On the last day of my contract my primary co-teacher took me and five English co-teachers out for a last lunch. She chose a raw fish restaurant, and the food was really really good. I brought along with me my Canon 400D and Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens to take pictures. I had considered doing a group photo but the vibe didn’t feel right, so I just took pics of the food.
A while ago I wrote a post called, Raw fish lunch with Korean English co-teachers . . . and a discussion about being a “little too strict., and funnily enough the same young male Korean English teacher had to make some passive aggressive digs at me. After I took the first picture, the same teacher leaned over to me and says, “Jason, do you know that in Korea college girls like taking pictures of new foods when they try them?” I looked him dead in the eyes and said, “I’m not Korean, and I love taking pictures. Anyone who uses Korean culture to judge what I’m doing needs to learn more about English culture.” SNAP!
Anyways, I let him have what I’m sure he thought was quite the smart and lethal winning comment–right, I’m going to lose face because some insecure wanker wants to try and upset me with comments that I’d expect middle schoolers to crack, NOT–and kept right on snapping pictures of the awesome food.
I enjoyed chatting with the other co-teachers about my upcoming move to China. And then the conversation moved on to co-teaching and new native English teachers–all of them seemed to be concerned about my replacement and how he would do if he was totally new to Korea and to teaching in general. I tried to reassure them that natural raw talent and a good attitude are far more important most of the time than a lot of training and experience (which anyone can get).
English accents, of course, also came up because the new teacher is from Australia. Inwardly, I was laughing a fair bit at the anxiety that this seemed to be causing because even native speakers of English from North America have trouble at times understanding the Australian accent, and it has nothing to do with your English language abilities in terms of whether or not you’re a native speaker but more to do with how much experience you have communicating with a native Australian speaker of English, and whether or not you have been exposed to the idioms and cultural background info you need to have to understand them. I offered reassuring comments, and I hope they don’t worry too much about the accent thing.
The overall experience of my last lunch was generally positive. A lot of that had to do with the fact that the co-teachers who came along were ones that I had formed positive relationships with, and/or had co-taught with in a positive manner. Some co-teachers hadn’t been able to come for the lunch. One of them in particular didn’t come because of some ‘issues’ we had with each other while the English speaking tests were on at my school; the sad thing about that is that during the first semester I was at the school (and when there were no speaking tests) we got along great. But once the testing prep and testing periods began I ran into several problems . . . personally, I like the guy . . . but professionally, ugh.
Anyways, it kind of sucked that other co-teachers were busy or teaching and couldn’t come to the lunch. I ran into some of them later and we chatted at my desk for a while before I had to leave, and said our goodbyes then.
It’ll be interesting to see if any of them email me in China asking for tips on how to co-teach better with a native teacher–though I’m not holding my breath.