Thursday, November 27, 2014

What Working at a University in Korea is Really Like. Part 4: Classes (or, what I do for 4 hours)

korea uni
What Working at a Korean Uni is Really Like

If you missed the first 3 parts of this series, check out:

Korean Universities: Schedules

Korean Universities: Classes

Korean Universities: Office Politics

One of the common questions that I get from Hagwon and public school teachers is what I actually do in my classes.  In hagwons, it's extremely rare to have the same students for more than an hour at a time and 40-45 minutes is more common.  In public schools, the class lengths are about the same and the Korean co-teacher usually does the bulk of the heavy lifting.

My classes range from 1.5 hours-4 hours with the same group of students.  4 hour classes can be quite hard to teach so I'll use that as my example.  Here's how I would I use the time (if I was given no materials that I had to teach):

I'd pick a topic such as "Youth unemployment in Korea," "Microfinance" or "Renewable Energy."  I choose stuff that I'm actually interested in and you'd be surprised-even seemingly difficult topics such as these can be adapted and made easier for as low level as high-beginners.  Things like movies, hobbies, food and pets are TOTALLY overdone and I refuse to use topics like these unless forced to (if I'm given a textbook with them in it, or have extremely low-level students-but I generally try to avoid total beginners!).

Hour 1: an introduction to the topic.  This usually involves some very general warm-up questions, key vocabulary, a sample conversation, or something like "describe the picture" for lower levels.

Hour 2: we get into the reading or listening (quite often both).  If you find articles from Breaking News English, you can do the listening first with some sort of "big-picture" questions.  I'd usually listen twice, with the first time just being simple true/false or matching or something and then the second time, I'd increase the level of difficulty and use some short answer or fill in the blank stuff.

Then, I'd get the students to read the same thing that they just listened to but they'd have to answer some serious "critical thinking" or advanced level "reading comprehension" questions where the answers require processing the information in a deep way, or the answers are very subtle and require some "reading between the lines."

Hour 3: Discussion questions based on what they just listened to and read.  The students would have to discuss in small groups of 3-4 people and then we'd talk together as a class.

Hour 4: Some sort of activity.  For example, when I talked about microfinance, I showed a couple videos from Kiva and showed the students my own portfolio of who I lent money to.

Or, it might involve a debate of some kind.  For example, on the topic of Youth Unemployment, it might be something like, "Who has the final responsibility for solving this problem: youth, the government, parents, industry or universities?"

Or, it could be a survey activity.  For advanced levels, they'd have to make their own survey question or two, ask their classmates, process the information and then report back to the class their results.  For lower levels, I'd probably give them the questions already prepared.

Or, I might do some writing activity of some kind where the students have to share their opinion on the topic.  But, I will quite rarely do this and my activities are generally slanted towards speaking.


limboland la la said...

Hello, a bit fortuitous that I stumbled upon your blog. :)

I'm over in the U.S. I have a MA in TESOL, have been teaching 3 years college level, and previous to my States experience 5 years in Bangkok.

I have the travel itch again...but am a divorced mama with a 6 year old daughter. Any chance you know of similar experiences to this at UNI level in Korea?

If it were just me, I could pick up some bags and go... are there any hiring fairs for Universities in the U.S.?

Jackie Bolen said...

Check out my latest blog post. I've answered your question.

limboland la la said...

Thank you--