Trying to run a class as other students keep coming into the office. It’s never anyone’s first choice as a classroom. However it works on many occasions like Monday through Friday for one hour when the academy is the busiest. The door stays open so my Korean speaking co-workers can answer the phone when it rings. Undoubtedly from a parent with concerns for their child, their English isn’t good enough/ they need more practice. More often it’s a machine with offers for a new cell phone plan or water cooler. My co-workers are also teaching albeit behind closed doors, it takes a few rings for them to hear it. Then they run as fast as they can to catch the phone before the caller hangs up. If it’s an advertisement, they call back several times. This is a trick I became familiar with while working in sales. It reminds me of Tim Allan in Galaxy Quest, ‘never give up; never surrender’. The office is always crowded with students. Middle school boys playing cell phone games like FIFA or the latest League of Legends knock off. Middle school girls pass by and bow to me. Then they notice the mirrored door frame and start check their hair, eyes, and lips. So many years ahead to check out their reflections. Some students fight their way to the copy machine grabbing at the mountain of paperwork printed off for them.
It’s a tough space to role play in but these two little guys are rallying. They pass a giant ‘band-aid’ back and forth; ‘Ouch, my arm’. They get out of their seats and pretend to be hurt on the ground. The older students turn, look and go back to their game. Finally, I’ve got something that they enjoy doing although not every role play is as exciting as pretending to hurt yourself and then lets be honest become a zombie. Everybody loves zombies because they’re fun. They make it a game and if it looks, smells and acts like a game then it must be English class. Or at least that’s how I want it. The older students are the same way. I’ve started bringing a beach ball into class for grammar review. This is basically a speaking exercise where students read the written exercises but they throw a ball to the next person. My students love this. They love to smash the ball into the heads of non-participating students, which means that everybody plays. It keeps them off their cell phones and out of the mirror because they have years ahead of them to do that.