Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Time Wasting...

...I admit to being a time-waster in my first year teaching at a hagwon (private kindergarten/after-school kind of thing). Like, I'd plan my time in class based upon how I could fill up the minutes in the best way. Educational value was the second priority. Now, it was partly my fault for not reading up on ESL or taking a class before I came to Korea. But, I do remember expressing my frustrations/clueless-ness to the owner of my school and asking for advice and she said, "You speak English, how did you learn it?" Useless.

Anyway, just recently I encountered a teacher showing a movie in their class. They had the door open for some reason, so I stopped for minute to see what they were watching and say hello. The weird thing was that no students were watching. Like they were texting/talking to their friends, doing other homework and some were literally turned around in their seats, with their backs to the screen. The door was probably open because students were wandering in and out. And so I wondered what exactly the purpose was? There didn't seem to be one, except to waste everyone's time and fill up class time in a way that's easy for the teacher.

And so I thought a lot about how I plan my classes. These days, everything I do has a purpose:

I'll usually play a little warm-up game to start and the purpose is usually just that: to get the students thinking, in English, have a little fun and get their attention.

Paired conversations: to practice speaking, listening and asking questions. This is basic in a conversation class.

Readings in the book: usually to introduce new vocabulary, which is vital for improving language skills.

Grammar exercises. Usually a short lesson by me, a written and spoken practice session and then some sort of game or activity. Again, vital for improving language skills.

These are my basic activities in class that I'll do everyday. Other stuff, varies class to class. But these days, I feel like I have too much good stuff to do and not enough time! I wouldn't even imagine showing a movie that didn't have some sort of purpose or goal behind it. And so when you're planning your classes, try to get out of the mindset of wasting time and into the mindset of thinking about what kind of educational value this certain activity has.

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