Wednesday, March 27, 2013

An Activity for Travel/Weather/Seasons

I'm still studying away for the Delta.  The test is on June 5th, so I feel like the day of reckoning is coming or something like that.  Anyway, hoping for the best.  This is just a quick study break to write a blog post.

Almost every ESL textbook has a unit on Travel or Weather or Seasons.  Here is an excellent "task-based" kind of activity that you can do with your students, which will fit into any of these units really well:

Put the students into groups of 4-6 (I do it randomly).   The students are a tour company and the customers are my parents who are coming from Canada to Busan for a visit.  I will show them a picture of my parents and explain about the kinds of things they like and don't like (example: they like walking around, and sightseeing as well as watching sports, but they hate seafood).   Then, the students have to plan a 1-3 day tour (depending on the time for the activity/level of students) of Busan (or your city) for my parents. 

I usually give them around 20-30 minutes for the task, and at the end they have to share their ideas with me and the class.  I make a rule that 2-3 people should do the speaking, to give more students a chance to talk.  I pick the top groups, based upon the following:

1. I think my parents would love the tour
2. They just speak, and don't read from a paper
3. Their presentation was convincing. 

 And of course, they get a little prize (one stamp as part of my reward system).

This could also be adapted into a more comprehensive task, such as making a brochure or promo video or something like that.

Free: 40 Tried and Tested ESL Games and Activities

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Some Reader Questions...Copy-editing, uni jobs

"I have a bachelor's degree in history and a master's degree in journalism. Does that give me a leg up on the competition? For jobs that start in September, would you say that universities start posting job ads in April or so?

Also, do you also know of the availability of non-teaching jobs, like copy-editing, in Korea?"
My answers:
Yes, a masters in journalism will certainly help you get a uni job.  It ranks somewhere up there with a degree in English, but probably lower than a degree in Tesl or Education.  
Jobs for September will start coming out in April, but the late ones won't be out until July or August so don't give up if you don't get interviews right away.  Unis often do 2-3 rounds of interviews/hires anyway after their top choices decide on another offer.

Copy-editing?  Yes, it's possible but not exactly easy to find.  In my almost decade here, I've met precisely 2 people who worked as editors!  And literally thousands who worked at teachers.   So, you can calculate the odds there :)  

For all the tips and tricks and answers to your questions about university jobs in South Korea, check out this book:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Sorry for the lack of updates. Things are busy these days with the new semester underway.  I have a refreshing change from the engineering students of last semester and now teach students with majors like International Trade, Tourism or Business Administration.  Let's just say that their general English skills are far, far superior to my students from last semester. 

And, I've started studying online for the Delta, module 1.  It's the step beyond the Celta course and consists of 3 modules.  1 and 3 are possible to do online, but module 2 requires practice teaching so will need an in-person component somewhere. 

Anyway, it's intense.  Basically, my grammar skills are really not up to speed and I've had to spend a horrendous amount of time "catching up."  And I have a big test in 10 weeks that is already looming large on the horizon.  Hence the lack of blog updates!   See you again in another month.  Back to the modals, noun phrases and phonetic alphabet for me. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Reader Question...How Long?

This one from Jacob:

"How long is it possible for somebody like you to teach in Korea at the University level?"

My answer:

It's possible to spend decades teaching at Korean Universities and I've met a few people here who've done it.  There are a few things to consider though:

1. The market is becoming saturated in terms of a large number of very qualified teachers fighting for a limited number of "good" jobs.  It's becoming more and more similar to Japan where good uni jobs are few and far between and are mostly locked up by an elite few.  I have a feeling that Korean unis will realize this soon enough (if they haven't already) and job conditions will become not as fabulous as they are now.

2. Age discrimination is an issue in Korea.  You will likely not get hired here if you're above 60.  And if you start somewhere when you're younger and are approaching that age, watch your back and start exploring some other opportunities.

3. Some unis won't hire foreign instructors for more than 3-4 years because of issues to do with the Korea Teacher's pension plan.  In a teacher's fifth year, the school has to pay a significant amount more for their portion of the contribution than they did in years 1-4, which makes some places reluctant to keep people for the long-term.