Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Some oldies but goodies

oldie but goodie
Oldies but Goodies From My Life! Teaching in a Korean University

I went back in the archives for you, my readers and pulled out some of the best posts from way back in the day when I started this blog. Can you believe it's been 7 years and that the same stuff that I was thinking about back then is still what I'm thinking about today?

Student Evaluations

Physical Activity in the Classroom

The First Day of Class (still haven't really figured this one out yet!)

Speaking Tests (am still changing this one almost every semester!)

Social Interactions with your Bosses and Co-workers

A Group Project Speaking Idea


Monday, March 30, 2015

ESL Speaking Activities, Games and more

ESL Speaking

If you're on the lookout for some new English speaking games and activities to make your classes interesting and engaging, some help is here. First of all, check out one of my other websites: ESL Speaking: Games, Activities, and Resources.

Next, don't forget to sign-up for my mailing list. You'll get 40 ESL games and activities delivered straight to your inbox, along with lots of other stuff that I think will be helpful for you.

40 Free ESL Speaking Games and Activities

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Next, go to ESL Warm-up Games and Activities. There's lots of goodness here that you can use to help get your classes started off the right way.

Finally, check out Speaking Activities That Don't Suck: Foolproof Ways to Force Your EFL Students to Produce Enormous Amounts of English from English Teacher X. Speaking activities, presented in an extremely funny, witty way.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Reader Question: is the Delta Worth it?

Cambridge Delta
Is the Delta Worth it?

"I came across your article on doing the Delta on Profs Abroad when doing a Google search for TESOL jobs in Europe with a DELTA. I've been thinking of what to do post Korea, and the DELTA seems to be the best move. Was your DELTA experience successful in improving your teaching skill and providing more job opportunities?"

My answer:

Take my advice for what it is because I've only taught ESL in Korea and can't really answer the question as to whether or not the DELTA will help you get a job in Europe. But, I can say that the CELTA and DELTA are far more recognizable just about anywhere in the world than they are in East Asia (Korea, Taiwan, China and Japan), so the DELTA could potentially open up a few doors for you. It has not helped me get a job in Korea so far, but I have not "shopped it around" yet (and likely never will since I'm moving back to Canada in about a year).

As for the teaching skill thing: yes, the DELTA did help me improve my teaching skills significantly, especially Module 1. It was the first time in my entire teaching and learning career where I actually had to put the time in to get an extremely firm grasp on English grammar since there was a quite difficult test I had to write. The CELTA did cover a bit of grammar but there was never a test so I didn't have a lot of motivation to really truly know it.

I find when teaching that I'm a lot more confident in explaining difficult concepts to my students and am able to answer questions much more effectively. Like even though my students are third and fourth year English majors, I can answer pretty much any grammar question they have, usually off the top of my head. Before the DELTA, this wasn't so much the case and I'd often have to say, "I'll tell you next class!" I'm also able to do things like give more effective feedback to students when evaluating their writing because I have a big-picture framework in my head.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Teaching: it's a serious thing

teaching ESL
Teaching: It's a Serious Thing

A short one today. Maybe I'm gotten a wee case of the emotionals since it's now down to my second last semester teaching at a Korean university, but I couldn't help feeling like it was a huge responsibility. Almost all my students are the hardest working, most earnest, dedicated students I could ever hope for because they see English as vital for their future success and as I sat in class, thinking, I felt this weight on my shoulders. Like these students are really depending on me to do my best to help give them the skills they need for their futures. Hopefully, they get what I'm giving and my class is a valuable thing to them. It's a serious thing.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

University Job in Korea with only a BA

uni job Korea
University Jobs Korea with a Masters Degree

A reader question from Jennifer:

"I am currently looking for uni jobs that do not require a masters.  Do you know of any groups on Facebook I could get notifications? Thank you so much!"

My answer:

If you haven't already read my book, check out How to Get a University Job in South Korea: The English Teaching Job of Your Dreamsfor advice on what to do if you don't have a masters degree but want to work at a uni. It's going to be tough, but not impossible especially if you're working on a masters or are willing to work at a "unigwon."

But, to answer your question. I don't think there are any Facebook groups, or any other kind of site for that matter which is dedicated solely to uni jobs in Korea for those without masters degrees. You could join my Facebook group, Foreign Teachers in Korean Universities where jobs occasionally get posted. I'm sure you look there already, but check out Dave's ESL Cafe Korean job board. You'll have to wade through lots of junk but there are a few nuggets of gold. Finally, I recommend Profs Abroad. It is a paid site, but you'll be able to get access to all the uni jobs in Korea, even the hard to find ones on school websites very easily in one place.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Job Security in South Korean Universities

job security
Job Security in South Korean Universities?

 A reader question:

"I recently bought and read your book, How to Get a University Job in South Korea. I really enjoyed it and found that it answered many of the questions I’d had about applying for university work in South Korea. While reading the book, I was hoping that you might touch on the topic of tenure for university jobs. I’m currently teaching at a Japanese university and have found that - for foreigners - securing a tenured position is extremely difficult if not impossible in most institutions here. Working in South Korea, have you found that most employment is rotational, contract based with limitations on renewal? Are there stable, tenured positions with upward mobility? If you have the time, I’d really appreciate your feedback on these questions. Thank you for your time and I look forward to your response."

Thanks for checking out How to Get a University Job in South Korea and also sending me your excellent question. I didn't include this topic in the book simply because there are no positions teaching English in South Korean universities for foreigners that are tenure-track, and upward mobility is extremely limited in almost all cases. Most universities offer one year contracts (a limited number 2 years) and your renewal depends on the whims of the powers that be and until you've been at a place for a few years, you really should have some back-up plans come contract renewal time.

The exception to this would be if you have a PhD in a field other than TESOL, but you'd still have a hard time getting tenure and moving up the ranks if you don't speak Korean. It's all about relationships here and greasing the right wheels and lack of language skills would limit you significantly. Competition even for adjunct professor positions is fierce here, as it is in the west.

It sounds to me like the situation regarding tenure in Japan is basically the same as in Korea, so I wouldn't recommend making a move based on that alone.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Paying Off Debt, Saving Money and Investing in the Stock Market while teaching ESL

the wealthy english teacher jackie bolen
The Wealthy English Teacher

Over on Amazon in the reviews and in the feedback I've gotten in person and through my email, people seem to like The Wealthy English Teacher: Teach, Travel, and Secure Your Financial Futureso far.

If you're a bit (or totally) clueless about money and you're teaching ESL, or even just thinking about it, then this is the book for you. It's written with the total beginner in mind and I do my best to use simple language, as well as recommend the best resources on the Internet that you can check out. You can also see some samples from the book on The Wealthy English Teacher in case you're the type who likes to try before you buy.

Many people don't know this, but it's possible to get the digital version on Amazon even if you don't have a Kindle. Just go to the page where you can buy the book and you'll see the "Free Kindle Reading App" link which can be downloaded to any Mac, PC, Smartphone or Tablet.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

ESL Speaking: Activities, Games and Resources

2 pieces of  news for you, my readers. The first is: ESL Speaking. If you teach a conversation, discussion or 4-skills English class, this is the site for you. It has games, activities and resources all designed to help you plan your speaking classes. Plus, I think the design is wicked cool, if I do say so myself (it's my site! Ha!).

The second thing is that if you want to get 40 of my favorite ESL games and activities, you should sign up and get it delivered straight to your inbox. I promise only goodness for you and none of the badness that is spam.

40 ESL Games and Activities-Classroom Tested and Approved

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Teaching Content Classes instead of Conversation at Korean Universities

Teaching Journalism at a Korean University

A reader question:

"I have several graduate degrees (Master's degrees in Journalism, Counseling Psychology and a PhD in Health Education and Promotion.) My first passion is teaching journalism. Do you think it's possible I could teach any of these courses at the university level or do you think my only option is ESL?"

My answer:

You are certainly well-qualified to teach something besides ESL at a Korean Uni and I'm sure you would do a fabulous job of it. However, the big problem will be finding this job because they are extremely rare and the people that have jobs teaching something besides ESL generally hold onto them for year, after year, after year. And once they do decide to let it go, it's often filled from the "inside," that is someone already working at that uni or a friend of a friend of some kind. These kind of jobs are almost never advertised, from my perusing of places like ESL Cafe.

(Join the Facebook group: Foreign Teachers in Korean Universities)

In addition, you are in Canada now and most of the places that are offering these kinds of jobs will probably want an in-person interview, although you might luck out and get a Skype interview. That said, check out The Chronicle of Higher Education and see what you can find. You might just find yourself at the right place at the right time. Another strategy would be to come to Korea and take any university job that you can get, network with all the right people during that year and make a move up in the world a year or two later.

For fabulously helpful lesson plan ideas, advice about getting a university job in Korea or managing your money while living abroad, sign-up for the monthly newsletter. Only goodness guaranteed!

Free: 40 ESL Games and Activities, Tried and Tested

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Monday, March 16, 2015

How Old is too Old to Teach at a Korean University?

A reader question:

"I am 54 going on 55 in June. Is it still possible to teach at the University level in South Korea given my age? Based on what you've written the answer is: No."

She has read my book, How to Get a University Job in South Korea: The English Teaching Job of Your Dreamsand that is what she is referring to.  While I do talk about the ideal age to teach English at a Korean university in my book (between 30 and 50), I'll expand a bit upon it here.

In Korea, ageism is alive and well. It is not that uncommon to hear of people being forced out of their jobs as early as 50 and certainly by 60, which is generally considered the mandatory retirement age. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that after the Korean war, life expectancies were very low and it was uncommon for people to live into their 70's or 80's. These days, Koreans are living longer and longer but the retirement age has not risen along with it, unlike in most Western countries.

For foreigners teaching at Korean universities, it is a similar situation and it would be quite difficult for someone to hang on past the age of 60. You might not officially be let go but at some point you'll contract just won't be renewed. That is if you could even get a job.  If you had started somewhere in your late 40's or early 50's, shown yourself to be a well-liked and reliable teacher, and established a solid relationship, you'd probably be fine. But, I'm not sure a lot of places would be willing to give someone your age a chance who is not in Korea and has no experience teaching here. The job market is extremely competitive these days and that is a big strike against you.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Question: How to get a university job and how to have fun in Korea

uni job teaching english korea
University Job in South Korea

Free: 40 Classroom Tried and Tested ESL Games and Activities

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This is a question from a member of my Facebook group, Foreign Teachers in Korean Universities, which you should join if you teach at a Korean uni, or want to at some point in the future.

"Will someone please advise me on the best ways to get a job teaching at a university in Korea and the best ways to have fun with expats once there? Besides teaching I love writing, movies, books, board games, biking, hiking and camping."

As for the first part about how to get a job teaching at a university in Korea, you should check out How to Get a University Job in South Korea: The English Teaching Job of Your Dreams. Almost all of the feedback on it has been extremely positive and I think you'll pick up at least a few useful tips (and probably a lot more!).  The book's website, universityjobkorea.com has some excerpts from the book as well as some of my guest posts on other sites if you want to try before you buy.

As for the second question about having fun in Korea: you'll find it far easier to meet people and make friends than you would back home. People are always coming and going so people are pretty open to newbies.  If you live in a big city like Seoul, Busan, Gwangju, Daegu or Daejeon, there will be a multitude of expat groups on Facebook for just about any hobby or interest that you could possibly imagine. I would caution against living in the countryside if you are coming to Korea alone and like to have an active social life since it can be extremely isolating and lonely to be the only foreigner in the vicinity.  

Friday, March 13, 2015

Top 5 Books for Beginner English Teachers

beginner teacher

If you're looking to bone up on your knowledge about teaching English before you head abroad, check out my top 5 books for the ESL teacher just getting started. Of course, it's better to take a course like the Celta, but reading a few books is obviously better than nothing.

How To Teach Englishby Jeremy Harmer

How to Teach English by Jeremy Harmer is a classic and should be the first book you read on the topic. It's extremely well-organized into short sections, assumes that you know nothing and also gives some very practical advice and some activities to help get up and running for your first few weeks in the classroom.

While more theoretical than the Harmer book, this one can provide you with a solid foundation of the  major approaches for language teaching.  It's perfect for the ESL teacher who is already confident in the classroom, but needs some knowledge about the specifics of teaching English as a Second Language

Speaking Activities that Don't Suck by English Teacher X is an excellent speaking games and activities resources for the beginner teacher before they walk into the classroom with nothing. When I was just starting out, I always tried to have a few speaking activities in my folder or in my head that I could pull out if required. This book will help you with that in an interesting, engaging kind of way.

If you're clueless about English grammar like most native English speakers, this book will be your new best friend. Before you walk into a classroom, it's wise to have a basic idea of what you're doing and this book will teach you, but in the least boring way I've ever seen.

How To Teach Speakingby Scott Thornbury

Most newbie teachers will primarily end up teaching speaking and conversation so "How to Teach Speaking" by Scott Thornbury will give you a leg up on the competition. It does a great job of covering the theory, but also gives a wealth of practical advice and information that you can use in the classroom.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Four Skills Books for General English Classes

It's all about my favorite ESL Textbooks for general, 4-skills English classes. I'm only reviewing books that I've used in my own classes (of course!). For even more of my ESL textbook reviews, check out another site of mine, ESL Textbook Reviews.

The Four Corners Series

If I had only one choice for a 4-skills EFL textbook, this would be it. There are no "throw-away" chapters like in so many of the other books and the activities are interesting and engaging. It's so well designed actually that it's almost impossible for students not to participate. It's communication centered and focuses heavily on speaking, although it does hit the other three skills. Trust me, you won't be disappointed if you choose this book.

The Touchstone Series

I used the Touchstone series a number of years ago and remember hating it: text-heavy pages that were just overwhelming for me, and even more so for the students. However, I'm using it for my conversation classes these days (I had no choice!), but I have to say that they've made the second edition significantly better. There are some solid listening and reading activities, as well as some communicative "free-talking" activities at the back. By book 4, it's serious English so if you have quite high level students, check it out.

The World Link Series

I used this book for about 3 years at my old university and while I was a bit burnt out on it near the end, it really is a solid book. The units are interesting and engaging and are on the simpler side if you have lower-level, or multi-level classes. There just isn't that much text on the page, which is something I appreciate in an ESL textbook. The supplementary teacher's activity book was excellent and I used almost every single activity in it, so make sure you get that as well.
World Link: Teacher's Resource Text Bk. 1

The Smart Choice Series

I used the Smart Choice series a few years ago at my old university for a supplementary program and really enjoyed teaching it. It's grammar, but in a very simple, easy to understand way. It made teaching easy and very minimal prep was required because the book was good enough to just teach straight from it. The students usually seemed to enjoy the topics and it was easy enough to build natural conversations from it.

The Interchange Series

Interchange is one of the most popular 4-skills English as a second language textbooks and for good reason: it's solid. Jack Richards is one of the best ESL textbook writers out there and anything with his name on it is sure to be a good choice. If I was an admin of a program of some kind, I'd look closely at this book.

Where to teach English: China

teach English China
Teaching ESL in China
We continue on with the series on ESL teaching destinations around the world. I've previously talked about plenty of other places, but to name just a few:

Teaching English as a foreign language in Peru
Teaching ESL in Hong Kong
Teaching English as a Second Language in Malaysia

Today, it's all about teaching English in China- what follows is an excerpt from the book, The Wealthy English Teacher: Teach, Travel, and Secure Your Financial Future, where I rank China as an "okay" destination because while it does have plenty of good things going for it, there are some significant negatives as well.

China is very similar to Vietnam in that it is an up and coming country with a growing economy and rising salaries for ESL teachers but has a very low cost of living, especially outside Beijing and Shanghai. It also has the huge advantage of having an in-demand language that could benefit you greatly in your future career if you use your time there to become fluent. China is not in the top-rated group for a few reasons including: while salaries for the private institute jobs are reasonably high (but you will have to work hard for it--around 30 teaching hours/week), they are very low for university jobs, and it is quite difficult to find a quality job in China simply because it is such a big place and there is not that much information.

Perhaps the biggest drawbacks and the main reasons why I would not go there are the pollution and lack of safety standards for things like food, manufactured items and infrastructure, police unwillingness to get involved in any disputes involving a foreigner, difficulty in getting money out of the country, a very poor quality of health care as well as lack of freedom as it relates to the Internet. I depend on things like Facebook to keep me connected with my friends and family around the world and do not want to have to deal with trying to get around this with proxy servers and other such annoying things.