gra-dult-hood n.

1. A stage in life between graduation and adulthood.
2. Gradulthood often involves jobs that don't fulfil a graduate's expectations.
3. A term coined during the recession.

A Gradult in South Korea: Teaching English.

In the first of two, back-to-back, gradult abroad articles, Christian Lapper writes about a day in the life of an English teacher, and how it feels to stand in front of a class of children who don't speak your language:

'I’m sitting here, looking at them. They aren’t looking back. Not that I really want them to anyways, as I have nothing to say to them at the minute. Besides, they’re far too busy with their mobile phones (which make my own look like it was used in a New Kids on the Block music video), playing with these indiscernible cards or singing high pitches covers of the latest grating pop song to even notice me.

Of course, I know what I’m going to teach them. Today I’ll be attempting to explain the past tense. Again. I made a fairly detailed lesson plan during lunchtime and I’m quietly confident that the kids will listen to me whilst I try to implement it. Whether they’ll understand me is another thing entirely, but they should at least listen to me talk. And, of course, if all else fails, I will start to do the activity myself in the vague hope that they will cotton on and just copy me.

But am I really qualified enough to be standing here in front of a class full of impressionable Korean youths?
I mean, one of these kids could grow up to be the next Korean President, or UN Secretary General. Unlikely, sure, but not impossible. And then looking back at their very first real exposure to Westerners, they will see me trying to teach them prepositions against a Beatles soundtrack. Is this really what the world needs from its leaders in 2050?

Back home, I know a fair amount of peers plying their trade as newly qualified teachers. They’ve gone through months of vigorous (or so I’m told) amounts of training, work placements and thesis writing before being let loose to fly solo in the English education system. They know what they’re doing. They’ve been trained in the art of teaching young children. They even have a handy support system, which they can refer to in times of need. And, of course, they have the luxury of speaking the same language as the children they are trying to teach.

So, am I at a disadvantage? I have no real teacher training, no real grasp of Korean. I feel like I’ve been plucked from Non-League football to play at Brazil 2014. Or maybe those back home are at the disadvantage. After all, we are basically doing the same job, more or less, and they’ve had to jump through a hell of a lot more hoops to get there than I have. And, of course, there are no real expectations of me right now, like there would be if I was working at some depressing comprehensive in Corby. And, happily, I can play my music whenever I want.'

On Gradulthood tomorrow, Dave Procter talks about a day in his life in Colombia.

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