The majority of foreigners our age living in Korea are here to teach English – in fact, we often get asked if we are English teachers and we have some good friends who are here for that very reason. For most of our time here in Korea, our answer has been “No.” That was until some people that Ryan works with gave us the opportunity to turn that answer into an affirmative. Several of the Korean engineers asked Ryan if we would be willing to give them English lessons a couple of times a week and we said, “Absolutely!” We were excited to help them out, but we were not sure where to start. Luckily they had a book which we use to guide our classes. It’s really fun and it’s great to watch them learn some of the intricacies of our native language that we take for granted. Some examples are using “a” or “an” in front of words – I ate an apple, I need a pencil, etc. Also how and when to use she, her, him, and his. These seem simple for us but there isn’t really anything comparable in the Korean language so they usually leave these out when they are speaking in English. They already know a lot of vocabulary, so we spend quite a bit of time talking through these things because it’s the little things that make a difference in their language skills. I really never realized how confusing our language is sometimes – there are rules but those rules aren’t always followed…it’s much harder than I expected, but we ended up really enjoying it. We had a wonderful few weeks of lessons and are continuing when we can. To thank us, they took us out to dinner – we have a great group of students!
One of the toughest parts has been answering their questions as to why things are said a certain way – especially when it is something that just sounds normal to me. The hardest question I’ve had is: “If you are supposed to use was with I (example: I was happy, I was running, etc.), why does Beyonce say: ‘If I were a boy?’” My gut response: “Because it’s Beyonce and grammar doesn’t apply to her.” The actual words that came out of my mouth: “Hmmm….good question!” How would you answer that?