The new year and things are already changing a lot.
Eun Jeong went away for five days to train for her new job as an English teacher. She was exhausted. They had her going from 7 AM to midnight every day. Yet she was pumped and ready to go.
She spent her first two days on the job this week observing classes. Her confidence got higher. She felt that she would be a good teacher. And I think she will be. She has the right mind for it. She’s not the usual passive doormat type that I have frustratingly seen in many Korean English teachers. She won’t let students, parents, nor management walk all over her.
Yesterday was her first full day of teaching. She came home all drained. She’s still excited about her job, but she said that they don’t give her enough time to do everything they want her to do in class. She stayed up late and reviewed phonics lessons to teach the next day, occasionally waking me up to ask me what something meant.
As for myself, I’ve had an exciting few weeks. I apologize to my family and everyone I emailed about the “opportunity” I talked about. It, like many things here, was not quite a done deal, even though we were given the impression it was.
Nonetheless, we all had auditions yesterday for a new TV show teaching English to elementary students. A couple of us went to a photographer to get our pictures taken. I didn’t like my pic, so I did it up in Photoshop to make it look like a professional head shot. I then sent it off in an email to the director with a resume and sample lesson plan.
We each got emails on Tuesday giving us different times on Wednesday to audition. The rough part was trying to find ways to cover classes while we were gone. We were able to get someone to do it–for a fee.
I was the first one on the schedule. At the bottom of the email was a cryptic line about doing a 2-3 lecture on a short sentence.
Don’t ask me what that means.
The night before, I was trying to think of something I could do. I then decided to do a piece on how “is”, “am”, and “are” love “ing.” In other words, whenever you see “ing,” you have to have “is”, “am,” or “are.”
I know this is not always the case, but for beginning learners, it helps clear up some confusion. And it stops them from saying, “I am go to the park.”
But I had a hard time thinking of how to explain why these three words love this one word. Sounds a bit polygamic to me. I lay in bed and looked on the shelf. I saw Eun Jeong’s little plush dog I bought for her in Osaka.
Three brothers, “is”, “am,” and “are” have their dog “ing,” who always follows them around.
Wednesday morning, I printed, laminated, and cut out some signs to illustrate this, including an “ing” name tag I fit around the puppy’s neck.
I left a little early for the 1:30 audition, knowing from past experience that I need to have some extra time for getting lost. The night before, Eun Jeong had found the station on a Daum map (like MapQuest), and I figured the most direct route would be to take the subway to Seonbawi and get a taxi from there.
I did that and got off at Seonbawi. The trouble was that it was in the middle of nowhere, next to Seoul Grand Park but not close enough. There were no taxis–no cars at all.
I walked to the busy highway, which was the main artery between Seoul and Gwacheon. I finally hailed a taxi there. Luckily, the driver knew exactly where to go.
I got to the building and was disheartened that it didn’t have an obvious entrance. I looked for an entrance and ended up in the headquarters for Korean education–something like that. Wrong place.
I went back outside and scoped around. I found a small sign that said the station’s name with an arrow pointing upstairs. So the entrance to the TV station was upstairs.
At the information desk, I asked where Studio 3 was (in Korean). He said (in Korean), “It’s down the hall and to the right.”
I went down the hall, past Studio 2. Past Studio 1. No Studio 3. I walked back and forth in confusion. I then just walked into a green room, where people were sitting there chatting. I asked if they knew where Studio 3 was. They didn’t, but they asked around for me. One girl spoke to me in English. She said it was past the big heavy forbidding white door at the end of the hallway.
So I went through the door to another hallway and found Studio 3.
When I entered, a young pretty Korean teacher was finishing her audition. When she finished, the young director behind the cameraman looked at me, looked at his clipboard, and said, “Joe Mc—Per–?”
He pointed to the set.
I stood on the black “x” under the boom mike and went through my routine when he told me to start. I didn’t walk around because, having worked in TV for two years in America, I knew that I could mess up the cameraman’s focus. I heard one of the Korean teachers giggle during my routine, so maybe the little “ing” dog thing worked.
When I finished, the director said, “Singing? Dancing?”
“Um, yes, I can sing and dance.”
(Partial lie, if anyone has seen me dance.)
“Do you want me to sing a song?”
This first song that came to mind was “True,” the ’80s ballad by Spandau Ballet, which I like to sing in the noraebangs because it’s well within my range and I can belt out certain bits. I did one verse and stopped. He then said, with one of the teachers translating, that he wanted me to sing a Nursery Rhyme. Oh–and more movement.
So I did an overly acted version of “Humpty Dumpty” because that was the only Nursery Rhyme I could think of at the moment that I could put to music. It’s funny how your mind goes blank during these things. I had totally forgotten that my schtick as a teacher is that I know tons of silly physical songs. Coulda done one of those, but that didn’t matter.
The director said, “Thank you,” and I walked off the set.
He then talked to one of the Korean teachers. I could understand a bit of what they were saying, notably “kachi.”
I muttered, “You want us to do it together?”
The Korean teacher was a bit horrified. “I hadn’t prepared to do anything with a foreigner.”
The director told her to improvise.
We both got back on the set. She was really nice and said that we were going to do a routine about New Year’s resolutions.
We started. She had conversations with me and then translated them into Korean for the camera.
“Joe, what do you do in your country on New Year’s?”
Okay, we’re talking about New Year’s resolutions. I’ll figure out a way to move onto that.
“Well, after eating a lot of food during Christmas and the holidays, many people have gotten a bit fat. So they go to the gym.”
“On New Year’s Day?”
Of course not on New Year’s Day. They’re nursing hangovers. But I don’t think that’s what she wants.
“Um, we promise to go to the gym.”
“In Korea, we go to the fortune teller on New Year’s. Do you know about fortune tellers?”
“I have seen them, but I have never been to one.”
“What do you ask when you go to the fortune teller?”
“Well, still, I haven’t been to one, but if I did, I guess I would ask about what would happen this year.”
“Like… uh… will I be richer?”
She then translated and did a lesson in Korean. I found that I was starting to do the EBS Smile-and-Nod. I noticed when Eun Jeong watches English education shows, there’s a foreigner there next to a Korean teacher. When the Korean teacher starts giving her monologue in Korean, the foreigner looks at the teacher, looks at the camera, smiles, tilts his head, and nods. I mean, really, what else can you do?
She went back into English.
“Many people ask about their love lives. Joe, what would you like in a wife?”
Okay, I have this very pretty woman asking me what I would like in a wife. Was not prepared for that. Think. What do you like about Eun Jeong?
“Um, I would like her to be sweet.”
No, that’s not Eun Jeong. Oh yeah.
“Pretty. And, um, she has to love to eat.”
So we finished that, and the other teacher came up to audition alongside me. This teacher had a book and finger puppets. We did a routine where I supposedly went to the zoo–it’s part of a song. I mimicked walking.
“I went walking.”
“What did you see?”
She held up one of the finger puppets and made an animal sound.
“I saw a frog looking at me!”
We went through five animals, including a snake. I got to act really scared because I have an abnormal fear of snakes.
One of my psychology classes in college spent two of three hours analyzing my fear of snakes. I have trouble even looking at pictures of them. And, no, I ain’t watchin’ no motherf—ing movie with motherf—ing Samuel Jackson about motherf—ing snakes.
So that all finished. The director asked if I could stay a while. I had to rush back to school, but I found that it was only 1:35. I had gotten there early enough to finish my audition at my start time. I said I could stay a little while longer. The director tried to get someone on his cell phone.
I waited with the two other teachers. We talked about how much fun it was, and they had lots of questions for him.
He came back, and he couldn’t get this other person, so he said we could all go. We thanked him, and I told him (in Korean) that I had a lot of fun.
I walked with the teachers a bit until we could get them a taxi. They were going to Seoul. I was going the opposite way to Anyang. They said the director said that emails will be sent out in early February when they make their decisions. We said goodbye, and I was able to find a cab for myself with maybe the oldest taxi driver in Korea. He could barely understand what I was saying, but that was okay. He got lost when we got to Anyang, and when I said left, he just went straight. I just told him to drop me off somewhere and walked back.
I had to hurry back because Ben’s audition was at 2:00. He had already left. The two Chrisses had auditions at 3:30 and 4:00. Our substitute had to leave at 3:30. So I got to my class at 2:15.
Somehow we were able to pull it off. Everyone had a great time at his audition. It was definitely a memorable experience. Chris P. hung out and talked with the director for an hour after his audition to talk about what was going on and to mention that the previous foreigners all worked for his school. The director asked which ones. When Chris told him, he said, “Oh, Joe. He was very good.”
I think that’s a good sign. I hope this comes through. The trouble is that if it conflicts with school, I can’t do it.