Tuesday, March 8, 2011


There is a new aviation services program at my university, and it's basically for those who want to be a stewardess or ticket agent at one of the airlines in Korea.  I was one of the "lucky" ones chosen to get in on the program from the start.  I use lucky a bit sarcastically because I'm one of those people who'd rather just be given a book and a little bit of direction and go off and do my thing, instead of being part of the confusion that a new program inevitably is for the first year. 

Anyway, the class I'm teaching is with a quite advanced group, for 3 hours a week.  At night.  And non-credit.  I met the students on Monday night and they seem enthusiastic and smart, but I fear that by the end of the semester, that no matter what I do I'm going to have about 5/20 students coming on a regular basis.  If it was your first year of freedom away from your parents, would you want to come to an English class every night, if it had no grades or credits attached to it?  Probably not.  And so I tried to offer a bit of incentive with a galbi/soju party at the end of the semester for anyone with perfect attendance. 

I'm at the point in my teaching career where I'd take a class with grades any day over one without.  I don't mind administering tests and grading them because I have a system where it doesn't really take me that long to do it.  And I think people are generally lazy (including me!) and need tests/grades of some sort to inspire some studying along the way. 

What's your opinion?  Grades or no grades?  What do you like?


aisforanxiety said...

The most important thing I would say is maintain - if possible - the sense of wonder and question that very young children naturally have. What's that? why's that? What does that mean? Most of us I think lose this sense of wonder by early adulthood. Even in universities - it is probably gone in most people - apart for perhaps the very brighest.

If you have this desire for knowledge - learning is fun and not work.

So on balance I would say no grades - Did Plato set exams for his pupils in 'The Academy?' No, of course not - but we need all be realists to.

Living in a global economy - we all have to measure 'outcomes'.

So while I say no reality dictates that the answer will probably need to be yes.

Just a bit about myself. I have been trawling blogs tryong to get a sense of South Korea. I have a Master's degree but am in a career rut at the moment working in a call centre at the age of thirty five. I have decided to do a TEFL in May amd then go abroad to teach.

I have seen mixed reports about South Korea. There are possibilities to save money to nightmare stories about teachers not getting paid etc. What advice would you give to someone in my position?

Jackie Bolen said...

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