Habit is an important crutch when it comes to learning a language. The difficulty is in learning to expect pragmatic answers. Ask any Korean how they are, and I swear even if their dog or grandmother just died they'd tell you: "I'm fine thank you. And you?"
My last class of the day (most days) is with Paul's little sister, and an adorable but uncontrollable 6-year-old named Young-Chang. They usually drive me a little nuts because it's late and they don't want to study, and I'm exhausted and starving and I don't want to wrangle them.
Today I got up to erase the board with the kind of silent gloom that spells out to them "uh-oh, we've done it this time." Sometimes if they know they've pissed me off they'll actually say they're sorry at the end of the class and hug my legs and I'll tell them "that's okay."
Today they tried the same scam and I just didn't say anything.
Young-Chang looked up at me with a sort of sad, confused face.
"Teacher... where is my 'that's okay'?"
How could you possibly stay angry after that?
A Canadian writer teaches English and finds out what it's like to be a foreigner.