Monday, November 15, 2010

The Price of Empathy

I'm laughing to myself as I reflect on my first Korean class which took place this evening. About 30 seconds after the instructor walked in, I realized:  this is a full-immersion class. For the bulk of the 90 minute lesson, I had absolutely no idea what was going on -especially amusing considering that at the start of class, I was still experiencing a quasi-high from yesterday's productive Hangul tutorial.

Like any determined student, I smiled and tried to follow along, but as far as I was concerned, there was nothing elementary or beginner about the lesson. The other guys were able to keep up with our teacher whereas I struggled to see letters and words (instead of lines and circles) in the Hangul characters. Fortunately my partner for group work was patient and good-humored about everything, which helped to slightly alleviate my feeling like the weakest link.

In the midst of my confusion, it dawned on me that I was experiencing what many of my own students face when they come to class -total immersion in a foreign language. And for that, I am grateful because it has sparked in me greater empathy for them as they endeavor to learn conversational English. 

Now, back to the books. Onward, upward!

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