Working at a Korean after-school as one of two non-Korean people has its moments. Lots of them.
I teach a 4th and 5th grade combination class and its filled with an eclectic bunch of bright students. One such student is Harrison.
Harrison and his sister, Kate, moved to America from Korea not too long ago, and have both been adjusting to life here in the states. For example, Harrison, formerly known as Hubert, had his name recently changed by his parents. I think it was a good move to change his name to match a classic movie star or respected surname, though his classmates are now confused.
Harrison’s adventures in learning the English language have been quite challenging for him as a student, but also for me as a teacher who doesn’t speak his native language of Korean. Despite the difficulty, his language barrier has proved to be surprisingly entertaining as well.
On Mondays, I give a spelling pre-test to my students in order to prepare them for the vocabulary words for the week. After reciting the words out loud and having them do their best to spell each one, they all turned it in for Amy Teacher to grade.
I took these tests home to grade, and was at my friend Michelle’s apartment doing work. When I came to Harrison’s test, I busted up laughing. I showed Michelle what Harrison had written as number one: bigdump.
Me: “Bigdump! He thought I said bigdump! Hahahaha!”
Michelle: “Why did he write that? What was the word?”
Lost in translation. So very lost. Harrison had put a word he didn’t know in his schema for English words, and hence produced “bigdump.” Let’s use bigdump in a sentence: The bigdump of a crime reported it to the police. I will not be a bigdump of injustice! Oh, one of my favorite shows is “Law & Order: Special Bigdumps Unit.”
Oh man, I’m having too much fun. Poor kid.
This is Amy Hu signing off for July 23, 2011.