I just sat down with a student and spent 30 minutes telling him all about Seattle. He’s going there this summer for a six week internship, so I told him about how he needs to buy a bike, do some some kayaking, definitely see Pike Place Market (I like the touristy shit, goddammit) and some other stuff. (Visit Vancouver? Definitely. Visit Portland? Well, maybe.) I even broke out Google Maps to try and get him orientated a little bit (not an easy thing in that city).
This is by far my favorite part of my job – both prepping students for their visa interviews at the US Embassy and also getting them ready for trips abroad. It’s nice that we send a lot of students to two US cities that I’m pretty familiar with – DC and Seattle.
I even think to myself how this could translate into a future job, either here or back in America. I enjoy teaching English just fine, but the moments when I really feel like my students’ language skills are going to be put to practical use gets me really excited, because I know they’re going to have a great time and it’ll broaden their horizons and finally, after years if not decades, the usual tedium of what passes for ESL education in South Korea – endless tests and grammar reviews – finally translates into a practical skill, which is what studying a language is first and foremost about. Or at least, what it should be about.
Basically, those moments when all the meticulous attention to grammar and such and dealing with students with zero motivation falls away and it’s like, hey, you’re going to have an awesome time and it’s thanks to the hard work you put into learning a language as difficult, maddening, and exception-ridden as English.
And now I’m craving a dozen fresh raw oysters and three or seven glasses of real beer. That’ll have to wait until August though.
(And Portland is a great town, but with limited time and budget I’m thinking his one “big trip” ought to at least take him to another country. Then again, strip clubs. . . .)