Monday, July 30, 2012

No more Native Speakers in Seoul Middle or High Schools come February

Korea times article here.

My $0.02? I think it's not a bad move.  I'd take a "young Korean teacher...with overseas experience" any day, over a fresh out of uni, completely untrained Native Speaker.  However, perhaps a far better idea is the public schools requiring a Celta for all English teachers, both foreign and Korean.  I think there are very, very few Koreans who could pass, simply because their language skills are not up to speed.   From what I've heard, the "'Teaching English in English certification system of English teachers" is a bit of a joke.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Speaking Activity Ideas

From English Teacher X, here are Speaking Activities that Don't Suck.  It's impressive, and really does contain good stuff that you can use in your classroom.

Job Security for the EFL Teacher

Another fabulous post from one of my favorite English-Teaching-Related Bloggers:  Ted's Tefl Newbie on job security for the EFL Teacher.

He makes some good points, including:

1. You make your own security.  This means that it's quite likely you will have to find a new job every year if you choose to make teaching ESL your profession.  Of course, if you like your school and they like you, you could stay for another year, or two (or 4 more in my recent case...I could have probably stayed another 5 easily if I had chosen to). 

2. You'll need to take care of your own future, which is a good thing.  Look at all those people who depended on Enron or Citibank to look after them.

3. Get your own medical coverage (and I would add, if possible, housing arrangements as well).  Then, you're more free to get out of a bad situation if necessary.  And even Korea, the King of indentured servitude for ESL Teachers has been making things easier if you want to change jobs mid-contract to get out of a crappy situation. 

And although Ted kind of alluded to it, he didn't expand upon the need to create your own job security through professional development.  Here are my suggestions:

1. Join a professional teaching organization, such as Kotesol and make it your goal to get on a committee of some sort, publish an article in their journal or newsletter or do presentations at conferences.  This shows that you're serious about being a good teacher and it gives you something to put on your resume besides the kind of flaky, "I attend Kotesol conferences."

2. Do a course, such as the Celta or an online Masters degree.  An online TESOL course is probably not worth the time or money you'll put into it because employers don't really look that favorably upon it. 

3. Another part of professional development is making contacts and building a network.  That way, if you ever find yourself out of a job, you'll have some people to possibly help you get a new job.  You can do this through Kotesol.  I've also met lots of teachers at Korean unis through this blog.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Teaching: the Small Stuff that Actually Matters

I've just gotten the email....and....I will be presenting at the upcoming Kotesol International Conference 2012 in Seoul.  It will be on Oct. 20/21st, so mark your calendars and buy those KTX tickets!  When I find out my presentation time, I'll let you know.

My topic is: "Teaching: the Small Stuff that Actually Matters."  The idea came about after (over) hearing and (over) seeing lots of my fellow teachers at my uni (there are thin walls and lots of people leave their doors open), watching fellow teachers on my recent Celta course, being in many presentations, as well as reflecting on my own teaching.

Often, it's easy to get caught up on the big stuff: which activities to use, making a syllabus, designing homework, making Powerpoints, and keeping up with the latest ESL research.  While these things are somewhat important, there are plenty of "little things" that are equally, if not more important.  For example:

1. Smiling.  Does anyone like/want to learn from a grouchy teacher?

2. Keeping your cool in all situations.  Yelling at students never, ever gets you the results you want (which is your students actually learning English!)

3. Being punctual.  Be in class before your students are.  Set up before they arrive if possible.   Greet them as they come into the classroom.  Just because your students are late is no excuse for you to be as well.

4. Write an agenda on the board (or PPT).  Show your students that you've thought about the class and are ready to help them learn English.

5. Don't hide behind the book or technology.  Teaching is all about relationships. 

6. In Korea, appearance is everything.  Dress formally (at a uni or public school).  Students expect this, and respond well to it.

Any suggestions?  Things to add? 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Summer Camp Ideas

Thanks to all the readers for their good ideas.  Here are some of theirs and some of my own as well:

1. Paper-Airplane contest.  Distance and/or accuracy.

2. Building a bridge with straws/Popsicle sticks, etc.  The one that can hold a certain amount of weight for the longest time wins.

3. Scavenger Hunt

4. Water Balloon Toss.  You know the one where 2 people face each other and toss balloons back and forth and see who can get the furthest apart?

5. Foursquare competition

6. Egg Drop

7. Building the highest tower possible out of straws in a certain amount of time.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Public Schools Jobs in Korea

According to Gusts of Popular Feeling, Chungcheongbuk-Do (province) is reversing the trend of Gyeonggi, Seoul, and Busan by planning to increase Native Speakers in their schools.  And this chart about where Native Speakers are working in Korea is also quite interesting.  Per student, there are generally more native speakers in the countryside than in the big cities.  At the top of the list are rural provinces Chungnam, Gangwon, and Gyeongbuk.  Towards the bottom are big cities Daegu, Gwangju, Daejeon, and Incheon.  So, what this means is that in the next few years, it will be increasingly difficult to get a public school job in the big city, but if you want to work out in the countryside, it should be no problem.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The cutest student email ever

It's Jackie here.  The TOIEC camp that I recently taught was a bit of a mixed bag.  On the one hand, it was tediously boring and very difficult to make interesting for the students.  Toiec listening games with bags of chips and chocolate bars as prizes seemed to be the only thing that kept us all going at the end.  It's usually my policy to not resort to junk food for motivation, but there was no other way in this case.  But, I did like having something so well-defined and specific to teach which was a nice change from what I usually do.

Anyway,  I told the students to email me their test scores, so I could drink a beer in celebration of their great success in the listening section.   And here is the cutest one so far.  (L/C=listening comprehension: the part I taught, R/C=reading, which the Korean teachers taught). 

Hi~  I'm ******. We met in the Toeic Camp. I'm belong to class :D
How are you?

 After end the camp, I'm helping people in Tax Officer. Because,it is practical exercise.


 I can't believe the day is finally here!
Today, be given a test result in camp!
Before, June
L/C 205+R/C 180=385

After, July
L/C 295+R/C 190=485

L/C score is upgrade!
I appreciate your help ! Thank you!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Reader Question: Weekend/phone interviews

From Nicholas:

"Something that worries me is my capability to be able to attend the interviews mid week. I know that my schools would have a heart attack if I didn't show up for work and there is no way that they would ever give me time to go for interviews. From where I am at the moment it takes me over 2 hours to reach Seoul and then God knows how many extra hours to reach the potential interview destination. Do Universities do weekend interviews? How about skype and phone interviews?"

The answer that I can give you based upon my own recent experience is that you might be out of luck.  Of the 5 interview offers I've gotten during my recent job search, 3 of them gave me a certain time/day that I needed to attend on weekdays.  I turned down one since I was giving exams, and there was no mention of re-scheduling.  1 uni gave me a choice of 2 different times (both weekdays) and the other one said a certain day, which I couldn't attend and re-scheduled for me. 

Basically, all unis want in-person interviews and if you're in Korea, there's almost no excuse that is good enough for why you'd need a Skype or phone interview.  And nobody wants to work on a Saturday or Sunday, so I think you'll have an extremely hard time finding someone who will schedule an interview for those days.  I know your current school might have a heart-attack, but don't you have a sick day or two in the contract?  I hope you haven't used them yet :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

ESL Textbook Reviews

That time of year is coming soon....when we'll all get out schedules and see what classes we're teaching and start choosing books and getting organized.  If you need some ideas for ESL textbooks, here are my reviews of the excellent ones to use and the terrible ones to avoid.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Reader Question: too young for a Uni Job in Korea?

This question from 24 year old Sean:

"You mention that the 30-50 age bracket is the most suitable. As far as your own experience of living and working in Korea is concerned, would you say that this is pretty much standard policy for hiring or more of a rule of thumb? You see, I've applied for at least 15 teaching Uni positions in the last two months. Some of them have required as little as a BA and teaching experience while others have required much more. I have a Bachelor's degree, a Master's degree, a TEFL certificate (maybe not so useful as I thought), and over two years of teaching experience (18 months of which have been in Korea) - yet I have not had one single reply (never mind an interview invitation). Having read your blog, and having spoken to a few Korean friends, I am starting to come to the conclusion that my age is making it nigh impossible for any of my applications to be even considered."

Hi Sean, the biggest question I have for you is why you only applied for 15 jobs.  In my own recent job search for another uni job in Korea, I applied for 17 jobs, and these were only the top uni jobs in Korea that were equal to or better than my current job conditions and in Busan or Seoul.   My thinking was that I'd just stay in my current (most excellent) position if nothing worked out.  I'm wondering if you did the same thing, which may have been your downfall.  Even with my 5 years of Korean uni experience at the same uni, plus Masters/Celta, I only got 5 interview offers.  So, as you can see it's quite competitive and someone like yourself with no Korean Uni experience might not even get a second look. If I was in your position, looking for my first uni job, I  would have applied to 40 or 50 jobs and taken anything I could have gotten.  Even "uni-gwans."  Then, you could have moved up to bigger and better in your second or third year, with a bit of uni experience on your resume.

As far as the age thing goes: yes, you are quite young.  Maybe in your picture you look even younger than you really are?  In Korea, age is everything.  And people even a year older than each other cannot be "friends" but are considered "elder sister" or "younger sister."  If you think about uni students, the boys would have left after their first or second year to do 2 years of military service.  So, if you teach them where they're seniors, they could actually be the same age as you, which can be quite dangerous in terms of them trying to intimidate you, not having respect for you, etc.

Speaking Activities for English as a Second Language Students

It's not easy to get Korean students speaking.  At times, it's almost impossible.  However, help is here!  These are my top ESL activities and games that are guaranteed to get your students speaking.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Tips for Teaching TOIEC Listening Part 3

Toiec listening part 3 consists of a short conversation (played only one time) between a man and a woman and then 3 multiple choice questions, each with 4 possible answers.  The questions/answers are printed in the student's test booklets.  The best tip you can give your students is to read the questions/possible answers first, before listening.  If they don't do this, they'll likely get the question wrong.  Even I found it very difficult when I didn't read first.

In order to do this, students have to be trained to read extremely quickly.  Scanning instead of reading for detail.  I showed my students how to move their eyes down the page instead of across it.  When the instructions are being given for section 2, students need to be reading the questions for conversation 1.  Then, they need to have quickly answered the questions within 1 or 2 seconds of the conversation being finished.  If they don't know the answer, they can just make a quick guess and move on to the next set of questions.  While the questions for the previous section are being read out, students should be reading the questions for the next conversation.  And so on.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Teaching TOIEC Listening Part 2

Some tips:

Toiec Listening Part 2 consists of a question or a statement and then 3 possible responses.  Students have to choose the best response.  It's repeated only once. 

For example:

When did the bus leave?
A. From Seoul
B. At 10pm
C. It will leave tomorrow at 6am

It's actually quite difficult for the students because there is no context.  It's just random sentences being thrown at them.  Sometimes, I even thought it was hard!  Haha.

Anyway, the best tip that you can give your students is to pay attention to what kind of question is it.  There are W/H questions and yes/no questions. If it's a W/H question, usually one of the answers is a variation of yes/no, which is obviously incorrect.  And the opposite applies for the yes/no questions.  If it's a W/H question, it's extremely important to pay attention to the first word and even if you can't catch the rest of the question, it's often possible to get the correct answer or narrow it down so you have a 50% choice, instead of 33%.

Another thing to pay attention to is tenses, especially "did" and "will."  

Using the example above, if you only heard "when," you could listen for some sort of time, which eliminates choice A.  So you'd have a 50% chance by guessing either B or C.  And if you only heard the first 2 words, "When did," you could get the question right since C is future and did refers to the past.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Simpsons...Lesson Plan

This is the lesson that I've made for the last day of Toiec Camp.  It will be "learning" hopefully disguised as "fun." 

Here are the questions that the students have to answer.  The link to the show is at the top, and it conveniently already has Korean subtitles. 

And in case your students have never watched the Simpsons, here is a (basic!) Powerpoint I made with the characters.