Things that make a teacher’s heart happy

There is this girl in one of my high level 2nd grade classes who is hilarious. She’s bright, energetic, and crazy smart and has one of the highest English levels I’ve encountered in any of my 700 kids. We had the following conversations in class today:

I approached her table because she and her group members were chatting away in Korean.

Her (noticing me and sensing I was about to remind them to speak English): “Teacher, we are talking about… very serious things.”

A few minutes later, when I came back to check on her group…

Her (pointing at her speaking partner): “Teacher, he will not participate. He only speaks Korean about our private things. This is English class! I am very frustrated!!!”

Me: “It’s okay, you can talk with them too [the other two girls at her table].” (I planned to work one-on-one with the other kid.)

Her: “No Teacher, they are busy. I don’t want to bother them. But he will not speak English!!!! I am frustrated!!!” (turning to him) “Just answer my question okay?? HOW OFTEN DO YOU EAT RICE?!?”

The multiple exclamation points are necessary to express how worked up she was about this. Her face was actually flushed and I could see her mind racing to find the correct way to express herself in English. She started fanning herself in exasperation while I tried to calm her down. She’s awesome.

*     *     *

Hearing the kids walking down the hallway after class and still using the key expressions from my lesson of their own accord. “How often do you _______?” Internalization of language. That’s what we’re going for.

*     *     *

When this happens in my after school class:

Me: “What foods do Korean people usually eat?”

Boy: “된장찌개!” (doenjang jjigae)

Me: “…Soup? What kind of soup?”

Boy: (turning to classmates) “된장 찌개 영어로 뭐지?” <– I hear this phrase on a daily basis: “_______ yeong-oh-ro mwoji?” It means “What is ______ in English?”

Girl #1: “Teacher, beans…”

Girl #2: “For a long time…”

Me: “For a long time? Fermented?”

*Blank looks*

Me: “Do they smell?” (nose-pinching and odor-waving-away motion)

Girls: “Yes! It smells.”

Me: “Is it… sticky, and slimy?” (miming the goopy strings of Japanese natto)

Them: “Yes!”

Me: “Yes, fermented bean soup.”

Boy: “Teacher, spelling!”

 *     *     *

I asked my 3rd graders to write as many pieces of advice as possible for someone who wants to be healthy (practicing the expression “I think it is important to…”). One group of girls came up with this: “To be healthy, it is important to see the person I love so my heart will beat faster.” Cute.


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