Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Naming Kids

When I signed up for this year I did some research into the hagwon education system. By research I mean I read some blogs similar to this one. One thing that stuck out was the fact that these teachers were at regular intervals given the opportunity to give their students English nicknames. Great, I thought, and began drawing up a mental list of potential names. I'll admit this first list contained names such as Bing, Michael Jr and Bjork. 

When I arrived it was mid-term so no new kids were immediately forthcoming. Several months later, though, still nothing. The teacher that started at the same time as me, Sean, had by this point bestowed names on around twenty kids, and didn't hesitate in reminding everybody of this fact. Hourly. So at the end of February the new batch of kindergarten babies started and I assumed there'd be swathes of Korean 6 year olds for me to anglicise the shit out of. Nope. Not one. 

I came close a couple of times. Another teacher taught a brand new afternoon class once - eight kids, named them all - then the very next lesson the schedule changed and I took over. I had a kid come up to me and say "my name's JK," as in the initials of his Korean name Jin Kyung or something. I told him balls to that, you're Kurt. His mother was having none of it, so JK's still JK. Another kid turned up, excited about getting an English nickname, a feeling shared by me, and we settled on Leslie, after my dad. He liked it, and went home with it all over his books. Next day he came in with stickers covering the name I'd given him. His mother had renamed him Leo, because it was more Catholic. Gah. What about Pope Leslie?

This never happens to other bastard teachers. Sean even named a kid Bowie and it stuck. Bowie! Which, to be fair though, is unspeakably awesome. 

No comments: