Student Emails

emailshotI have a really great job.

I am a professor of talking. It’s amazing.

My strong suit is being in front of the students. I get along with them and I like them. My weakness is doing teachy things: curriculum development, lesson planning, being more than a week ahead of myself at any given point in a semester. jk. but real talk.

The beginning of the semester is always a little stressful: finding classes and making sure you’ve got your schedule down properly and aren’t forgetting things or materials and the printers always break halfway through your syllabus. Every time.

The nice thing is that the first week of classes is lite on actual instruction: it’s my chance to assess their levels and try to break through their inevitable English-speaking antipathy. No college freshman wants to mess up in front of a group of peers and English is hard to learn, y’all. So for the first week we play games, and the homework is simple: email me your answer to this question:

Why are you taking this class?

And no matter how stressful the first week is, those emails, man, they make it so so so so beyond worthwhile. Because bless them, how hard they do try to answer that question, and bless them, how some of them do not try at all. (as in, out of something like 75 students I have 58 emails.)

Here are this semester’s tallies:

  • Times I was called ‘sir’: 1
  • One sentence or less in length: 13
  • Paragraph-plus length: 13 (due largely to my upper-level content course)
  • Obviously written in Korean and then crunched through Google translate: 20
  • Unintentional Poetry: 6
  • Unintentional Sass: 5
  • Emojis: 6

Here are my favorites. From the Unintentional Poetry category:

I don’t speak english very well
and I don’t understand english well
but I want to be improving my english skill
this is my answer to your question

to all questions.

i want to good at english

but i am not

so i will try to!


From the Unintentional Sass category:

i came because i wanted to see a teacher

Like…that’s the whole thing. okay? Success?

From the Google Translate and Paragraph categories, subdivision Delightful:

I wanted to learn English like a professional may come from the old and in college and live in the future, so important Hebrews sseuyigi like they’d better put up the good work going to work hard to help me because I go to vacation again when traveling overseas trip I hope doeteumyeon

Yes. My thoughts exactly.

If one week age I had no idea about the university and professor, entrance ceremony day be absolutely kept in the dark about course application, but teacher question me why are you taking this class? I talk it was destiny, I believe destiny
entrance ceremony course application time I just focus number 1485 and teachers name: collen I think Wow!! another country people I confidence this class is perfect so I choice 1485, frist class time I feel wonderful I have very best choice
teacher image is very similar my ideal english teacher.
Thank you^^

Just reading these puts me in the best mood. Because darn it, they are trying, and they are failing spectacularly, and that is being a student. And it doesn’t stop in university or adulthood or everrrrr. A reminder that I need all. the. time. So bring on the semester, kiddos. I believe destiny! You believe destiny! Let’s destiny together! Wow!!

A Peek at my Inbox

in my inbox? that sounds wrong? grammar?

Anyway, I’ve just wrapped up my first week back teaching…time for vacation! Chuseok, the Korean equivalent to Thanksgiving, falls around the same time as Labor Day in the States, but it’s a much bigger deal. That and my super-excellent work schedule means that after just a few days of being back 2 skool I am off again for like a full week!

What does it say about me that I am so happy to have this week off? like I haven’t even gotten back into things yet, and the summer was insane (not the fun kind) but there is built into me an intense craving at all times to avoid doing things. Like all things. unless it means I can be home and pantsless.  But anyway.

The first few days back were the usual muddle of classroom tracking, icebreaker games, and assessments for me to see where my bebes fall on the English-speaking ability spectrum (fyi they fall on the part with not a lot of english on it, which is to be expected). One of the exercises I always do at the start of the semester is tell them to email me their answer to the question:

‘Why are you taking this class?’

An exercise that doesn’t have a TON of merit in the grand scheme, though it’s not useless, but which I keep around so I can read things like this:

A very honest young lady:

The reason why I choice this class is… to study english of course,  and honestly, It was only class which I need to make my time table’s friday free

So much sass. “to study English OF COURSE.”

A very Google translated student:

Hello. I also fear a lot of English. But the attitude is let’s hit single.  We chose this class for chopping the base.

Brb, working more chopping the base into my syllabus which before this email had a severe lack of that

Finally: Succinct is key.

to speak well english more

I love these emails because they make me laugh BUT ALSO because they remind me of why I like this job so much. I love these students and their personalities and their goals and their senses of humor and their English. Look, I know it’s mean to laugh at these kiddos when this is them DOING THEIR WORK and FULFILLING THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES and who do I think I am, anyway. But anyone who’s ever been a teachers knows that part of caring about your students includes laughing at their errors. in private. on the internet.