Thanks to a bug, I know my kids are learning.

Written by Bessie about Korea, Republic of. Feelin' happy
Bessie_happy
Teaching kindergartners is everything I thought it would be:  snot.  tears.  hilarity.  Sometimes the kids are really adorable and make me laugh, and other times I want to be the furthest place from a child I can imagine.  Every half an hour we rotate various books: Math, Picture Dictionary, English Land, etc.  I say stuff, they repeat it, they repeat it some more.

Children's Day
the occasional coloring provides me with sanity


And so we progress through the day in my very pink classroom with me fighting every urge to speak broken English, and the children trying their hardest to not let their cute little heads explode.  Over the past two months the blank stares have turned somewhat into comprehension, but teaching doesn't exactly provide instant gratification.

Until the day something magical happened: my students started talking to bugs.


I'll explain.  First, I must tell you, Koreans hate bugs.  Korea has more concrete than green space, and the whole country seems to have a phobia of anything natural.  My first few weeks of teaching, the kids would scream their absurd high pitch screams and run to the door to escape a gnat.  They'd smash bugs in the window frames with this psycho "must eradicate the species" sort of look.  I made it my mission for them to overcome this.

Growing up with a father that would catch a spider, a wasp, anything and let it go, I inherited a personal philosophy to not kill bugs, and I, too, always catch them and let them go.  Buddhism used to be very popular in Korea, but the whole "not killing thing" didn't get passed down to my students.

So, I began to personify the bugs.  I told the kids that the bugs just wanted to fly back out the window and look for their friends.  I told them they didn't like to be inside, but wanted to play in the trees and flowers.  I'd catch them, let them look at them, and then toss them out the window.

So then the Magic happened: Nemo came.


One day, we're sitting at lunch, and one kid points up and goes, "Teacher!  Bug!"  One girl starts to get a paniced, I might scream face, when out of no where, the worst english speaker in my class goes:

"Hello, Nemo.  How are you?" 
Yes, that's Nemo like from Finding Nemo, who's in one of our books.  The kids all laugh.

"Are you hungry, Nemo?" chimes in another kid.

I start laughing and almost crying with happiness all at the same time.  I've never heard my kids talk like this in natural conversation.  So I make up a very deep, sort of Barney voice back for Nemo:  "Hello class.  How are you today?"

They're all laughing, and all start yelling to the bug.  "Where's your family?"  "Want some kimchi?"  "How are you, Nemo?"  The English starts pouring out of them, from some place wonderful, and the best part is, they're all enjoying it.
my kids at lunch

Eventually, the bug flew out the window, but my pink classroom will never be the same again:  My kids can speak English.

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