Friday, December 31, 2010

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Little things help you land the big TEFL Job

Some excellent tips from Ted for those who are applying for ESL teaching jobs abroad.  I agree wholeheartedly!

If you follow his tips, you've already beat out 1/2 your competition!  It really is that easy.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Different level students

I've ended up teaching a 2 week intensive class for those students who failed their freshman English class the first time 'round and need it in order to graduate.  The desperate of the desperate essentially.  And most of them are truly terrible at English. 

In my regular class during the semester, I'll have one or two of these students in each class, mixed in with some average ones and then a few ringers who are little English geniuses.  This makes it very hard to teach at a level that makes everyone happy.  But this class I'm teaching now, they're all at the same level: very low.  And I'm actually finding it much more enjoyable.  Like I know what I'm dealing with so I can adapt my class and take everything really, really slow.  And nobody is bored I think and they actually appreciate how simple I'm making it. 

Anyway, my point is this.  If I had to choose between a mixed level class with a few stars in it, or a completely low-level class, I'd take the low-level one any day.  Of course, a class with all high-level students would be better!  Haha!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Should foreigners be tested for Aids?

An accurate article from a top North America magazine "Time" about foreigners having mandatory HIV tests here in Korea.  But, let's be clear about the situation.  Prostitutes, entertainers and migrant workers are exempt, it's only the ESL teachers.  Unbelievably. 

Brian's commentary here.

Thursday, December 23, 2010 maybe don't make teaching at a Korean uni your long-term plan

From the Korea Times.  Not the main focus of the article, but in 10 years time, the number of college freshman is expected to be 1/2 of what it is now because of falling birthrates.  My uni is already pushing to recruit Chinese students to bolster their ranks.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

On getting extra work

I was talking with my friends last night about pay at a Korean University. One of my friends who works at another uni, said that she would appreciate it if Korea unis would bump up the pay by 100 000 or 200 000/month after a couple years service.  I said that I didn't really care and am quite happy working for the salary I agreed to when I started, plus a little cost of living increase once in a while.

It's not about the base pay, but it's about the overtime opportunities.  There really isn't that much difference between 2.0 million and 2.3.  And, as my other friend that I work with pointed out, if you make more than the newbies you work with, it just makes your more expendable.  So back to the overtime.  When you are at the interview, you really should ask about overtime opportunities.  You will have plenty of free time, so can reasonably do 5-20 hours/week of overtime.  If the uni doesn't have any, I wouldn't necessarily work there unless the base pay was over 3.0 million.  But, if the uni has opportunities, this is how you can really make good money at a uni in Korea.  And, the longer you stay at a uni, the more connections you will make and the more offers you get.

What's your experience been like?  Lots of overtime?  Not so much?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Searching ESL Cafe

Okay, so that last post about taking a break for some R&R was kind of a lie.  I had good intentions, but as soon as I finished writing it, I checked my google reader and what popped into my list, but something too good not to blog about. 

ESL Cafe is the site for English teachers in Korea.  Jobs, forums, idea cookbook.  All good stuff. The horrible thing is the search function on the forums.  However, hope is here!  Thanks Brian for the tip.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Grades are in...

The semester is done and all my grades are entered into the computer.  Thankfully.  It was a good, but a long one and I'm feeling weary.  Now, for some much needed rest and relaxation and Christmas festivities with coworkers and friends.  Then, onto some studying for my upcoming trip to the Philippines to do a scuba diving instructor course.  Back on the other side of the desk for a while for me. 

So my readers, updates will be sporadic(once or twice a week) until mid-Feb when I'll start thinking and contemplating and planning for next semester.  Then, I'll be back to my regularly scheduled blogging.
If you're fixing for a hit of learning though, why don't you check out this book?  It comes highly recommended by me!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Top 50 Blogs for Teaching Abroad

I've been featured on a list for the Top 50 Blogs for Teaching Abroad.  There is lots of good stuff on the list that I've added to my Google Reader.  Check it out.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Do I really need technology to teach English

I would argue that in most cases the answer is no.  I've talked about it here and there on this blog but I've posted all my arguments in one place to make it easier to see what I really think.  Check it out here and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Teacher Development

And...another site of mine that focuses exclusively on teacher development and becoming a better teacher.

Games and Activities for the ESL Teacher

Lots of people that find their way to my blog, find it through searching for games or activities they can do in the classroom.  To make the information on this blog easier to access, I've started a new site that profiles the games I use in the classroom.  And this is the site where I plan to list the activities that I do.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Helpful Sites for the ESL Teacher

I've started posting on another site called Squidoo.  The content on there and here will mostly be the same, except it will be easier to find what you're looking for on Squidoo.  I've analyzed what people are searching for when they come to my site and I hope to be able to refer them to another site of mine that is more specific to what they're looking for.  No more wading through stuff that you're not interested in.  And don't worry, if you want all your information in one place, it will all still be on here as well.

I know that Squidoo has lots of ads.   Some people hate that in a website, so I still plan to maintain this site mostly ad-free.  But, if you do visit my Squidoo pages, please click on a few things.  I will be giving 1/2 the money I make to Kiva, which is my charity of choice.   They make loans to small entrepreneurs in developing countries.  You should check it out.

Anyway, my first new site that I'll introduce is: Websites for ESL Teachers.  This is the place to go if you need a bit of inspiration for your classes and want to introduce some new activities or games.  I've added a personal blurb to each link saying specifically how I use it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

Reader Question...difference between English/ESL

This one from Sam:

"I have a B.A in English (Literature & Composition).  I also have a Masters in Science: Curriculum,Instruction, & Assessment. There is a job in Korea that is seeking an ESL Teacher.  Are my degrees sufficient or do I need more experience with ESL?  What are the major difference from teaching mainstream English as opposed to teaching ESL? Any suggestions would be helpful."

To answer the first part.  Your qualifications are more than sufficient.  All you need is a BA in basket weaving to teach here.  If you want to work at a uni, standards are a bit higher but you seem to have it covered with your masters degree.

Secondly, teaching ESL and teaching mainstream English are a world apart.  If you have extremely high level students, and are teaching an "English writing" or "English literature" class then it might be somewhat comparable to what you'd be doing back home.  Except these jobs are few and far between in Korea.  At my uni, only 2 or 3 out of the 25 of us actually teach these high level classes.  Anyway, the major difference is that you won't be teaching content, you'll be teaching very basic English vocab, grammar and conversation strategies.  If you have lower-level students, then think, "How are you today" and "What color is this?"  Mid-level students, then think, "What's your favorite movie?"  or "What did you eat for breakfast today?" 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Quiz Show

I usually have a class of review before the midterm and final exams.  I choose a couple of games that we can play.  This week, I've been doing a Jeopardy kind of quiz show. 

I make up categories from stuff that is on the test: "Vocab, grammar, movies, body"  I think of questions that range from easy ($100) to difficult ($500).  I put the students in groups of 3 or 4 and the they have to pick their category and question.  They can pick whatever they want, but the key is that if they get it correct, they obviously get the points.  If wrong, they get minus that number.  I put in a few +/- 500/1000 to make it more interesting.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


We all know and love Bingo.  I remember back when I was a kid and I just couldn't get enough of it.  Well, believe it not, university students in Korea seem to enjoy it as well.  Except if I did it where I just called out the words, and they crossed them off I probably couldn't really consider myself a real teacher.  So, instead I modify it to make it more more educational.  It's actually a fabulous way to get students to review a large amount of vocab.

I make up a grid, and at the bottom list all the possible words they can choose from.  They take a few minutes to write in the words that they want.  Then, I just give hints about the words and they need to figure out what I'm taking about.

Examples:  "I have many of them in my mouth" =teeth
"It's something difficult, not easy to do" =achievement

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A group project idea

This week in my classes, I've been doing group projects worth 20% of their final score. 

The students could go in groups of 1-5 people.  I always hated group projects in school, so I like to give the option on going alone (maybe only 1 person/class chooses this).  They have to choose a problem such as global warming, eating junk food, human rights in North Korea, etc and make a poster about it that's worth 10%.  I give points for things such as how beautiful it is, English writing on it, and grammar. 

Then, they have to do a presentation about their poster worth 10%.  I take off points for reading from a script, and copying from the internet and give points for interesting and clear speaking.  Each student in the group has to talk for 1-2 minutes.

Results so far?   Quite good.  The students have done some amazing posters and there is always at least one group in the class who does a fabulous presentation.  They seem quite happy and proud of themselves when they're finished.  And not that it's all about me, but it has been a nice break from being up at the front and doing lesson plans for the week :)

I did this assignment before, a couple years ago but I was much more rigid with the groups and made everyone be in a group of 5. This time, by being flexible, it's caused me much less stress and made it a much better experience for the students as well because they can just go with their friends and don't have to work with people they don't want to.