I sit down at my desk and start putting away books from the class I’ve just finished. The children have run off noisily into the distance, and there is calm once again in my classroom.
I spoke too soon. The children have returned. In fact, they have come running helter-skelter back down the corridor and burst through my door like small tornadoes.
How was your weekend? they all chorus at once, trying to drown each other out. I look at them in some surprise, since I’ve just spent an hour with them and they never showed any interest in asking about my weekend. Still, they are speaking English, and I tend to try to encourage that, you know.
It was great, thanks, I tell them.
What did you do at the weekend? they all chorus excitedly. Curiouser and curiouser.
Um… I went for lunch with friends on Saturday, and went to a wedding on Sunday, I say nervously. It is like a minature criminal investigation committee. And what did you do?
But they are already gone, clattering loudly back up the corridor to their Korean English teacher’s room. Come to think of it, they came in after class on Friday and demanded to know how I was feeling. This warrants an investigation of my own.
I go into Kerry’s classroom and make tentative inquiries. It is all because of you! she says in a tone that could be either proud or accusing. Jenny’s mother, she reads your progress report and she gives me counsel because you say Jenny does not speak enough English in class. Now, we have list of conversation questions. Each day, they must learn a question, ask for your answer, and tell me and their parents what you say. Is speaking practice.
Blimey. Korean parents take progress report cards very seriously, don’t they?