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Thursday, January 3, 2008

Good Korean Students

To my delight, my two new university-level Korean students whom I “christened” Joseph and Victor (actually, they chose their respective names from a list I wrote on the board)toeic.jpg didn’t lose their interest in their ESL studies with the end of the old year. We started our classes today with the same level of interest and enjoyment we had since our first day of classes late last year. We went through several segments of their TOEIC review materials for four straight hours without any of them dozing off. Toward the end of the day, I couldn’t help thanking them for their sustained interest in their lessons. I told them I and many other Filipino ESL/EFL teachers have had terrible classroom experiences with Korean students who seemed to have come to the Philippines not really to learn (Philippine) English, but only to get away from their parents. I related that there have been many Korean boys and girls who would treat their tutors like slaves, shooing them away or bad-mouthing them when they (Koreans) get bored in the middle of their lessons; other kids would just sleep under their teachers’ noses and remain asleep amidst their teachers’ exasperated “wake-up calls.” I told them they’re fortunate to have wealthy parents who could send them abroad for schooling. I contrasted their opulence with the condition of many highly intelligent Filipino kids out there who are desirous to go to school but just can’t afford the school fees, and whose potentials have not been explored, developed and used simply because they lacked the same opportunities enjoyed by their moneyed peers. I intimated that I have been with Korean and Chinese ESL learners whose bookshelves are stuffed with freshly printed Harry Potter and other best-selling books, as well as the bulkiest and latest SAT/ACT/TOEFL materials – which many English teachers here can only dream of – but are just gathering dust as their owners are more interested in GameBoy or some online games more than in those highly prized tomes. I didn’t tell them though that I regret that they will only be in the Philippines for the “winter break” (until early March), and that we their tutors would have been among the happiest professionals in the world were all our students as passionate in their studies as “Joseph & Victor” are. For what greater joy is there for ESL/EFL tutors than seeing the fruit of their labors in their students’ steady climb up the ladder of English competence.

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