I teach English in an elementary school. My students are in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade. They live in a really poor part of Seoul. Only a few have exposure to English outside of my class, so most of them have really bad English. It’s an unusual scenario in this country (from what I’m told), but it’s what I got. So whenever a kid uses any English I’m impressed.
The other day the 4th graders were on the lesson “Don’t Enter, Please.” It’s got several expressions that start with “Don’t”, like push, shout, run- you get the idea. And thank god they’re learning this because I have to say it a lot.
Every chapter includes a song. Every song has a music video. Every music video has 2 girls and one guy. Every girl has pigtails. Every guy is immasculated and doesn’t know it. They’re all dressed in pastels. Their voices are unnaturally chipper. Their dance moves make 4th graders think, ‘wtf?’ It’s as if the Disney Channel lost its mind a bit more.
This section of the chapter is called “Sing! Sing!” I know how cheesy it is, but apparently songs help kids learn so I play the song and try to get them to sing with it.
So I’m playing this song and most kids are staring at the TV like, ‘Dear god…’ And I’m saying through an uncomfortable grin, “Why aren’t you singing?” And they’re looking at me like, ‘You want me to do what?’
Meanwhile my co-teacher, a tiny, middle-aged Korean woman wearing a suit with a skirt just below her knees (who, by the way, is a substitute since my normal co-teacher is on maternity leave), is rocking out to it in the front of the room. So I say, “Come on! Everyone sing it!” One enthusiastic boy, who is made of jello, gets out of his chair and can’t wait to do it. Then 2 other boys get up to, to mock the whole thing (which is fine by me if they’re doing it in English), one of which has cerebral palsy. They are going nuts.
As the class stares at the TV with a ‘kill me’ look on their faces (minus the three boys who are the epitome of ‘dance like no one is watching’) I hear, “TEACHER! Don’t Sing! Sing!, please.”
Somehow I’ve succeeded.