Monday, March 9, 2009

The Joys of Marking University Journals in Korea

I'm sitting at my desk right now marking journals . . . and came across the following . . .

"My dream is nice teacher. I will give children love and dream. I will beat children because I love children."

I SERIOUSLY hope that this is just one of many examples of WRONG WORD CHOICE that I have seen in hundreds of journal entries! It likely is, and the note I wrote below this journal entry treats it as such--but I worry a little, I must admit, that something is amiss . . .

Another student wrote, "I don't have romance. I am poor guy." The thing about this entry was that the English printing had some problems, and the word "guy" looked a lot like "gay" . . . I often lecture students about needing to be careful about their printing because it can radically change the meaning of a sentence. I think I just found one example that might actually sink in for them. And please don't think I'm teaching them homophobia--any time I say something that might be misconstrued to mean, for example, 'be afraid of letting people know you are gay' or something along those lines, I always explain and elaborate to cover any possible misunderstandings that might come up.

I will admit, though, that it is highly amusing to see the reactions of students when they GET why I'm asking them to improve their English skills with an example that has some kind of mild cultural taboo or extremely funny/reactive content.

Other examples from last week's lectures include some amusing pronunciation issues (that are pretty much common to the majority of Korean English students),

bitch vs beach
workshit vs worksheet
lice vs rice

One of my all time favorites is from last year. The journal topic was "The world is going to be destroyed in 24 hours. What are 3 things you would do before the world ends. Explain why for each."

One of the students wrote that she'd go home to be with her family for the whole day, and at the end of the day she'd,

". . . sleep with my father, my mother, and my two brothers."

Needless to say the very diplomatic note that I wrote in her journal explaining the dangers of using 'sleep' in the wrong way took some time to craft in such a way as to get the meaning across to her but at the same time be polite and not too critical . . . all the while grinning like a fool at the humor of the whole thing, lol.

J

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