Original: Seoul Eats/ Blogger Version

Photoblog: Unesco’s Global Peace Village

Last week, I went to Icheon to teach at an English Camp for a week. It was the first time I ever taught at a camp, but I truly enjoyed teaching at Unesco’s Icheon Global Peace Village.

It is a very impressively modern camp with new facilities. Everything coincided with Unesco’s message of environmentalism and world peace.

Here you can see a student posing over shoes that the students had decorated. All of these shoes will go to Cambodia and they will be given to kids that need them.

The kids also got to take a day trip to the Natural History Museum in Daehangno. Here you can see a student with a wax hand mold.

I taught Panel Art as part of the extra curricular activity. The kids decided to draw panels of Korean food to help the promotion of the food around the world. Here is a student’s idea of what Dukkbokki looks like.

Here is my homeroom class: Team Horse. Our Team’s Motto was: Horses are Fast! Horses are Strong! Horses are Smart! Yippee Ka-yo!


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Original: Seoul Eats/ Blogger Version

Surviving Seoul Part 1: Teaching Tips

Listeners, I’m not sure if you know this, but I haven’t always been an MC in Korea. Like many foreigners that come to Korea, my first job in Korea was working at a hagwon. I came to Korea totally naïve and I just thought to myself, “This is going to be easy; I’ll just think of it as playing with kids.” And like many I thought, “I can speak English, therefore I can teach English.”

Boy was I wrong.

Jennifer gave us many insights into teaching and I want to expound a bit more on teaching in Korea. Let’s start off with some tips.

Tip number 1: You are the teacher in the classroom. You are the boss. You are not a friend. Roles should be distinctly established in the classroom- especially when you are working with younger kids. If you go into a classroom and try to be too friendly or too fun, kids will not take the class seriously. If you are working at a hagwon, your boss has convinced the parents that you will teach their children.

Tip number 2: You need to be aware of the parent’s expectations. Parents expect students to have lots of homework and projects and they expect the teachers to check the homework. The red pen is your friend, the more you use the red pen the more the parents will be convinced that you are a good teacher. My students would always groan when they got their papers back. One of them even said, “Teacher my paper is bleeding. I told them it wasn’t bleeding; instead, it was a sign of my love for them. If the paper wasn’t marked, it would mean that I didn’t care and I didn’t want them to improve.

Tip number 3: Be aware of your student’s expectations. When students start your class they have very high goals that they would like to meet. If the students want to learn grammar, then teach them grammar. If they want to improve speaking, then focus on speaking. Give them many drills and repeat, repeat, repeat.

Tip number 4: Ask lots of questions. It keeps students on their toes and makes sure that they are paying attention.

Tip number 5: Learn your student’s names. It means a lot. Just think about when you were young. How would you feel if your teacher didn’t know your name? There are many memory tricks to do this. You should look at the student’s name and then visualize their face in your mind for 5 seconds. Each time you go through the list, you should try to recall that student’s face.

It might even help to take their picture.

Try to remember their face by a distinguishing characteristic. Maybe one of your students, Ji-young is missing a tooth. You should repeat the name, “Ji-young” and think of her smiling face sans tooth.

If Korean names are too difficult, then give your students English names. Oh, and if you have a student that refuses to adopt an English name, then tell them, “This is English Class and everyone has to have an English name.”

Also, you can write their names down on a cheat sheet and have it on you until you can remember all of your student’s names.

Tip number 6: Learn grammar. Seriously, it’s no joke. If you want to lose your credibility as a teacher then not knowing your grammar is the fastest way to do so. Many students here study grammar because it is more logical than idiomatic expressions and vocabulary. It won’t take you long to brush up on it. The book that most students have grown up on is Murphy’s English Grammar in Use. Read through the book, do the exercises and learn your grammar. Another really fun grammar book is: Grammatically Correct by Anne Stilman. I also like the Little English Handbook by Edward Corbett and Sheryl Finkle. There are also many podcasts that you can download and listen to.

Now if someone gives you a grammar question that you can’t explain then tell them: “it’s an exception.” Or: “It’s grammatically correct but it’s not very colloquial.”

One more note about grammar: There are different grammar rules for British and American English. Be aware of them.

OK. Well there are some tips for you to start. Let’s take a break and when we come back, I’ll have more tips for you.


Surviving Seoul Part 2: Teaching Activities

So I just went over some tips on how you can be a better teacher. I’ll give you some more tips in the future. The tips I’ve given you so far have been: Be the teacher in the classroom, not a playmate; be aware of student’s and parent’s expectations; Ask your students questions; learn your student’s names; and learn your grammar.

Now I wanted to get into some fun activities that I’ve found have worked for students. These first activities are geared for 3rd to 5th grade students. One thing in my repertoire is my fuzzy dice. You can find these at many school supply stores. My fuzzy dice are square, 8cm by 8cm and filled with soft foam. The die is marked with numbers and it is very light. This die was the best thing ever because it is so versatile. When ever, I would ask a question, I would toss the die to a student. The student would then answer and then he can toss it to another student. The student would then have to ask a question and the student who received the die would have to answer. I know it sounds so simple and yet, all my students were always really excited about this game. You can even make the game like hot potato or like dodgeball.

You can also play a quiz game using questions from your book or from popular media. I would make a jeopardy board on the blackboard of about 25 questions. Give each square a point. I used to make quiz questions about Harry Potter, Spongebob Squarepants, things from the day’s lessons, grammar, books, anything at all. I would make two teams and then have them try to answer the questions and give each team points if they get it right and subtract it if they get them wrong.

Oh, a great website for trivia questions on books is www.funtrivia.com You can find quizzes on books, cartoons, history, etc. It’s great.

Another fun thing I used to do was what I called word relays. I would divide up a class into teams of five and then have them line up in a row. I would write down letters from A-M on a sheet of paper for each team and then the first person in the line would have to write down a word using one of the first letters on the sheet of paper. Then they would pass it to the next person and then the next. After all the letters would be filled the winning team would bring me their word list to be checked. I would circle words that were misspelled and I would give extra points for words over 4 words.

And one last game. Instead of playing hangman, which I find a bit morbid. I would do different variations such as parachute man. With parachute man, you draw a stick figure with a parachute with 8 or 10 strings. Beneath the man, you draw a huge shark with razor sharp teeth waiting to eat the parachute man. Each time a student gives the wrong letter, erase a string.

Ok. Now onto adults.

Teaching adults is a very different beast then with kids. One thing that I have learned is that you shouldn’t go out drinking with your students. It tends to blur the relationship of teacher and student. Here are some things that I’ve found work with adult students.

You should first go by the book. Older students grew up in culture that focuses on the textbook. You shouldn’t skip portions of a book just because you think it is boring. If you don’t use the book that a student has bought, then the student will think that the teacher is not prepared. They might also think that they wasted their money.

Koreans don’t like to waste money.

Plus, when a student finishes a book there is usually a small party. And they’ll feel a sense of accomplishment.

Another thing that I found works well with adult students is for you to write down what they say or take notes. This shows the student that the teacher is paying special attention. Korea is all about extra service. So, if a student feels that a teacher is working hard then they will try hard as well. With adult students, I’ve found it easy to actually type out what they are saying and then e-mail them. I’m not saying everything, just major details.

Give adult students homework. Most of them like it.

Also, correct their spoken mistakes.

If you are teaching business English, I find it best to seek out newspapers and other current information to discuss. The BBC has a great section on learning English. Also, I found a great book on business English called Intelligent Business by Tonya Trappe and Graham Tullis. I also like the Voice of America series that have been put out. The VOA book is in English and in Korean, plus it is in dialogue format, so the student can practice their speaking and reading.

And if you are having problems keeping a conversation going, it’s good to work on phonics and accent training. It’s a fun activity and many students want to learn this.

Ok. I think that’s it for teaching tips. If anyone has other suggestions, you know how to contact us. You can call us at 778-1013 or message us at Pound or Sharp 1013.

Original: Seoul Eats/ Blogger Version

Funny Anecdote: Pen-tea

In my writing class the students were supposed to brainstorm about disturbing trends in Korea and I said that Black Bean Tea was a disturbing trend. Then I went on to expound on the ghastliness of corn tea (it tastes like soggy popcorn!) and that this will lead Korea to make teas from everything: from flower teas, bundaeggi tea, water tea, book-tea, and even pen-tea. The last one was a mistake. My class exploded with laughter and I was left red faced.



MacGyvering a Lesson

Here’s an article that I wrote for a magazine.

MacGyvering a Lesson

It’s Sunday night. You are staring up at the ceiling realizing that tomorrow you are going to be the shepherd of howling hooligans yelling “Teacher GAME!” and it fills you with dread. These days Simon says, “Jaemi-oppso,” the students have already stolen all the monopoly money, and you’ve lynched the entire populous of stick figures.
You think back to your first day of hagwon hell, after you just flew into the country, and felt the shock of being in the sweltering, cramp armpit of Korea. It was an exciting time, remember? Then, jet-lagged and not even unpacked, your kind director took you into a classroom and said, “Teach” as if he was animating clay to life.
You got through the first couple months on charm, wit, and the games you used to play as a kid, but now…; you are out of ideas and numb from the screams and cries of kids suffering from EAS (English Advesion Syndrome…yes, it’s a real term). You simply dread the sunrise and you start packing your bags and plan, THE RUN.
But wait. I can help you out and get your through another month or six. I used to teach at the public education school level and these are the games I used to play. Public School teaching is a whole new world. Imagine 40 kids in a class. About 3 in each class are brilliant showoffs and want to capitalize on your time, 7 kids are above average speakers, 15 are moderately good at English, and the final 10…well they A) hate English, B) hate you, C) suffer from ADD, D) are ashamed because they can’t afford to go to hagwons like other students. And in some of my classes I would have some mentally handicapped children.
These are games that I played with my large classrooms from the 3-6th grade levels. I’ve modified some of them and they will even work at the middle school level. All you need is a plush ball. This has to be light in weight and it can’t have any hard plasticky things like eyes, noses or anything else. My favorite was a foam cube about 5cm by 5cm by 5cm. Now this cube was the most important thing in my repertoire. Kids love catching the cube and throwing it. It injects energy into the class. Also when you have it, all eyes are on you. When they pass it to another student, than all eyes are on them. It’s a great way to get them to participate. And watch out for open windows!

Game #1 Questions
Ask a question and pass to someone. Simple right? Amazing how asking about the weather, their favorite food, animals, anything becomes fun again as you throw a ball at them. The student has to ask the next student a question and they have to answer. 5 minutes.
Game #2 Spelling Bee
Make two teams and throw the ball to one kid and ask them to spell the word. If they get it correct then he passes the ball to the other side. If they misspell it, then the kid must sit. If someone else tries to help them spell the word then they have a penalty of a harder word that they must spell. 5 minutes.
Game #3 Hot Potato
Have the students sit in circle and have take out their reading books. You need to have a radio or something of the sort. Have one of the students be your helper. The student’s job is to turn off the radio when he feels like it. Each student in the circle has to read the next word (or sentence) in the story then they pass the ball to the next person. They must say it correctly, if they don’t then correct them before they can pass. When the music stops, the person holding the ball is out. 10 minutes.
Game #4 Dodge-ball
Say a word such as “Apple” and students must take the last letter “E” and make a new word and throw it. If the other student catches it then the game continues on. If it hits the other student, but they drop it, then that student is out. 10 minutes.
Game #5 Diamond Hunter
You need a blindfold for this one. Have one of your students hide the diamond (the ball) somewhere and then have one student be the navigator and give directions to the blindfolded student to find the ball. It’s really funny when the last time you have the ball in your hand and you walk around the room. The class laughs because they know what’s going on. 10 minutes.
Game #6 Quiz Game
I recommend the cube die for this one. Make a list of questions from Naruto, Harry Potter, Spongebob, America, etc (trust me they know a lot of trivial). Pick a mix of easy and hard questions like, “What is the spell to make light in Harry Potter? A: Lumos” Divide the class into 3 teams and make a Jeopardy style game grid on the board. Have 1 kid be the game host- his job is to read the question. Another child should keep score on the board. Then have the students answer the questions in a “What is” format. Now this is important. If they get the answer correct get them to roll the die. They will get points based on what they roll. It’s a great equalizer when you have some kids that are smarter than others. 20 minutes.

There are endless possibilities of games you can do. Just make sure that there is an element of competition and it should be fast paced. Keep the energy up and I promise that you’ll build up a repertoire of games that’ll keep you afloat until you receive that big year end bonus.

by Daniel Gray

Daniel Gray is a writing teacher at Ian English in Cheongdam. He has taught in Korea for 3 years, at varying levels including a 2 year stint at the public elementary school level at Wonmyeong Elementary School in Gangnam. He loves red wine, playing with his Wii, and writing.