This week I had what I hope will be my last Open Class. My co-T is young, sweet and a bit of a loose canon- she doesn’t believe in lesson planning. Thankfully for what is left of my sanity, extensive and thorough lesson planning is necessary for a successful Open Class. And so we planned a fairly typical Open Class with all the expected bells, whistles and dancing bears.
“She doesn’t like it,” my co-T informed me a few days later.
“Who doesn’t like what?” I replied, confused.
“The English specialist. She doesn’t like our lesson plan.”
English specialist? Did they have those in Korea? Why was she looking at our lesson plan? Intrigued, I asked more questions. Was she a native English speaker? Did she work for the school board? What were her qualifications? Would she come to the actual lesson, or just critique from afar?
My co-T had no idea.
Whoever she was, she was a martinet. Our lesson plan had to be EXACT – what we were going to say, what the kids would say, where we were going stand, and what gestures we were going to use. We even had to colour-code it to differentiate between my parts and the co-T’s parts. Amazing.
The big day dawned. My co-T was a nervous wreck. She’d even bought a new dress for the occasion. Our classes were rearranged so we could practise the lesson before the actual Open Class. Twice. By the time the Open Class arrived, the kids were exhausted and I was ready to shoot myself.
The official lesson finally started. The kids were like petrified little zombies. We’d been over the lesson so many times they knew it by heart, but they had never done it in front of a large audience before. My co-T was just as nervous- she forgot all about our colour-coding and took over the entire lesson. I tried to click the Powerpoint slides with as much enthusiasm as I could muster.
Our piece de resistance came about halfway through the lesson. We had taught the kids a song called “I like apples, apples.” We had even made up a little dance to go with it. The kids stood up, and my co-T choked on her water. Over her coughing fit, I sang the first line, hoping the kids would join in and drown me out. (I have many talents but singing is NOT one of them.)
“Do do do do do do, oh!”
At this point, the fruit vendor decided it would be a good time to drive his truck by the school, blaring his sales pitch through his large loudspeakers.
“Oooooooranges, ooooooooranges from Jeju, 5000 won!” floated through the windows. “Baaaaaaaannnnnaaaaaanaaaaas, 3000 won!”
I thought my co-T might cry. Hoping to help, I upped my singing volume.
“Yummy, yummy apples! Apples!” I belted out, sounding I’m sure like the mating call of a woolly mammoth.
It didn’t help. The wan little voices began dying out as they stared from me to the windows and back. At least the fruit vendor was contributing to our lesson topic.
“Aaaaaaaaaaappppples, 6000 won!”
And so I thought I’d relieve the tension during the musical interlude between the verses. I busted out a little Running Man, followed by my best Gangnam style horse dance. All eyes were now on me with expressions of amazement (the principal); disapproval (the English specialist); hilarity (my other co-Ts and assorted co-workers); astonishment (teachers from other schools); panic (my co-T); and amusement (the students).
Unfortunately, the musical interlude wasn’t over. And so I started doing the chicken dance, followed up by a few fake swimming moves, before finishing it off with air guitar and head-banging. I came up for air just in time for the first line of the next verse.
“Do do do do do do, oh! Do you like apples, apples?”
This time, the kids were with me, their voices loud and strong, and their little bodies wriggling along excitedly with our apple dance. Phew!
After the Open Class, the principal came over to shake my hand.
“You….. English…. Berry good.”
“Oh! Um…. Thank you?”
Looking pleased with himself, he strode away. I was puzzled. Was that a compliment? Of course my English is good. I am English.