Posted by: incywincy | September 4, 2007

Teaching Korean students English

And I officially declare this hiatus over, until the next time I feel like I need another break from life.

Well, not to say that I’ve recovered from the last erm, break. But I just felt like maybe I should write something here. I’ve been busy with school, with reading (at least 3 books a week), and with the 3 tuition students that I have now.

I’m now committing about 15 hours of my weekly schedule to giving tuition – that’s like holding 1/3 of a job, in addition to studying full time. I have two Korean boys (Primary 2 and 4) and they are siblings, so I teach 3 hours in one sitting. It’s no mean feat, especially when they are boys who have really short attention spans. Well, it’s that, or they are just constantly trying to annoy me with their neverending questions, or their absurd answers.

Examples from yesterday’s lessons:

Question asked by student: “Why is it called a nursery and not a doctory?”

Answer to sentence construction exercises:
1. I need some soil, seeds, and a pot to plant flowers.
2. I need one thousand books, two hundred pens and one million erasers to draw one picture.

*breathe, Daphne, breathe*

Boys are just so naughty. But these 2 boys of mine are also extremely adorable! So I forgive them. Haha. They are from Seoul, Korea, but went to Shenzhen, China, and study in an international school there for about 2 years, before coming to Singapore. Therefore, they are really outspoken, and actually speak good English, with a slight American slang.

My other student is a Korean lady who has a PhD in Korean musicology (or something equally amazing). She is here with her husband, who is pursuing some doctorate course at NUS. So meanwhile, she is studying some post-doctorate course at NIE in Asian musicology. And that’s where I come in. I help her with her academic English (thesis-writing language, in other words).

Anyway, we’ve settled into a comfortable routine now, of alternating between lessons in academic English, and discussive sessions, whereby we just sit for 2 hours to talk about world issues (economic, political, international relations, globalisation, etc.) and social issues (racial discriminations, social stigmas, women’s rights, education systems’ impact on the youth, etc). I must say that I really enjoy lessons with her. I learn as much from these lessons as she does. Hmm, so does that mean we should not have any payment of sorts? Haha, actually I feel a bit bad because this is something that comes naturally to me – academic writing and speaking the language – and yet I charge so much for the lessons, when it doesn’t even require much effort on my part.

Seriously, who pays a tutor so much money to come and sit in her house (and even get served drinks and snacks) just to talk about topics of interest, or newspaper articles? Umm.

In any case, I do feel very happy about the way the lessons are going now, for all my students. Although I’m very tired, and I actually have to study my school stuff on the bus, while travelling home to JB, or on the MRT, or during meal times, I feel like I’m actually doing something real, instead of just studying and studying and studying.

Well, the drawbacks (besides that I’m perpetually tired) are that I don’t have time for friends or family now, and I’ve started speaking “funnily”. I tend to put on an accent when I speak now, because my students don’t understand me if I speak with the Singapore English accent (yes, I tried). And since my students are the only people I speak to these days, sometimes it gets kind of hard to break out of the habit of putting on an accent. So please don’t be overly surprised if you see me one day, and I start slang-ing. Haha. BTW why is it called slang-ing? By definition,

Slang: Informal usage of vocabulary and idioms
Accent: A distinctive characteristic pronunciation determined by regional or social background of the speaker

I guess, in Singlish, to slang means to put on an accent? Odd.


  1. yea!
    you are back! 😀

  2. Welcome back Daphne!!!

    And, is ‘slang’ a verb in Singlish? This is my first time learning about it.

  3. If only I can start slanging as well as you :\

  4. xinyun: haha thank you thank you for your warm welcome-back 😛

    uzyn: yeah, have u never heard of people saying, “eh, stop slang-ing like ang-mo leh.” ? haha.. shit. this is bad. i pick up all the bad stuff from singlish! 😦

    rinaz: speak to me more often and i’ll try to pass it to u! haha!

  5. hello, good to see u back.

  6. heya…welcome back!

    wah…such good lobang…where u find wan eh? i oso wan le hehe

    slang…ya…i stayed in Aust fer 5 years but no accent. but hor, the aussies wun understand me unless i put on an aussie accent (despite me being able to speak good queen’s english)! sigh

  7. gerald: it’s good to be back

    jzin: 🙂 hmm u sure u wanna teach english? it’s the most frustrating subject to teach haha… i’m just lucky i got some easy-to-teach students. about accents, i agree that some people won’t understand unless u speak to them in the accent that they are familiar with.

    THEREFORE, locals should not start putting on an accent when speaking to locals, because they simply WON’T UNDERSTAND! … but well, some people just don’t understand that, and start slang-ing just so that they can sound ang moh.

    btw, if anyone tries to put on an accent and even the ang mohs don’t understand, then you better stop it…! haha…

    does anyone else have any opinions abt accents? this is interesting 🙂

  8. Dearie roomie!

    Welcome back too! Hee this post is so funny! Was laughing out loud when i read about ur post 🙂

    Love ya daphne!

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