Monday, May 30, 2011

Reader Question...a move from Japan to Korea

These ones from Jeff:

"I wanted to ask if there were any job possibilities in Korea as things in Japan are drying up and working at better Uni's is hard to come by.  We have 30 weeks a year for teaching, 15 per semester but the Ministry of Education and the Work Laws have changed and forced those of us who depend on part-time positions to run like crazy from uni to uni to make ends meet.  My guess is the work year is longer there but the pay and housing is better according to what I've seen on your page.  Is there a common board where jobs are posted by Korean uni's or is it word of mouth.  I have heard that working 3 days a week can actually save a load of money and live well.  I'm working 6 days a week at the moment and teaching 20 classes at the moment."
You paint a very rosy picture of Korea Jeff!  Lessen that by about 50% and it will much more accurate.  Let me answer your questions in list form:

1. There are uni jobs in Korea to be had, but simple demographics (the lowest birthrate in the world) shows that the jobs will be drying up here as well in the next few years.  Also, Chinese is becoming the language to learn these days it seems.  I wonder how long it will be before students have the choice whether to study Chinese or English as their mandatory language class in uni.

2. Most unis here have 15-16 week semesters.  But, a lot of places have mandatory camps or other work during the summer, sometimes paid, sometimes not.  A realistic vacation is 4-6 weeks in summer and the same in winter.  A standard work-week is about 15 hours.

3. Many jobs are posted on ESL Cafe.  But, my guess is that the majority never get advertised and are filled through word of mouth.  It can be tough to break into a uni job, without being in Korea doing another job first.  99% of unis require in-person interviews.  

4.  3 days/week jobs are very rare.  It's usually 4 days/week at unis.  However, most people work 5-6 days/week to make more money. Unis will pay a standard salary of 2-2.5 million/month, with free housing.  Then, you can make more if you work overtime.  The rate is around 30 000 Won/hour.  

Hope that helps!

Friday, May 27, 2011

A little introduction goes a long way

This week in my Top Notch 1 book, we've been talking about appropriate clothes that you'd wear when traveling.  There was an excellent reading about what to wear in Holland, Thailand and Egypt.  It is actual information taken from real guide-books, which I always like.  Real-life stuff.

The only problem was that the reading was a little difficult, probably bordering right on the edge of most student's abilities.  However, doing an introduction of the concepts can help overcome this.

To start, I wrote on the board conservative and liberal.  The students usually didn't know what they meant, so I had them look them up in their cell-phone dictionaries.  I then had a short class discussion about some examples of conservative clothing (long-skirt/ dark suit) and liberal clothing (tight jeans/mini-skirts).  Once they did that, I added some more words under each category that could be found in the reading, such as "modest" "anything goes" "long-sleeved" "open-toed shoes." I then left this on the board for the students to refer to throughout the activity.

Finally, I pointed out the pictures in the reading.  Students usually fail to notice them.  In this case, the pictures introduced 2 vocab points that were central.  A Thai Temple, and an Egyptian Mosque. 

I gave them a few minutes to do the reading, and encouraged them to use their cell-phones to look up words they didn't know.  I wandered around the class answering questions.  At the end, they closed their books and I did a mini-quiz, asking them 10 questions.  Most groups got 80-100%.  Success!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Smart Choice 2 Sample Lesson Plan

One of my readers has requested some sample lesson plans from the "Smart Choice" series.  She teaches the book in her Uni English classes and has been having a hard time making interesting lessons. 

I've been teaching Smart Choice for the past 3 years in one of the extra programs I teach in at my school, so have plenty of experience with making this book work in the real world.  And actually, I really like this book, even more so when I compare it to what else is out there.  In this program that uses this book, it replaced the terrible "Touchstone" series, which was a nightmare to teach. 

So, last week in class, I was given pages 59 (listening) and 61 (enjoying English) in Smart Choice 2.  My classes are 50 minutes long.  This was my lesson plan:

1. I always start each class with a review.  So, I reviewed the vocab on page 56.  I had the students close the books and gave hints such as, "This can happen if I fall off my bike." Answer=you broke your arm or sprained your ankle.  This takes about 5 minutes.

2. Then I reviewed some of the grammar from page 58.  I got the students to give me 3 examples of "I_________while I was______ing________."  And then 3 examples of "While I was _____ing, I __________."  This took about 5 minutes.

3. Then I did the listening on page 59.  After part 1, I got the students to have a conversation with each other, after I got them to ask me the questions by way of example.  Then, I got each group to tell me quickly what they talked about with their partner.  Then, I did part 2.  This took 15 minutes or so. 

4.  Then, I covered page 61.  I gave the students 4 minutes to choose A/B/C/D and think of a story that they could tell the class.  The had to put their pencils down and not write anything, but just speak, instead of reading off their paper.  For under 10 students, we went around the class and everyone listened to their stories.  I would ask a few more questions to each student.  For bigger classes, I put them in groups of 4 or 5 and they told their group.  Then, they picked the best story in their group and they told the whole class.  This took 20-25 minutes. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The 4 Stages of Teaching

In his Kotesol presentation, Ralph Cousins talked about the 4 stages of teaching.

1. Fantasy.  You think you can teach English by playing hangman and just talking to the students all class.

2. Survival.  You have some strategies for teaching, but they are ineffective.  You write on the board too much or use too many videos.  You add up your hours and money and worry about all that stuff.

3. Mastery.  You use effective strategies and engage in professional development.

4. Impact.  Students actually want to learn English because of you.

When I first came to Korea, and started teaching I was clueless and stuck in Stage 1 for the first year or so.  My second year, I progressed into stage 2, as I stopped playing so many games and "filling-time" and got more into the student-based thing.  Like getting them talking and practicing the grammar point in a variety of ways.  And the class not being all about me.  And I did see a lot of improvement in my students, because (or in spite of?!) me.

Finally, it was when I got a job at a university, which entailed much more responsibility that I moved into stage 3.  I started reading and blogging and talking to colleagues about how to teach ESL.  I went to conferences and watched videos and learned the major schools of thought for how to do it.  I started keeping a list of games and activities and things that I could do in class.  I kept track of my lessons and would evaluate how they went and what I could improve on.

And stage 4?  I've seen in some classes when I see the students on a more frequent basis (like 4 days a week, or everyday for 3 weeks in a camp setting) that I have impacted some students on a deeper level.  But, those times are minimal.  However, I don't see myself falling back into stage 2 very often and I never go back to stage 1.  But how to spend more time in stage 4?  That's the challenge I guess.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Task Based Language Teaching

I attended a presentation by Joanne McCuaig on Task-Based Teaching at the recent Kotesol Conference.  I liked the ideas that I heard, which included: photo-essays, advertisements, and a Buy Nothing Day thing.  However, I walked away feeling a bit confused and unclear as to how to actually set it up and go about it.  It's a little overwhelming.  And I wished she had expanded upon it a bit more and given me some of the practicalities, instead of letting us talk amongst ourselves for 25 of the 50 minutes. Like a grading grid, or examples of post-task activities. 

And, in most of my classes, I have this gargantuan book with what feels like 1000 pages to cover in a single semester, so I wonder how spending so much class time on a task would really fit into this.  One day I would like to do a class that is all task-based.  It would be a good challenge and a new direction for me in how I teach ESL.  Maybe one day!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Kotesol Conference Presentation

My first Kotesol presentation is finished and done.  I was somewhat worried about being able to fill the whole 50 minutes, but as it turns out, Motivation and Reward Systems are topics that everyone seems to have an opinion about, so the 20 or so people added in lots of good thoughts and comments to make for an interactive (and hopefully interesting/helpful) presentation.  There was even a wee bit of drama, with an attender that was somewhat hostile and confrontational.  It all happened right before my time was up so it fizzled out before it even really got started.  Anyway, who knew reward systems could be so controversial?

Here is the power point link that you can check out.  Leave a comment with questions or thoughts (particularly if you were at the presentation). 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The super-handout

...of 10 fun ESL games and 10 exciting ESL activities that can be used within your reward system to help increase student motivation.  I've made it in preparation for my upcoming KOTESOL presentation. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Just Wandering: Kotesol National Conference

Just Wandering: Kotesol National Conference: "The schedule is officially out. I'll be presenting at 4:30 next Saturday at the Kotesol Conference in Daejeon. You can come, but don't e..."

Daily Schedule Activity

It seems that in most beginner ESL textbooks (I'm using Top Notch 1 now), that there is a unit on daily schedules, such as "what time do you get up?" or "what do you do in the afternoon?"  A fun (!?) activity that you can do is to have students interview their partner.  You can pre-select questions for lower-level classes or let the students choose their own questions for higher levels.  Make sure you specify a minimum number of questions if you let the students choose their own.   Have the students jot down a few notes as they go.  Then, they have to close their notebooks, and in a group of 4, they have to explain their partner's daily schedule. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Reader Question about What Country to Teach In

These ones from Britton:

"The places we have looked at primarily are: Taiwan, Thailand, and China.   How are the job markets for teaching English in the various countries?  Is there still high demand? Is there anything we should seriously take into consideration concerning any specific countries before we go (neither of us have ever been to Asia)"

Britton is coming with his brother.  He is interested in the experience of living in Asia, while his brother is most interested in saving money and not working horribly long hours.  

I've never taught in these countries before, but I have followed the job boards for a few years now and have talked to lots of people who have taught in these places.  And, I've traveled to these countries during my time here in Korea, so hopefully my thoughts are helpful!

Taiwan: you'll work harder for the money that you make.  Think $15/hour as compared to $30-50 in Korea.  Plus, you'll be responsible for your own housing.  I've heard that the crappy jobs like Hess are plentiful but to get a decent job in a public school or something can be quite hard to do if you're not a qualified teacher without substantial experience.  However, in my brief travels there, I enjoyed it a lot.  The people are friendly and relaxed, the food is excellent and cheap and there is no "winter!"

Thailand: I wouldn't really consider this as a place to teach ESL because the pay is so little.  You're competing with hordes of backpackers willing to work for almost free in exchange for housing. If you want a paid vacation of sorts, then this is the ultimate place to teach ESL for sure.

China: there is a huge demand for teachers.  You should be able to find a decent job there in days.  Salaries have increased greatly over the past few years and you should be able to save a reasonable amount of money working here.  However, while China does have an interesting history/culture, I didn't really enjoy my time there.  The government seems to exert way too much control for my liking.  Facebook censorship, regulations about how much money you can send home, red-tape to do almost anything, questionable human rights.  It's not for me. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Oh technology, I just can't count on you

Today, in one of the extra programs I teach in it's an activity day.  We can play a game, watch a video, go for a walk or whatever we want.  I brought in a Friends DVD and was going to play an episode for the class.  The first classroom has a computer that doesn't work.  Okay, change classrooms with another teacher.  The next classroom won't play my DVD for some reason, even though it worked on the office computer.  The computer science student couldn't get it working either, so it wasn't just my lack of computer or Korean skills. 

Anyway, I'm happy I had Pictionary as a back-up.  I always have a back-up when planning anything like this.  Sometimes, it just seems not worth it to use technology when I have to make a back-up lesson plan in case it doesn't work. 

I feel annoyed.