Monday, August 23, 2010

Annoying Traits of Korean Students

All is going pretty well for me right now, and I have no major gripes. But since I'm taking a quick week-long break in America, I wanted to post something tongue-in-cheek so I can get it off my chest.

So I'm putting up a list of things Korean students do that I absolutely hate, and would go nuts over if I was fresh off the boat.

Keep in mind that these things can be chalked up to Korean culture and just the fact that these are kids. I'm basing these on my own teaching experiences, and comparing from my time as a student (although that is a long time ago) and as a camp counselor working with kids (only a few years ago).

10) Slamming doors
     You know you're having class if students are slamming doors. They could be coming in late, leaving or simply entering and exiting rooms with no agenda. You can be certain that that door will slam shut.

9) Being late
     Students are habitually late here. This is definitely because they're a product of Korean culture. I simply expect the afternoon students to be late, and 75 percent of them are. But when the actual school class is late, that blame falls to the teacher. What do you think the kids are absorbing from a teacher who doesn't respect the schedule? Just a vicious cycle.

8) Impatience
     This may be just because they're kids, but my kids at the summer camo never acted this way, so I'm throwing this in the culture bin as well. Anytime I give students a worksheet, kids are asking me what it is and what to do before I can even get the next one passed out. When I play a video, the projector takes about 10 seconds to adjust its brightness. During that time, I will hear 50 times about how the kids can't see. I know you can't see. You don't have to tell me.

7) Swearing
     I know kids swear. My friends swore when I was in elementary school. I'm not dumb. But my friends didn't swear in front of teachers. These kids continue to do it, even if they know I speak Korean. They do it even after I tell them not to. I have to threaten to kick kids out of class sometimes to get them to stop swearing.

6) Disobedience
     But I can't throw them out of class anyway, because they won't leave. When I was in school, if a teacher threw a kid out, the kid left. Maybe the pleaded, but they still left. Not here. I tell a kid to leave. He or she blatantly tells me no. I stop class and tell the kid to get out, they say no. Then they ask me why. But that doesn't matter. I can explain it clearly and they still won't leave. I've successfully thrown two kids out this year. Both times, I had to grab them and pull them out of the room. They fought the whole way. The problem is that there's no real punishment at this level of teaching.

5) Hitting
     That brings us to this topic. I hate hitting. I simply hate it. I'm not some softie, either. I wrestled and played hockey. I like contact sports and I liked hurting people and winning. But they hit all the time. Someone makes a joke. Someone else hits him. A girl drops a pencil onto someone else's table. Someone gets hit. They play a ton of stupid games where the punishment is hitting the loser. When the rest of the world sees pictures of Korea's congress in over-dramatic half-fights, know that it all stems from the fact that they're raised in a society where hitting is the norm. When I was a kid, a fight USUALLY didn't start until one kid outsmarted or out-witted the other. That was the offensive thing.

4) Touching
     Now, any of my friends will tell you that I don't like to be touched, but this goes to a brand new level. Besides hitting each other, kids aren't shy about touching the teachers as well. One of my friends had a girl try to do some spinny taekwondo kick to him after he punished her for something. Kids come up to me all the time and touch my arms because I have hair on them. Koreans never see hairy arms, because they have no testosterone in their society (my theory, not scientifically proven). Again, this is a society where dudes hold hands walking down the street.

3) "Suddenly!"
     Koreans have a universal word they use when they're surprised. The English translation is "suddenly," and it basically is used when someone is caught off guard or surprised or shocked. But you have to keep in mind that this is a country where 90 percent of the people are totally oblivious to their surroundings. So you can't get a kids attention without hearing this phrase. The part that's annoying is that when they say it, they look at you like you just jumped out at them in a dark alley. But really you were just standing in front of them the ENTIRE TIME.

2) Sneezing, coughing, etc.
     Part of this can definitely be because they're just kids. When they sneeze or cough, they don't cover their mouth. But here's why soceity is to blame as well. In America, young kids do this, too. But we try to weed it out as they grow up. We remind them to use their manners and cover their mouths. And for most people, it seems to work. Not here, every year the kids get older, but at no time do their manners regarding this topic get any better.

1) Begging
     This might be the worst because it happens EVERY SINGLE DAY. It's clockwork. Kids come in and ask for candy. Or they ask to play a game on your phone. Or they ask to take a drink of whatever is in your cup. EVERY DAY. And they do it with no shame. And when you tell them no, they say you're a bd teacher. Who are these teachers and parents who give these kids everything they want? Why are these kids learning no boundaries? Why do they expect us to be their personal grocery store? Stop touching everything on my desk!!!

Okay, so I feel good venting about that. Like I said, this is stuff that I've mostly come to accept, and only bugs me if I'm tired or having a bad day. Mostly, I just let it pass over me without thinking about it anymore. But I feel relieved to write it down, anyway. Cathartic, even.

The good news is I won't have to worry about this stuff for the next week. Sometimes that's all it takes.

Do you have any pet peeves that students do? It could be in Korea or any other country. What do kids do that really bug you?

1 comment:

Kevin said...

Man, I so agree with you here, it makes me feel better to know that I'm not alone in my opinions of Korean students.

I'm a Korean, who lived in New York all my life, just came back to Korea to teach in an English Academy. The kids in this country are obnoxious beyond belief. Like you, I don't let it stress me out too much, but sometimes it can escalate to the point where I want to tell the kids off in their faces (which I sometimes do, and I feel bad immediately after).

The two worst traits of Korean students for me are the begging aspect and the fact that they don't respect your personal belongings and space. Oh, and can't forget how Korean students ride the bus, if you could call it riding. They charge in all at once, filling up the bus in a matter of seconds, not even caring if an old man or a pregnant lady needs to sit down first. Really gets on my nerves.

My dad, who's lived in Korea all his life, came to this conclusion: it's because Korea got rich so suddenly. Rich Western countries like US and UK gained their wealth slow and steady, giving time for their next generation to appreciate what the older generation has done for them. Korea got wealthy in a matter of decades. The result? Smug little rich brats who thinks they own the country.