Friday, November 13, 2009

Student Profile: Kyle

Kyle is probably one of my favorites. He's a short, baby-faced third-grader. Mina doesn't like him as much—he can be kind of an arrogant little punk—but his arrogance is lost on me. It's one of the things that the Engrishee filters out.

Kyle is smart, first of all. He's at the top of his class and so he's the easiest for me to talk to out of all of the other students. Second, he also tries to have conversations with me, or at least responds to my attempts to initiate conversations with him. He seems curious about America, too, and sometimes asks questions about how we do things. Kyle also can be pretty funny, and is really expressive in terms of personality. No dead-panned, stony-faced Korean is he. Beyond that, he's just really adorable.

Last week, when I went to class after the Phils gave up game 6, the first thing he said to me was: "Philadelphia LOSE! New York Yankees champions!" It was hard to tell if the glee with which he informed me of the news was a bit of malicious schadenfreude, or just enthusiasm about being able to talk to me about baseball. Probably both.

"I know! Very sad." I mimed crying.

"You, me, same," he offered by way of comforting. "SK Wyverns"—out came a fist—"Kia Tigers"—another fist—"go go go go go" and with each go he punched a fist successively higher, to indicate their rise to the top—"SK Wyverns lose"—he dropped the SK Wyverns fist—"my sad. Same."

Kyle can be a bit fussy, though. He has a strong sense of justice and fairness, and if he thinks I don't call on him enough, or that the other team is cheating at games, he gets pretty vocal about it.

It's just nice to have a student who's not entirely burned out on work and life as a student in South Korea. Any older than third or fourth graders and they start being miserable and tired and can't be arsed to do anything at all related to English—even if I ignore the textbook and try to talk to them about other stuff I'm interested in. (Case in point: I tried to ask my students today about Friday the 13th and bad luck and superstitions in Korea, and they either looked at me blankly or gave half-assed answers.) It's kind of a tragedy.


  1. schadenfreude????? pretty sad about how the kids are pushed for more, more, more .... do you think their parents experienced the same pressures? at least they don't go to school on the weekend ...

  2. Hah, but they DO go to school on the weekend.

    As for their parents, I'm not sure. Korea when they were growing up was different than Korea now—and of course that's the same all over the world, but especially so in Korea. When their parents were young, hagwons didn't exist. But I imagine it was something similar, nonetheless. Koreans are overworked and underpaid, and have been for quite a while.