Friday, February 20, 2015

Top 5 Tips for Newbies to Teaching in Korean Universities

It's that time of year again as the new semester starts in a week or so. Even though I've been doing it for years, I still get a little bit nervous. But, it's nothing like it was before my first semester teaching at a university. Instead of feeling a bit nervous, it was a feeling more akin to terror. Anyway, nothing I can say is going to make you feel less nervous, but here are a few tips to help you.

Top 5 Tips for Newbies to Teaching at Korean Universities:

1. Lower your expectations, particularly for freshman English classes. First year of university is a time of rest between high school hell and mandatory army hell for the boys, so they just want to have fun, enjoy their freedom and perhaps find a girlfriend.

2. Simple is best. You may have plenty of fabulous ideas for how you're going to have the raddest classes ever but always remember that simple is best. Your students are probably going to be lower level than you would expect them to be. 

3. You can't fight the system. Things like passing seniors who never show up to class and/or fail every single assignment and test will seem ridiculous to you. Get over that and the quicker the better. You are a lone foreigner and nobody actually cares what you think about the Korean university system.

4. Be fair and care. You don't need to be the funniest, or the coolest, or the most handsome teacher in order to be popular. It is actually easier than that. Just be fair and treat all students the same and also show them that you care. Remember their names, talk to them outside of class, be a decent human being in case of a problem of some kind. Never use the power that you have to your advantage but instead be humble.

5. Fly under the radar. Build yourself a reputation as a stellar teacher but also work on being the person who never has any negative interactions, with anybody. NEVER complain to the admin about anything and try to ask for as minimal amount of their help as possible. I make it my goal to always fly under the radar and only have positive interactions with the powers that be.

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Anonymous said...

Don't fight the system - you won't win.
Best advice!

Jackie Bolen said...

Yes, it's futile for sure.