Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mr. Lee x2

I met my three clients today for the first time near Beomgye station.  Like I said before, two older men, civil engineers, who said they need to improve their English skills so that they can make conversation with other foreigners when they have business trips in the United Arab Emeritus.  They were accompanied by a younger woman, with whom I met before to discuss the goals and conditions of the tutoring.  Her name is Chae Won, she's a shy, TINY thirty-something whose English is good enough for conversation with a patient listener, but needs some tuning on pronunciation and a few specific grammar issues. 

Chae Won greeted me at the elevator and brought me into a vacant conference room on the fifteenth floor of a bustling office building in "downtown" Beomgye, if that really exists due to it being dwarfed by neighboring Seoul.  A gigantic digital clock glared red in the elevator hallway, reminding people of how late they were to their 9 o'clock workday.  She brought me into a vacant conference room and slipped on a pair or slippers at the door.  Soon after, she came back with my two English beginners.  They wore matching nylon coats and looked like building contractors, the ones you see on TV at building sites wearing clean khakis, hard hat, and holding a few rolls of schematics. 

The suggestion from some teaching adult ESL internet sites was to ask them to choose English first names, both so they could learn English under  a guise if they had anxiety about their level and so I could remember their names more easily.  They wanted to keep their names.  The first one said he would go by Mr. Lee.  Easy enough.  The second one gave me his full name, of which, condensed to last name, was also Mr. Lee.  This made me a little nervous, but as class went on, it was just easier to address them as the same name and gesture to one or the other if I wanted them to speak individually.  Most of the material I prepared was too low of a level for them and I started getting nervous that they would call think I was underqualified and quit before we had even begun.  Not the case: I thought up some stuff on the fly and they were content repeating after me, taking notes and doing small role plays of, "What do you like to do? I like to golf," and the like.  I then asked them to repeat, "What is your favorite food?" and the older of the two Mr. Lee's asked me if I like soju.  I giggled, made a motion to my chest and said, "불" which means "fire." They both got a good laugh out of it, and I felt like I gained a little bit of respect because I took it well. 

After I ran out of material at 11--half an hour earlier than planned--they said they would go back to work,* and I was left with Chae Won for the last half hour.  We just shot the shit, as much as you can shoot the shit with a woman 17 years older than you who smiles and giggles as if she's half your age.  It was fun.  My second lesson is tomorrow, and after that we meet Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays every week.  If you would like to know more about how my tutoring is going, post a comment below or send me an email at 

*So I guess they take time out of their work day to meet with me and all "free dinners"--inquire within--they give me also come from their employer.  Pretty rad.  Sounds legit. 

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