"Study buddy" meet night was yesterday at the English Language Center. My flatmate Stetson had earlier forced me to question whether I really wanted a study buddy after hearing that I might not be willing to stay within a single language group to increase my chances of capturing one of them. I went to the ELC not really planning to walk away with any appointments, wanting instead to sate my curiosity about which sort of people would show up. (I had just found out that the City University of Hong Kong internship job I had applied for had been cancelled for lack of participation on their end, which halved my expected cash flow but relaxed my future schedule.)
A policy shift inspired the study buddy organizers to put all the Spanish-interested people in one room (the chapel there) and all the others in the recreation room behind. That way, I was easily able to survey all the groups at once. Last semester, there had been an excess of Mandarin-speaking natives, but Japanese and Korean and the others were about equal; Korean, in fact, had a slight deficit of native speakers, I think, which was exacerbated by some of them sharing the same BYU student (at my expense).
This time, the Chinese were equally matched, and I think the Japanese were too. There were no Mongolians, again. I didn’t find any Cantonese. One of the teachers was Thai, and she jokingly said she needed to learn more English… but. Then there was a Viet girl who seemed a little distracted and whom I wasn’t really able to talk with. She soon left. I didn’t really want a beautiful study buddy anyway, so that was fine… but after a teacher told me that that girl hadn’t ever been able to find a buddy (because nobody studies Viet), I told the teacher to contact me if that girl asked about the waiting list. In fact, I would really like the practice, if only I can avoid looking in her direction. Later, I thought I might try to introduce her instead to Will, the other guy in my (former) Viet 102 class. (There’s also a Viet girl in my Japanese 101 group who helped me a little after class today.)
Korean, on the other hand, had a poor showing of BYU students last night but a moderate number of native speakers. Nevertheless, after meeting the two boys and one of the girls, my interaction with them fizzled (I had, of course, gone over to the refreshment table, which was left over from the ELC social gathering immediately before the study buddy event). That was when I talked to the teachers… One of them seemed to refer me over to the Japanese group again. I knew they were all taken, but I went anyway. The lone Japanese guy, Hideto, who already had two or three other appointments but who was convinced that more was better, ignored my objections and insisted that we become study buddies. It turns out that we live very close to each other. I watched him afterward recapture one of the girls he’d scheduled (who probably had others of her own) who, like me, didn’t want to overburden him and tried to split up.
After he left, I saw some of the Koreans still lingering at the other wall. I went over just to tease them about sharing study buddies, asking if they’d filled their quota of 5 yet, or if they still needed some. In fact, the two girls I asked had failed to find a buddy. There was a third girl, they told me, who also couldn’t schedule anybody. I assured them that I’d be happy to meet with them. The third girl wanted to go on the "waiting list" instead, which is advertised as a hopeful option but which I don’t think bears much fruit. I told her to leave her name on the list, but that she could meet together with us three until she found somebody else. We decided on twice a week. (Hideto was once a week, of course — on my end.)
I went to Arby’s after that; I had a coupon for a free thing. I caught a bus back to school and dropped by the library to waste time, then came home. Stetson was there, and Ezra, my roommate, came later. I mentioned to them that they were free to come practice with me and the Koreans if they wanted to (Ezra was rather a Japanese student, and he unfortunately would be working when I met Hideto). Stetson liked the idea. I encouraged him to learn some Korean, and he wasn’t against that either, so we ended up having an introductory reading lesson right there. He took to it with enthusiasm, and I felt really good to be teaching Korean again.
Today my Thai teacher joked with me that I had too many languages and was going to write a book. I thought about it… I don’t really have a book idea, but I think I would quite enjoy teaching more languages than simply English. That would be fun, and respectable: I wouldn’t mind using English as a medium for broader instruction, as much as I disagree with it as an end-all of language learning. I’m not really qualified for teaching, except perhaps Cantonese, but qualified or not, I’ve already tried several times to teach as much as I know anyway. I think I can do basic Korean and Mongolian; maybe after this semester I’ll be able to do basic Mandarin. The two new ones might take a while.