Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Celta is done!

...and with a strong finish.  An above standard on my last lesson and my tutor said it was one of the best he'd seen at the Celta level.  Nice!  It was a listening lesson, with speaking/writing as a secondary focus.  Here is what I did:

1. Set the context.  I had students talk for a few minutes about what types of media are becoming more and less popular these days and why.

2. Pre-task (prediction). The listening was 5 people answering specific questions about their media usage.  So, I had the students predict answers to the 5 questions, such as: "Do people prefer watching movies in the theater or at home?"

3. Gist-listening task.  Then the students had to listen and see if their predictions were true.

4. Detailed listening task.  I had some questions for the students to answer, and I gave them time to read the questions before playing the listening again.

5. Post-task.  I had a few discussion questions, based on the listening.

6. Survey.  The students had to choose a media-related topic (from a list), make up some questions, survey their classmates and then report the results back to the group.  It ended up being a very interesting activity, and covered speaking/listening/writing, which is always ideal. 

Anyway, the course is done and I'm back to my normal life activities of having friends (besides those on the Celta course) and exercising, and stuff like that.  I got a "Pass B," which is slightly higher than most people who take the course.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Celta Teaching Practice 7

It's done!  To standard.  I tried to combine a reading lesson and a listening lesson (+ some speaking at the end) to challenge myself and in retrospect, I should have just chosen one focus and taken the easy way out.  And actually, that's a bit of a frustration for me.  You don't actually have to be creative, or interesting, or keep the students motivated and focused, and actually learning to get an above standard.  As long as you don't screw up and you have all the stages down, with a good context, it seems like you can get it.  If I went into my uni classes with these Celta lessons (that get standard or above standard), it would be crash and burn for the most part.           

Anyway,  only one more hour-long lesson to go, and it's a listening, which is quite hard to fail since the necessary stages of that type of lesson are pretty straightforward and clear.  Grammar or Vocab lessons are a bit trickier because there are more steps to them and with higher levels of students, it might be possible to get caught up on some difficult question or get confused about something.  The students I'm teaching now are smart, and really good at English!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Top 5 Reason to NOT Teach ESL in South Korea

Although I'm generally happy here in Korea (due mostly to my job situation being such a good one.  Ie: getting paid in full/on-time, nice housing, respect from my bosses, no micro-managing, health insurance/pension being legit), it can be a tough place for newbies working at sketchy hagwons or dealing with public school co-teachers and sometimes shoddy housing.  I had a rough time in my first year in Korea for sure.  Anyway, if you need a dose of reality as to why Korea is not necessarily a land overflowing with kimchi and dwenjang, check out this site:

Top 5 Reasons to NOT Teach ESL in Korea

However, don't just take my word for it.  Check out some other teacher's stories and advice.

Prisoner of Wonderland
A-Z of Teaching in South Korea

And of course, check out The Top 5 Reasons to Teach ESL In Korea for a balanced view of things.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Celta Update

The end is coming, with only 2 more weeks left of the course.  And 2 more teaching practices (and all the stress that comes along with it).  The transformation of the teachers in my group is pretty amazing (myself included perhaps?).  We were all generally clueless (in the Celta way) as to how to go about teaching a reading lesson or a grammar lesson.  And now, we can do it on our sleep and pick out the finer details of all the stages when observing our peers. 

The best thing about the course is definitely the small size of it.  There are 12 of us that get together for the "input" sessions, but then we're broken up into groups of 6 for the teaching practice.  It's kind of an ideal size to get to know each other really well and help each other out.

The worst thing for sure is the early mornings and commuting to Seoul.  But, of course, that's not the fault of the course and I signed up for it!  Thank god for the KTX, which at least makes it fast (albeit outrageously expensive).  I'm not sure the 1 month intensive option is really a better choice though.  I can't even imagine how exhausting that would be. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Peer-Graded Presentations

In my social issues class, I'm having students do a big group presentation, where I assign 50% of the grade and their classmates assign the other 50%.  We use the same grading criteria (interesting/good information/visuals/handout).  It's the first time I've done presentations this way and the results so far have been quite interesting.

The students assign grades an average of 4 points lower (out of 35).  I think it might have something (A LOT!) to do with only 30% of the class being able to get "A's."  Or, they might have higher expectations.  One thing I have noticed is that they seem to like the presentations that I thought weren't great, and not be so impressed with ones that I liked.  For example, one group had an excellent presentation, but they had some technical issues with their Powerpoint.  I would never grade a group lower due to technical difficulties, but most of the class did, and commented on it being an issue.  And, the students seem to be a lot more forgiving than I am about students reading their presentations (even though I told everyone it was a big no-no).  Maybe they feel some empathy! 

An interesting experiment and one that I'd probably do again in the future.  It definitely prevents people from sleeping!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Just a small early-morning rant

So today in my Social Issues Class, 1/2 of the students have a big group project that is worth 35% of their final mark.  Last week in class, I randomly picked which students would go this week and which students would go next week (it's a big class, and there is only time for 1/2 the class in one period).  One student told me he had MT (membership training) this week, so I made sure his group could go next week.  No other students mentioned any issues with dates.

Today (Wednesday) at 8am (the day of the project, which is at 2:10), I was out jogging around campus and I saw one of the students in that class.  He told me he had a problem, since one of his group members has a physical test for ROTC (army officer training).

My response: why didn't you tell me in class last week?

His response: we found out Monday morning.

And why didn't you tell me then?

We tried!

How exactly?  You have my Twitter, email, phone number, all of which I check multiple times each day.  And, I was in my office almost all of Monday morning.

Soooo...what can we do?!

(big sigh), you can go today.  It's far too late.

(back to Jackie again): Anyway, what if he randomly didn't see me out jogging?  Were they just going to tell me at the beginning of class? I like group projects and presentations, I just don't like the stress that goes along with them.  How do other people deal with it?