Monday, 27 December 2010

My 5 minutes of (semi) fame

My school has a rather nice TV and audio broadcasting suite that I get to use every week and that hosts a student radio broadcasting club so I'm told. Usually, on Thursday and Fridays mornings, I have to come into school early to do an English audio broadcast to the whole school called "Morning Class" which is a kind of annoying as I hate getting up any earlier than normal. Also, there always seems to be some kind of problem with it - either the sound doesn't work or the video we have to show to the students doesn't work - always something and everyone in the whole school gets to hear it when it goes wrong and presumably they connect the screw ups with me, the token English teacher. Oh well, what can you do. I have no control over the technical aspects of the broadcast, I'm just there to provide a native speaker voice so I've learnt to just accept the farcical screw ups that happen every week and try to see the funny side.

I'd never even realised that it was possible to do TV broadcasts too until, in my last week of normal classes before school broke up for the winter vacation, I found out that I had to host a short morning program on my school's internal TV channel. I have to admit that I wasn't exactly thrilled at the prospect of being on TV at 8.30am with the prospect of having to overcome all kinds of technical hitches but I suppose that's the price you pay for fame. The program was a chance to showcase some of the best performances from the previous week's English Storytelling and Pop Song Contest. The contest was pretty entertaining. I was one of the three English teachers (the other two were Korean English teachers) who acted as the judging panel. We had to mark each team's performance on fluency, pronunciation and showmanship. We were showered with handfuls of chocolates by kids competing in the contest in an attempt to bribe us which was quite funny. There were about 10 teams who entered from the 1st and 2nd grades and some performed English pop songs while others told stories in English. Most of the students gave really impressive performances with good pronunciation and excellent fluency. Some of them had even made props for their performances which was a nice touch. We even had a seasonal Christmas pop song from one team which was kind of nice considering Christmas isn't really a big deal over here though as I had to listen to it repeatedly the day before at rehearsals I was a bit sick of it by the time of the actual contest. I started thinking to myself that all I really wanted for Christmas was to never hear that bloody Mariah Carey song ever again. Bah humbug!

This girl was the overall winner of the competition. She did an excellent recital of one of Aesop's fables, "The gold ax and the silver ax", complete with handmade props, fake mustaches and different voices!

One of my favourite performances though was one of the worst. Two 2nd grade girls gave a spirited performance, singing some American pop song, but their English was terrible, they were pretty badly out of tune and they didn't seem to know any of the words except for the chorus but they gave it their all and really got into it. One of the girls was even doing some air guitar! However, one of the Korean English teachers wrote on the comments section of her score sheet "They seem to be enjoying themselves" - ouch! That really cracked me up - I must be an evil person!

The winning teams all got cash prizes of varying sizes, 40,000 won for 1st place I think (abut 25 quid), and we thought that was the end of it. But no, next week it turned out that three of the best teams would have to perform on school TV so all their peers could watch them - a terrifying prospect for young teenagers I'm sure. Unsurprisingly, it was difficult to get any volunteers for the TV program as apparently many of the winners were worried that they would get laughed at by their peers for speaking English well. One of my co-teacher told me this bullying of kids with good English skills is quite a big problem in Korean schools but I suppose the same could be said for kids with good French in British schools - I'm sure they would get laughed at or seen as a teacher's pet too. Luckily, one of my colleagues had the stellar idea of persuading the students into doing it by telling them that they would have to give their prizes back if they didn't. This had the desired effect and on a chilly Thursday morning three of the teams gathered in the broadcasting studio and sat around looking fairly petrified while I tried to cheer them up with a bit of clowning around. I was pretty nervous too to be honest but it all went well, no technical hitches for once, and the kids did a great job.

She was really nervous but did a great job singing "Because of You" by Kelly Clarkson - a horrible song in my opinion but, luckily for the competing teams, I wasn't allowed to judge based on whether I liked their song or not!

These three girls did a really nice performance of the fable "The town mouse and the country mouse" and they'd drawn these scenes themselves to illustrate different parts of the story.

The girls standing in front of the camera with the Korean flag just behind them and off to the side a little. The two girls on the sides look pretty nervous but they were fine once they were talking.

Me playing the role of host and trying not to look as foolish as I felt - and failing miserably!

Our cheerful and very professional camera crew! I think they were drawn from the school's broadcasting club.

The best thing of all though, was that this ended up being my last morning broadcast of the year as we didn't have to do one on Friday as that was the last day of term. Hurray - no more rushing to school for Morning Class at least another 3 months!


  1. Excellent :) I bet you didn't have weekly tv/radio star in mind when you went out there. Although I have to confess I read the entire thing thinking Rowan was writing it and was then a bit surprised by the picture of Sophie.

  2. No I certainly didn't expect to be on school tv here! In fact, Rowan and I have also been interviewed several times for local TV stations since we've been here. It seems that Korean TV is keen to speak to any Waygooks (foreigners) they see wandering about near Korean cultural sites!

    Interesting that you though that Rowan was writing it. What made you think it was him? (Just curious).