Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Congratulations Cause It's Your Birthday

I had a revelation today. I had been struggling with my afternoon kindergarten class because some of the students are progressing at a very fast pace learning English and others can't master the most basic of motor skills.

I finally asked how old each student was. Some students are Korean 10 years old and some students are Korean 6 years old!! Four years of difference!

So an explanation...In Korea you are age one (1) when you are born. Apparently, they count the gestation period. Then you only turn a year older (graduate age levels) on the Gregorian calendar new year.

Take, for example, a baby born on December 28, 2006. His/her age is one. Then the calendar shifts to 2007. A four day old baby could be considered two years old.

This becomes very problematic when signing your children up for school. They often start kindergarten at Korean age 5. When thinking about it from an American stand point, that child is probably only 4, and in the case of the example above, only 3.

The genius behind this system is that you always get two celebrations. You always celebrate your 'birth day' and you celebrate the day you turn a year older (New Year's Day). On either day you're sure to hear a rousing chorus of ....(clap along)

Congratulations, Cause it's your birthday,

Congratulations, Cause it's your birthday,

It kind of blew my student's minds when I told them I wouldn't be turning a year older. Not for another eight months. Now I know why when I asked my students on their birthdays "How old are you now?" I got blank looks. On their actual 'birth days' they stay the same age.

Another down side of the whole process is that you end up sharing your 'age day' (New Year's) with the whole of Korea and much of East Asia.

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