Sunday, 28 February 2010

Bad English and Bules

Okay, another random week teaching English in Jakarta. I'm not happy with my employers because they didn't pay me what I was expecting to get paid and they didn't let me know about it until payday. They also still need to send me to immigration to finalise things with my residency here and sponsor me for a bank account. It is becoming apparent that they are far from competent when dealing with issues like this.

One of my classes are of quite a low ability in English but they are really nice. Although they aren't really bothered about learning and want to play games rather than learning English. It doesn't help them that the material in the curriculum – what they are tested on – is of a higher level than their ability. The problem with the progression system at our 'school' is that they are pushed through and can't fail. Nobody fails exams at out school. Does that not render the whole process pointless? I'm being quite pessimistic here, but I'd given up trying to teach that day because the school had pissed me off... I was supposed to be teaching an elementary level class the ins and outs of letter writing. Instead I set them a task where they worked together and pretended that they were sorry for not speaking English very well. They saw the funny side and the results were quite humorous, so I'll quote my favourite one: "Mr Lee, how are you today? I think you're not fine because your face are too handsome so, there are many girls want to kill you. Misterrrrr, we want to tell something to you about speak English. We very very very very very sorry because we can't speak English well! Thanks with love Jessica and Adel." That was quite funny and made me smile, so I let them off with their horrible grammar... A fair exchange seeing as they think I'm handsome and I didn't even have to tell them to include that in their work.

Yesterday I went to the swimming pool and as we were walking in all the kids inside the pool were staring at us. First, one shouted "Bule!" - which is a racial term for white people Indonesian for honkey I suppose - and then a chant erupted... "Bule, Bule, Bule...", that was quite nice... I wasn't sure whether we should be offended or honoured?! Effectively they were chanting a racial slur, but they were so happy about it, I'm not sure they meant it with any intent or malice. But could you imagine being in the Ken Marriot Leisure Centre at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon and a chant of "P*ki, P*ki..." occurring? The wonders of life in Indonesia! ;)

That aside, I also got to teach my Saturday business class and they are cool. The lesson is four hours long, but it flys and they really enjoy it. So that's always nice. Although I was tired because I'd been at work all week and it starts to show towards the end of the lesson. One of my students – a 41 year old middle class business lady – suggested that I was probably tired due to my high-percentage of body fat... I just sort of said that maybe she was right?!...

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