Friday, September 25, 2009

Episode 16: In Which DFM Becomes An Englishee Teacher, And Misses Tim Horton's

Hyenii, the English teacher who invited me to her church two weeks ago, also attends an English speaking club. The club members (about a dozen) meet once a week to learn new English slang phrases and practice reading English articles, in addition to having open group discussions. Hyenii had asked me to attend last Thursday, but I was already busy with the climbing competition, so I told her I would come this week.

Before attending the meeting, Hyenii, myself, and two of Hyenii's friends from the club went to a nearby restaurant for supper. Compared to the mounds of sundae (and a free soft drink) I received in Sillim for $6, the $7.50 for a relatively small plate of breaded fish and pork at this restaurant was pretty expensive. Furthermore, I can honestly say it is the first non-delicious meal I've had since coming back here and the service was nothing to write home about.

The club meets in a cafe I was told was "specially designed for hosting meetings." Essentially it is a cafe in which there are conference rooms that can be rented. They also make a cup of warm chocolate for about one-quarter of the price of an equally bad hot chocolate at Starbucks (to get a good hot chocolate you have to go to Tim Horton's).

The club is led by Tom - who directs the discussions and whom I assume finds the articles. This week's articles were on corporeal punishment (coaches on players and senior players on junior players) in Korean professional sports, and Korean actor Kim Myung-min, who recently lost 44 pounds in preparation and filming of his role as a Lou Gehrig's patient for the film "You Are My Sunshine" (he eventually ended up at 114 lbs, at 5'9"). The role was remarkable considering people with disabilities are normally looked down upon in Korea. Kim was so dedicated to the role, he had to be told to stop losing weight by his director, who was worried Kim might die if he continued losing weight.

The club was overjoyed to have a native speaker at their meeting, but the meeting was a great experience for me as well. For obvious reasons, I do not get to speak English freely while I am teaching kindergarten kids, many of whom have barely mastered "hello" and "good-bye," and when I am climbing I try to speak in Korean as much as possible. Consequently, I had not realized how much I missed being able to engage in deep discussions about controversial topics.

I guess I missed talking a little too much though, for at the end of the night I noticed my throat was feeling rather sore. I was worried that I had talked too much and had hogged all the time, but every one assured me that listening to a native speaker was an important learning opportunity they do not usually get. The club members also enjoyed my "kind hearted explanations" of English slang so much that they invited me to be an official member of their club. I accepted, since I really enjoy teaching, and it is a great networking opportunity for myself as well.

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