Friday, January 25, 2013

Movie Review Lesson Plan

From Sara Davila on Educating Her World.  A writing focused lesson plan, using an authentic text.  Seems like good stuff!

Free: 40 Tried and Tested ESL Games and Activities

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Reader Question: French Teaching Position in Korea

"I discovered your blog doing some research to find a job in Korea. I'm actually looking for a FRENCH teaching position in a Korean university. There are not many resources (to say the least) about French teaching in Korea. I know there's certainly less jobs than in ESL.  Any idea where to look, what to begin with? Recruiters? Or contacting universities directly?"

My answer:

Yes, you certainly are correct in saying that there are less jobs in French teaching than in ESL in Korea.  Over my 8 years in Korea, I've met thousands of English teachers, but precisely 3 French teachers.  Native speaking Japanese and Chinese teachers are much more common even.  So, it certainly is possible but probably very difficult, if not almost impossible to get a position.  And, I truly don't have any fabulous ideas about where to look for these jobs.  Maybe contacting the French departments at universities in Korea directly?  Perhaps the readers of this blog could give some tips.

A Perfect Storm of Goodness

In my recent presentation and public speaking class, I got the highest evaluation score that I've ever received in a class: 98%.  It was my first time teaching this type of class, so the potential was definitely there for it to be not as fabulous as it could have been. However, there was a perfect storm of motivated, friendly students, interesting content that the students had never studied before, a teacher excited to teach something besides beginner conversation, and a most fabulous book (thanks Kotesol Facebook site for the rec's).  Speaking of Speech by David Harrington.  I really, truly cannot say enough good things about it.  Go get it.  And, also check out Presentation Expressions which is something I most definitely wish I'd found before teaching this class.


The Internet is your Oyster

This is an article that I've written for an upcoming Kotesol article.  Enjoy your preview :)
I know that many teachers come to Korea just for a year but that that year somehow turns into two, then three, and four, and eventually you find yourself with a spouse, children, a car, pets and more things that you could ever hope to stuff into those two suitcases that you brought here.  In those first and second years, I would venture a guess that most of us were probably harmless, but ineffective teachers.  I know that I most certainly was.  However as time goes by, teaching becomes more than just how we make money, and most of us genuinely want to improve our teaching skills so that we can help our students actually learn and improve their skills for wherever life will take them.  

One of the best ways that I’ve found to improve my teaching is by taking advantage of the resources available on the Internet.  In this case, the ESL Internet world truly is your oyster, and you really should be grabbing the opportunities given to you.  These days, the Internet serves as the great equalizer, giving a chance for all teachers in Korea to make an impact.  I will give three (easy!) examples of how you can do it.

 Reinventing the Wheel

One of my favorite time-saving tricks for the busy teacher is not reinventing the wheel.  For example, if I’m teaching a lesson on superlatives/comparatives, I’ll search on Google for “superlative comparative ESL.”  As you’re typing, you’ll see, “games, activities, worksheets” pop up.  Just click on whatever you’re looking for and you’ll be directed to a wealth of resources for that particular lesson, usually for free.  I can often find a fabulous worksheet, activity idea, game, or even complete lesson plans in less than five minutes.  And I’ve found numerous new things to help me keep my classes interesting and engaging, which is often a little hard to do year after year.      

 Professional Development

In terms of professional development, I use the Internet almost exclusively (with a little bit of Kotesol too!)  I love listening to Podcasts while I’m on the subway or exercising and some of my favorite ones that are relevant to English teachers are: ESL etc, Edgycation, ESL Teacher Talk, Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips, and Public Speaker’s Quick and Dirty Tips.  Just search on Itunes.

I also try to read at least one or two ESL teaching theory related things once a week.  Some of the sites I like are: Heads up English, An Introduction to Task-Based Teaching by David Nunan, and Learning for Life.  Take the ideas that you read about and incorporate them into your teaching, talk to your colleagues about them, or better yet, blog about them.

Speaking of blogging, five long years ago I started a blog about teaching, mostly as a way to force myself to think more deeply about what I was doing in the classroom instead of just drifting along from semester to semester as it easy to sometimes do (My Life: Teaching in a Korean University  It has served that purpose but it’s done a lot more as well.  I’ve been inspired to present some of the ideas that I’ve developed on the blog at Kotesol conferences.  I’ve made lots of interesting contacts throughout the ESL world, even some of the more famous people (mostly through my textbook reviews).  I’ve been able to help lots of people by answering their questions that they send me.  I’ve compiled a resource for myself (and hopefully others) of lesson plans, games and activity ideas.  I use the search bar on my blog a lot to find a certain game, or Internet site, or book that I know I’ve blogged about but can’t quite remember what it is.  And finally, I’m pretty sure that I’ve become a better teacher though doing it.  A little self-reflection on the good and the bad is a practice that is useful for anyone in a classroom.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Reader Question from Andrew

"I am a 28 year-old Irish guy with an Honours Bachelors, Masters (History) and Postgraduate Diploma in Education - I am a qualified high school teacher in my native country. I have one year of high school teaching experience here in Ireland, along with eighteen months full-time ESL teaching as part of the EPIK programme in Korea.

I am interested in going back to Korea to teach at university level but I don't know the best way about applying for such a position, or even which specific university positions might be desirable.  What kind of job and salary do you think I could realistically expect to get? And what working hours and vacation time would be entailed in such a position?"
My answer:
You have a few things going against you.  Namely, no university experience as well as not physically being in the country for interviews (I think...but not sure about this based on your email).  Most unis want at least 2 years uni experience (but refer to my previous post) and in-person interviews.  The other problem I can forsee is what exactly is a "Postgraduate Diploma?"  If it's equivalent to a Masters Degree, then you're golden, if not, you'll have an even harder time finding a uni job.  
You may luck out and find someone who will take you, without a Masters, without any uni experience and without being in country.  But, it seems kind of unlikely to me.  Your best bet would be to get yourself to Korea somehow and be available for interviews here.  And then, just take what you can get.  I'm not sure anyone looking for their first uni job in Korea can really afford to be picky for the first year or two.  

If you do find a uni job, you could expect between 2-2.5/ month (plus housing included or around 300/month housing allowance).  Hours are between 12-20/week and vacation is anywhere from 2 months-5 months.  It just depends on the package offered and it varies so widely that it's hard to make an generalizations. 

Reader Question...2 years experience

These questions from Kelsey:

"I have a BA from the States and an MA from England.  I'm currently employed at a hagwon.  However, I'm doing some research about options for when I have completed my contract. Because I already have an MA, some people have suggested that I look into university teaching.  When I look around Dave's ESL Cafe Korean Job Boards (which I have done every month or so for the past few months), it seems like all of the jobs list 2 years of university teaching as a minimum requirement.  My question is this: how can someone enter the university field in order to earn that two year achievement that is so desirable?"

My advice:

Keep looking.  Although jobs ads list this as a minimum requirement, it is indeed possible to get jobs (especially at the last minute) with only a Masters and no uni experience.   Of course unis can dream and list their ideal, but it doesn't always translate into who they actually hire, especially at the bottom-tier kind of places.  I even have friends without masters degrees who've gotten uni jobs recently.  Just apply to every single uni job ad you see and hope for the best.  

Monday, January 14, 2013

Student Evaluations

At my new uni, renewals are based almost exclusively on student evaluations.  This system really isn't ideal, because it's often the case that high evaluations don't exactly equal large amounts of learning.  For example, giving no homework, always finishing class early and grading easily will get you high evaluations but not necessarily be good for the students.  Anyway, I'm happy to report that I'm on the right side of 50%.  The bottom 50% of teachers, averaged out over the previous 4 semesters get cut, and the top 50% get renewed.  Nice!  One down, and 3 more to go.

My evaluations are very similar to those at my old uni.  I guess my system works wherever I am.

A Fabulous Writing Textbook

Hello readers, sorry I've been MIA recently.  No excuses really, but just busy and haven't had a lot of inspiration.  I've been teaching at my school's English camp for the past 3 weeks and my subject is "writing." I've been using an excellent textbook called Great Paragraphs and so far, it's fabulous.  Lots of example paragraphs, grammar and vocab building exercises and a nice framework for teaching the process of writing.  My level is low-intermediate and I find that book 2 works well for this.  This is a 5-part series, so it would work for just about any level beyond basic beginners.

It rivals in fabulousness toReady to Write 2: Perfecting Paragraphs (4th Edition) and you actually couldn't go wrong with either of them.