Friday, 13 March 2009

Sign of the times

During my second spell in Korea I have paid a little more attention to the dialogue and vocabulary used in my classroom. I have noticed a worrying and depressing trend with some students. There has been a rise in the aggressive language used by some of the kids. Words I continue to hear constantly, by a few students include "Kick", "Punch", "Hit", "Psycho", "Crazy", "Nuclear", "Kill" and "Die". I must add that the majority do not use these but those who do are boys, usually in elementary school. Korea's a pretty peaceful country on the surface but the recent shootings in Germany and a discussion with my new partner teacher has led me to think more about what should and shouldn't be allowed in class.

Where are they getting these words from? I don't like to use these words in class but admit I have used some of them, but mainly in response to them using similar words. I am conscious of the example I set to some of the students so try to use appropriate language as much as possible. My theory is a) Computer games, b) Over-exposure to TV/Film violence, c) The North Korean situation that hangs over the peninsula.

Ask many a student here about what they want to do in their free time and they will more than likely say play a computer game. Usually in a PC Room. I find it utterly depressing that these youngster's do not want to play outside more often - yes there are not so many parks as back home, but there are things to do outside. I played my fair share of video games when I was younger but not to the extent that they do here. 'It' is everywhere. It cannot be a coincidence that so many kids in my classes wear glasses compared to the amount of kids I knew when growing up.

Regarding TV/Film violence, that's a worldwide problem I guess. I have though noticed being in a cinema where some kids have been allowed in to watch some films that are indisputably unsuitable for children. Onto the ongoing North Korean drama, perhaps kids are oblivious, perhaps not, but the existence of Nuclear technology in the North is known by my students but they don't seem to talk about that much. It could be a passing phase, or boys being boys, but it's disconcerting to hear children talk so much about death and destruction and as one student (who drew the picture) keeps saying, "Kill the people".

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