Monday, June 14, 2010

What is easy is not always the best

I had an interesting conversation with a co-worker today about how to work the communicative approach but still get good student evaluations. He said (and I'd agree) that most Korean students just like to show up, get their grade for attendance, let you tell them the answers and pages to study for the test, memorize a few key things and be done with it. Actually learning English through engaging with it in a real kind of way is secondary. And I can understand, because for most of them learning English isn't really necessary at all. And so if you give in and appease them with this teaching style that essentially demands nothing of them, you'll probably get very good evaluations, which get looked at pretty closely during contract renewal time.

But I think other styles can work, although they are a bit harder to implement at the beginning. Basically, in a 90 minute class, I will talk in front of the class for about 5-10 minutes. Usually about 5 minutes explaining grammar, and about 5 more minutes on admin stuff and explaining activities. Although this style is not what Korean students are used to, in the end I think it puts the responsibility for learning English back into the student's hands. I'm more or a guide than a guru, which Koreans don't really understand at first. But by the end of the semester, most of my students say that my class is their favorite one out of all their uni classes or the best English class they've ever taken.

No comments: