Monday, December 15, 2014

I feel the Irony

At the end of my classes, I give out an anonymous survey asking the students questions like what was their favorite and least favorite part of the class and how were the tests/homework (in comparison to their other classes).  It never ceases to amaze me and actually makes me feel like it's perhaps time to leave Korea, and perhaps get out of teaching altogether.  Here's why:

Students always approach me and say that they want to improve their English skills and sound like a native speaker.  I try to be helpful and mention that it takes a lot of hard work and that to sound like a native speaker they actually need to become obsessed with English and be immersed in it, basically all the time through things like reading English books, newspapers and magazines, watching English TV and movies without the subtitles, and by making friends who you have to speak English with.

The students I teach are English majors, which means that when they graduate from university, they will probably have few marketable skills besides their English ability so it is definitely in their best interests to at least be proficient enough to get a job due to that alone.  Which is why I push my students pretty hard to improve their English skills and have very high expectations for them.

Now, the part that is so ironic and makes me feel amazed and stressed out, and a wee bit angry.  As I type this, I feel my blood pressure start to rise.  Anyway, on the survey, almost without fail students mention that:

I give too much homework because I gave them 4 assignment throughout the semester unlike their other professors who only gave them 2 things.  That's in a 16-week semester, so one small thing to do in a single month.

My tests are too difficult and that they require actually studying and knowing the material extremely well. And that it's not fair because I grade with all or nothing.

And that I don't really take into account "improvement" but instead just have high standards for everyone.

And that my classes are too difficult because I require things like differentiating between the future forms and knowing which situation to use them. Or, that I don't necessarily teach vocab or spend lots of time on it in class (things like body parts, or household furnishings), but that I point it out and expect students to know it for the test. Or, that I don't spend time teaching basic grammar like the simple past, I just point it out for reference but I expect students to know it perfectly for the test (they are English majors after all, not freshman engineering students).

Or that making students spend 2.5 hours out of the 16 week semester speaking in English to one of the professors at my school in the "Global Zone" was way too difficult and such a burden for them.

Or, that by only giving 10% of the grade to attendance, it's not fair because they attended every class and I should give them more credit for that.

And, it just makes me question what kind place do I live in where expectations for university students are so, so, so low. It's time for me to roll on out of here I think.

Anyway, still want the job?  Here's how:
How to Get a University Job in South Korea: The English Teaching Job of Your Dreams

Free: 40 Tried and Tested ESL Games and Activities

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