Sunday, September 5, 2010

Cultural Differences

Saturday was my first Public Speaking class at Yeouido Girls H.S. I mentioned this a week or so ago, so I don't blame you if you don't remember. I understand I was selected because I'm an excellent teacher (of course) and because I have the background--I hold a BFA in Theatre/Speech. I accepted, reluctantly, being loath to give up a perfectly good day of the weekend, because the money is quite good. And I really want the opportunity to teach a class full of outstanding English students.

The format is this:
1st hour: A Korean teacher teaches solo
2nd hour: I teach public speaking and debate, with the first teacher as my co
3rd hour: I teach public speaking and debate, with a different teacher as my co
4th hour: the second co-teacher works solo, mainly doing review, journaling, etc
We decided the co-teachers will switch so that neither one is always early or late, especially considering the 4th hour is pretty easy, teacher-wise, and the first hour is, well, early.

I have worked up a pretty good curriculum, based on college PS curricula and lecture notes I have found on-line. Why re-invent the wheel, right?

My first activity was the riddle game. I have previously prepared a bunch of riddles with their answers in a Word document table, riddle on the left, answer on the right. I cut the riddles into strips and then cut the answer away from the question. I pass these out, two riddles and two answers to each student. BUT, you get the answer/punchline to *someone else's* riddles!

So, a student reads a riddle. Whoever has the answer (or thinks they have the answer) reads it. Laughter ensues. This is a jolly good icebreaker since personalties emerge and everyone laughs.

What does this have to do with cultural differences, I hear you asking. Be patient, I'm getting to that. The thing is, of course, that many riddles are laguage-specific. This is intentional on my part. Even the co did not get this one:
Q: What do you get when a T.Rex bites your arm?
A: A dino-sore.

I'm not saying that's just totally hilarious, but a person with an adequate grasp of English should at least appreciate that "saur" sounds like "sore", and sore means "hurt". So, that's not really my fault.

However, there were acouple of perfectly fine English riddles that fell flat on their face because I forgot or was unaware of cultural differences. Fore instance:
Q: What did the envelope say when the man licked it?
A: Nothing. It just shut up.

In Korea, gummed envelope flaps are a recent and rare phenomenon. To close an envelope, the Postal kiosk provides a few glue sticks, along with scissors, pens, that sponge pad to wet your fingertips, etc. No licking envelopes here!
Q: Did you hear about the guy that ran into the screen door?
A: He strained himself.

Okay, partly the failure of this one is language, as "strain" has several meanings (crucial to the humor, natch), but it's mainly because they don't have screen doors here!
Q: What's the difference between roast beef and pea soup?
A: Anyone can roast beef...


John from Daejeon said...

You are showing your age with the envelope joke. Most people under 20 back in the U.S. are only used to self-adhesive ones.

Also, in the movie, Real Genius, we are introduced to the evolution of the teacher/student from a hands-on relationship into one utilizing a cassette/tape recorder (3:30 in the video) which in 2010 has now undergone an iPad transformation as my young nephew entering college has just found out. He can now access his texts and lectures without having to get out of bed via his portable electronic device and his university's insistence on having all incoming freshmen utilizing them.

I just wonder how long it will be before Microsoft starts their own world-wide Microsoft University and delivers the knowledge of the best and brightest professors from around the world directly into students’ homes without the need of the students attending a four-year institution and at a mere fraction of the cost. Eventually, this will seep down to the public high school and middle school levels where parents of all incomes will be able to give their children the same high-level education that any child entering the Harvards and Yales of this world have. Where it leaves teachers, especially those not performing up to par, is a whole other story and one with some far-reaching massive unemployment problems.

조안나 said...