As I chicken-danced my way around the Grade 4 classroom today, I pondered the amusing fact that I have more than 7 years of post-secondary education. I can spell things with the letters I have after my name. And yet, there I was, happily flapping my “wings” and urging my students to “dance like a thirsty chicken!” Amazing. 😀
We were dancing to the feelings song from Maple Leaf Learning:
The music is, for lack of a better word, groovy. 😀 The first class I played it for all started bobbing their heads, making them look a bit like chickens. Aha! I thought. And I had them all stand up, tuck their hands into their armpits to form “wings” and we chicken danced. But they had to dance using the appropriate feeling, i.e. dance like a happy chicken, dance like a sad chicken etc.
This was culturally interesting. Apparently the gesture for thirsty in Korea is to grab your neck and make choking noises. Or perhaps that’s just the gesture for a thirsty chicken….
In my Grade 6 class, the first chapter in our textbook is called “Where are you from?” I always find this an interesting topic choice for a monocultural country. It doesn’t exactly lend itself to stimulating classroom discussions.
“Where are you from?”
“Korea. Where are you from?”
“Korea. How about you? Where are you from?”
Still, if I can get my students to stop asking me “You country is what?” I’ll consider my job well done.
The other part of the “where are you from?” lesson is “How do you spell your name?” Interestingly, very few of my Grade 6 students could spell their Korean name using the Roman alphabet. Shouldn’t this be one of the first things they learn, way back in Grade 3 when English class first starts?
Most students have English names. These are “Western” names they either choose or are given, usually by their English academy or their church. I say “Western” because over the years, I’ve had kids give themselves weird names. I have taught a Skeleton, a Crazy Bob, several Cats and Eagles, a few Cherries, and even a little boy who wanted to be called Madonna.
I’m not entirely sure how I feel about English names. I don’t think I’d want a Korean name. Although, there are days when I think if I get called “Keh-lee tee-cha” one more time, I might jump off the nearest bridge. So perhaps Koreans take English names to prevent us from destroying their perfectly lovely yet unpronounceable names.
Or perhaps they choose an English name because their names are funny to English-speakers. I discovered a few names today that made me snicker (because I have the mind of a 5 year old). In my classes, I have a Beom Suk, a Seok Bum, Yoo Seok, and a Seok Yoo.
I thought about suggesting that these children adopt English names but I couldn’t figure out how to explain that their names were funny without being enormously culturally insensitive. After all, it’s not their fault their name has a different meaning in another language. My own name means ‘tooth decay’ in French.