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ESL Speaking Lesson Plan Template

ESL Speaking lesson plan template

Whenever I talk to people who are preparing a lesson plan or a demo lesson in order to get ready for an ESL teaching job interview, I’m always surprised that many people really have no idea how to plan a lesson. I was pretty clueless too, until I took the CELTA and the DELTA where my trainers beat this ESL speaking lesson plan template into my head such that I could basically recite it in my sleep.

How to Teach English, the Awesome Way

So you Want to be Awesome? So you want to know how to teach English, the awesome way? I have some good news for you. It’s really not that difficult and actually, teaching English isn’t like rocket-science. While some people may tell you that you need all these qualifications or whatever, in reality, someone with

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Level Up your Teaching Game: A Resource for Busy Teachers

resources for busy English Teachers

Usually Not My Style…

Korean Students Write the Darndest Things

Part of my job as a high school English teacher in South Korea involved giving out, and then correcting, weekly creative writing assignments. It quickly became one of my favorite parts of the experience, as it allowed my students to apply the language with more freedom and personality. It also helped me to get to know them in a more private way. From unintentionally funny remarks, to profound realizations, their writing was a joy to read.

Below is a small collection of some of my favorite excerpts. I’ve also taken the liberty of underscoring their messages with related images. Perhaps this could have been made into some sort of class project… Enjoy!

Teaching ESL Abroad as a Career: A Good Option?

Lots of people ask me about teaching ESL abroad as a career and whether or not it’s a good option. My answer is: sometimes, it really depends on the person. Teaching English abroad doesn’t exactly fit into the category of a “serious” job where you make “serious” money like you would doing many things back home,

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The One thing you need to know before moving to Korea

It’s not “goodbye.” It’s “안녕히 계세요.”

2-3 students

Goodbyes are always tough. But yesterday, during my last day as an English teacher at Ulsan Sports Science School, I experienced a whole new level of emotional farewells. Over the past year, I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by wonderful coworkers and enthusiastic students, all of whom consistently went above and beyond with their generosity, kindness and sincerity to make me feel welcomed and cared for.

10 EPIK Haikus

As my year with EPIK comes to a close, I find myself thinking a lot about the experience. Below are 10 haikus that reflect what I’ve learned while living, teaching and traveling in South Korea (though really they’re applicable to anyone teaching or living abroad anywhere!).


My 1st Day Teaching in Vietnam

It’s so hot here. So hot. So jungly. Me and my heat rashes are definitely going through an adjustment period!


My morning walk...gorgeous but fucking hot as fuck
My morning walk…gorgeous but fucking hot as fuck


My first day of teaching was yesterday…..


Teaching Mixed Level ESL Classes

conversation class
Mixed Level ESL Classes are a Big Problem!

One of the negatives of teaching at a university in Korea is that students are often grouped according to what major they take and not what their level of English is. This results in classes having one or two students who are semi-fluent (having studied overseas perhaps, or private institutes for years) mixed in with a few students who struggle to say their name and how old they are. The instructor is then supposed to make one class fit all. This not only happens in Korea, but in all countries around the world due to administrative constraints.

Teaching Mixed Level ESL Classes: What to Do

Charades ESL Game

charades esl speaking game

Charades: An ESL Speaking Game

Charades ESL Game: An Introduction

Skills: Speaking
Time: 20-30 minutes
Level: Beginner to Advanced
Materials Required: White board

You can use this charades ESL speaking game to review whatever you’re studying. For example, verbs work especially well. Write out some phrases or words that can be easily acted out on small pieces of paper and put them in an envelope.

How to Teach ESL Speaking


Teaching ESL 101

Over at my new website, My Life! Teaching in a Korean University, there are some posts which you need to check out if you teach conversation or speaking classes. Kind of a “how to teach ESL speaking 101.”

Expanding Vocabularies, Expanding Minds

When I think of a teacher, I imagine more than just a person giving a lecture in front of a class. I picture someone who, in addition to educating students, also acts as a coach, a mentor, a friend, and quasi-parental figure; someone who guides and influences young people on their quest to understand the world, the people around them, and how they fit into it all.

ESL Icebreakers

ESL icebreakers

ESL Icebreakers

Icebreakers are an excellent way to start your class–they help your students ease into speaking English and they can also help them get to know their classmates. Here are a few of my favorite ESL icebreakers that I use in my own classes.

Just a Minute ESL Speaking Challenge

This is a good one for both kids and adults. Students have to speak for one minute, about a certain topic without stopping.

When your friends leave Korea

Well, it happened.  Much earlier than I had anticipated, way earlier than I'd hoped, and so much earlier than I'm ready to understand.  It was bound to happen.  I had read many articles about it.  Most foreigner friends don't plan on staying in Korea for more than a couple of years, if that.  I just didn't expect my closest friend in Busan (in my neighbourhood, no less) to be leaving for good in 5 days.

A Take on EPIK Intakes: When to start?

Native teachers enter the EPIK program via one of four different intakes: Winter, Late Winter, Fall, and Late Fall. Regardless of when they start, all teachers receive the same pay and benefits; and no intake is reserved for hiring more or less experienced teachers.  So when it comes to beginning your year in Korea, objectively speaking, no time of the year is better than another; and one could argue it really doesn’t matter. But after giving it some thought, I’ve realized there actually are pros and cons to arriving with each intake; which really means (if you have the luxury and freedom to choose) it is important to consider when you’d like to embark on this adventure. To make the comparison easier, let’s generalize the intakes into two groups: Winter and Fall.

TREEt Others The Way You Want to Be TREEted

Not Just A TreeIt’s the classic golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. But in the East, it’s more like: treat elders and higher ranking officials the way you’d want to be treated if you were in their position, whatever it takes.

Whether it’s a matter of age or authority, hierarchy is of the utmost importance in Korea. At all times, younger or lower ranking people make concious efforts to show their superiors the proper amount of respect they deserve; from the way they introduce themselves to higher ranking people, to the way they acknowledge or address them, to the way they eat and drink with them–as well as…how they plant trees for them.

Age Ain’t Nothin But A Preference

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. The host for this month is Rebecca Thering, and here‘s where you can read the rest of this month’s posts. I’ll be posting a new ESL-related article on my blog on the 5th of every month. Check back for more articles, and if you’d like to contribute to next month’s Blog Carnival, please contact Dean at, and he will let you know how you can start participating!

Haeundae Beach Holi Hai 2015

Taking Chances

Blackout Poetry (Part 1)

This week I did a lesson on blackout poetry with my intermediate level high school students! Normally the project is done with texts from newspapers, magazines or novels, but I was worried about the vocabulary being too broad/out of reach. I wanted my students to focus on having fun, being creative, and playing with the language, rather than looking up/learning new words. So instead, I typed up a batch of their weekly English essays, omitted the names, and returned them for use with this assignment! Not only did this assure that the vocabulary was appropriate, it also made the assignment more personal and interesting!

Actions Speak Louder Than Language Barriers

Today I received a wonderful compliment from one of my high school students. To give some context to the essay snippet below: I teach at a public boarding school where the students stay on-campus 5 or 6 nights a week. Most of them are from the area, so they can easily go home on the weekend. But some, like the student in this story, have to travel 4+ hours one way by bus, so they don’t go home nearly as often. It’s hard on all of them, but especially so for those who only see their friends and family once every few weeks or months.

My Renewal Decision and 4 Life Lessons That Helped Me Make It

After thinking heavily about whether or not to renew my contract with EPIK, I’ve decided to return home in August. Signing on for a second year would offer me several enticing financial benefits and mouthwatering travel opportunities. And I’ve had a positive experience at my school, where I would continue to work if I were to renew. But during my time in Korea, I’ve learned or re-learned four life lessons, and made some new discoveries about myself, that have persuaded me to wrap things up at the one-year mark.

Teaching English in Korea – General Q & A

To Renew or Not Renew – A Pros and Cons List



To renew or not renew…that is the question…whether tis nobler in the waygook to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous English teaching…okay I’m done.

But seriously, the question of whether or not to renew your contract with EPIK is basically the biggest decision you’ll make once you’ve landed in Korea. There are pros and cons to both outcomes, and just like everything else in life there is no universal right answer. It’s totally subjective and dependent on your specific situation. But as the list below shows, there are still pros and cons to consider for both options:

RTBC Day Thirteen: What’s in your edtech toolbox?

So, I totally fell off the wagon with this 30-day reflective teaching blog challenge…which I started back in September or October of last year. But I’m BACK on board!

Name the top edtech tools that you use on a consistent basis in the classroom, and rate them on their perceived (by you) effectiveness.

Student Writing Sample: Goals for the New School Year

What are your goals for the new school year? Think of two large, general goals and three small, specific goals. Tell me what those goals are improtant to you and what you will do to achieve them.

“Fighting!” is a common expression of encouragement in Korea.

It Takes A Village

Starting last week my school moved to its new, permanent location about 20 minutes outside the city. The campus is absolutely huge and beautifully tucked into the valley of some small mountains with a distant view of the ocean (pictures to come later)! However, it makes for a bit of a longer commute and especially for me, since I don’t have a car, a slightly more complicated journey to and from school.

The Beauty In the Ugly

Gajisan - Yeongnam AlpsWoody Allen is quoted saying, “Eighty percent of life is just showing up.” But after coming to teach English and live in South Korea, I’ve come to believe it’s about much more than that. One-hundred percent of life is about showing up with the best version of yourself.

A cross-country endeavour!

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