Let’s be real about this whole teaching gig. If you’re a teacher in the ESL world, chances are you’re probably in the same boat as me, and I’m no different than the thousands of other ESL teachers doing their thing abroad as I write this.
We are generally not at the same level as the native teacher at the school to which we’re assigned. There, I said it.
I want to stress “generally” because there are certain circumstances where an ESL instructor is, indeed, the ruler of his or her classroom kingdom. Universities, international and private schools, and probably some others may call for the ESL instructor to hold total responsibility for their classroom and students. Not to mention the administrative tasks that go along with the role.
My students, and I think most language students, struggle with the desire to be perfect. Often, when I ask my older students a simple question that I know they understand, I'm still met with...silence. Averted eyes. Maybe if we don't move she can't see us.
I recently realized that I am a complete hypocrite. Well, in all honesty I've known this for a while, especially when it comes to giving advice, but I had the fact practically thrown in my face the other night. As a teacher of a foreign language, I'm constantly trying to stress communication over perfection. By which I mean, it is more important that you can talk to someone, get your point across, even if your grammar is barely grammar and you're speaking mainly in nouns and hand gestures. Were you able to buy the coffee you wanted? Did they answer your question? Laugh at your joke? A+
ELT Live Webcast#2
Hows, Whats, and Whys (or why nots)
of class websites and other online resources.
September 2, 2014
I love beginnings. First day of the new year, first day of school, first month in a new apartment. There's this sense of possibility, this sense that now you can finally do all those things you meant to do. You can change the things you meant to change, get going in a different direction. I have a really bad habit of getting...lazy toward the end of something. If I'll be moving in a month or two, I have no motivation to organize my apartment. If the semester is about to end, I have no motivation to rearrange my classroom or find more interesting lessons. I know it's a terrible way to feel, but alas, I'm stuck in the brain I'm in.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but July 13th marked 4 years in Korea for us! We’re a little bit late on celebrating this, but with our Youtube milestones and summer vacation, we didn’t want to overwhelm you guys with too much of the same thing (that thing being awesomeness hehe)!
One of the events I dread the most at my public school is the English speech competition. Kids reading memorized speeches most of them didn’t even write, about boring topics, with robotic hand gestures? No thank you. I’ve always hated judging those, because it just feels so disingenuous and unproductive. But this year, the administration at my school had the good sense to change things up! Instead of an English speech competition, they decided to host an English Festival! Sounds fun, right?
Now, the name camp is a bit misleading. Before I started teaching I always thought of camp, especially summer camp, as a place where you go for a week or longer and stay overnight and whatnot. In the Korean school system, though, it's just a name for extra classes in various subjects. Cooking camp, guitar camp, English camp, science camp, you name it. Some camps go on for most of the vacation, while some are only a few days long.
One of the hallmarks of teaching English in Korea is the often dreaded summer and winter "English Camp". What is an English Camp, you ask? In it's most basic form, a camp is a combination of daycare and conversation club. It's like English class minus any serious studying. If you plan it right, it's actually really fun.
Well? Good question.
Before I came to Korea, I'd been considering both Japan and Korea as possible destinations. Thanks to a dumb mistake on my JET application (postmarked by and received by are VERY different, kids), Japan fell out of the running pretty early. However, that doesn't mean that there weren't plenty of reasons why Korea felt like a good choice.
After "What's your name?", "How old are you?", "Do you have a boyfriend?", "Why not?" and "Do you know Dokdo?", one of the most common and weirdly challenging to answer questions I get in Korea is "Why did you come to Korea?" Why Korea, and not some other country? Why would you fly halfway across the world, leave everything familiar, and take a job here?
Being enough of an idealist to want to instil a sense of empowerment in my students, along with ownership of their own learning, I’ve been carrying out periodic learning reviews during this semester. These have basically asked students to reflect on their learning and my teaching and the results - whilst undoubtedly valuable - have also been apt to bring me down a peg or six at times. There was the kid who just scrawled TOO DIFFICULT all over his paper, or (worse) the one that wrote ‘I’m so sad I can’t speak to my friends in your class, because your class is too hard to me ㅠㅠ’. ‘ㅠㅠ’ are characters in the Korean alphabet used to represent crying eyes, and in this particular instance they initiated the appropriate response in me.