Today’s article is written for the Reach To Teach Teach Abroad Blog Carnival, a monthly series that focuses on providing helpful tips and advice to ESL teachers around the globe. I'll be posting a new ESL related article on my blog on the 10th of every month. Check back for more articles, and if you'd like to contribute to next month's Blog Carnival, please get in touch with me by leaving me your details in the contact form, and I'll let you know how you can start participating!
Language can be expressed in many different forms which makes it so great when people can't communicate verbally. I know a few key phrases and greetings in Korean but I am still learning as I go and it can get pretty frustrating at times when I need more than a few key phrases to get through an important transaction, a request with my bank teller, or to simply ask "do you deliver? if so, can I purchase this dresser and have it delivered at this address on this particular day and specific time!" See...I bet that was a mouthful just reading it!
Good thing we live in a world that is so technologically advanced that no matter what your needs, they can be easily met through a simple application on your phone. I use iTransalate and it has done wonders for me so far. With this app, I was basically able to type that mouthful you just read and have it translated into Korean for the store associate. Then of course I had to immediately switch the settings so that she could respond in Korean and have it translated into English. Yes, it took about a good 30 minutes but at least I have a dresser now!
Here I am at Homeplus (Korean version of a Super Walmart) and I have my dresser ordered and feeling quite accomplished. Before exiting, I quickly remembered that I needed a stepping stool for my kitchen because I can't reach the top shelf (short girl problems). This is where iTranslate sort of "failed" me. See, you have to buy the app in order to use it limitlessly and I had been putting it off since it allows you 10 free uses per day and I've never had to use it that much or rely on it everyday. I didn't happen to keep track of the "conversation" the previous store associate and I had but apparently, we must've talked up a storm because I had used up all my 10 uses. Thinking back, I could've pulled an image of a stepping stool from google but at the time I was focused on other creative ways to ask a group of four store associates, that were conversing among themselves, where I could find a stepping stool.
After getting their attention, I began mimicking how a stepping stool was used. Filled with confusion, they tried to follow my body gestures as I kept emphasizing on this invisible "object" beneath my feet that I continuously kept climbing. Well before you know it, all four of them were mimicking my steps in hopes of better understanding me but we created a situation that looked more like we were attempting to do a Korean version of the "cha cha slide" with me being the lead of course! We couldn't help but laugh at ourselves for a good five minutes at how silly we must've looked in the middle of the aisle. Truly a memory I can never forget about my first month in Korea.