So, I am in Korea. I have been here for two weeks now. With this location change also came a vocation change. I am in Korea and I am an English teacher. Those childhood dreams of teaching have actually come true. No more teaching stuffed animals, walls, and cats. I have real students who live and breathe and misbehave. This is going to be so awesome. I just finished my first real class syllabus, and I have to say I am super excited about the class.
It feels so weird being a teacher. Sometimes I think, what do I know to teach? As I said, I am teaching English. For over two decades I have been honing my English skills- conversing, writing, humoring, reading- and yet I still cannot remember exactly what a hyperbola does or how to efficiently structure a sentence. I speak and write in broken English, adding pauses and breaks where I feel they must go. My usage of English is all relative; subjective, if you will, instead of the objective English I am going to teach. But language isn’t objective. I mean sure, you can learn the rules and codes of conduct for the mechanics of a language, but when you use a language- I mean actually dive in and work out its curves, a language is hardly objective.
For example, slang. It is only when you put a language on- button the pants, pull on the shirt- of a language can you use the slang of that language. It is only when you have slept in the bed of words can you throw them out like a boomerage and expect them to come back. And this process is hardly objective. Instead, wearing a language, diving into a language, is diry. You get mud up to your knees, and spill words on your fresh shirt. Using- embracing- a language is more than learning the objective mechanics. Truley using a language is to make it subjective- to make it yours.
I guess all of that to say that I am just not sure I have done that with English. I once heard that if you can be humorous in a language, you have mastered that language. I am not very humorous in English, even though I have spoken it my entire life.
Being in Korea gives me a break from English, even though I teach it. Korea allows me to take off my shoes, and stretch my toes, and then try on another, different, pair of shoes. Shoes that are packed with culture with every character in the alphabet, with every idiom and common greeting. I like trying on new shoes.