Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Teaching in Korean

Around 6pm on Tuesday night I checked my text messages and found a text informing me that I would be teaching my class (the next morning at 9:30) in Korean. Admittedly the text was over an hour old-- but that hour would not make the difference.

Teaching in Korean provides the following challenges:
a. My Korean is not at good as it should be to actually -lecture- in Korean.
b. Teaching in Korean requires assigning readings in Korean. All my books and articles are in transit, so again this means finding entirely new materials-- but this time they're in Korean, so I can't quickly scan across a few paragraphs and get an idea of the difficulty and appropriateness of an article for my class.
c. Preparing to teach in Korean means mastering the information in these readings-- publications that are brand new to me that I must be prepared to talk about and lead discussion surrounding almost immediately after reading (there is no time to prepare for the entire term in advance since it already started -and- since I've got other stuff to do, too).

I began to plan immediately, and although my jet lag was kicking in again, I realized that I had to throw out my syllabus of the same name and rethink the entire syllabus based around the number of classes I'd have, my desire to have exams instead of papers as the major grading element, and the clusters of complimentary readings I could find.

I became more calm after Maria Anna and Sarah, two professors in the Italian Translation Department, assured me that no students at 888 U expected a full class on the first day. They just wanted to know about the workload and get a sense of the professors.

I woke up at 4:45 (getting later everyday) and went back to work on class preparation.

I found the room where professors can photocopy and print things around an hour before class, printed a few articles I thought I might want to use for the next week, scanned through them, then went to my class.

There were four students there, and an odder group I cannot imagine the two extremes were:
a) Chinese student (Sports and Leisure Department) who is not of Korean ethnicity, who has been learning Korean for a year (still challenged by readings in Korean), who cannot speak or read English.
b) Korean student who lived from 5 to 18 in the US (and is now 19), who is challenged by readings in Korean, and wanted to have class in English (English Translation Department).
The other two were somewhere between these two.

I gave a one hour class, getting to know each other and discussing why Korean studies is important for people in translation departments and others as well. I also described in detail how they should prepare for class for the next week.

I think I did not make a fool out of myself, but I'm not quite sure.


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