a free basic-level French course and English pronunciation workshop. The goal of the French course will be to impart the absolute basics to students-- alphabet, basal phonetics, the notion of grammatical gender, a few high-frequency nouns and pronouns, along with some common interrogative and declarative structures. How will it go? I haven't a damn clue. But it's something I've been wanting to do formally at Smoo for a while, and I think the only way to make a French program gain momentum will be to-- gack-- teach for free. I consider it a kind of karmic investment. I'll report back later on how the experiment goes.

Now... I'm wiped out, but I've still got Namsan and book stuff ahead of me this evening. Perhaps a quick power nap, then back to the keyboard, and then up that fookin' hill.


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