During my first year in the teaching profession, I worked abroad at a foreign language institute in South Korea. This was a great first teaching job in many ways. The curriculum was rote, and was taught to the teachers within a two week orientation program. Since the classes taught were strictly conversation, no writing or grammar, it was pretty easy to learn the program, and fine tune our ears to pick up on pronunciation errors and difficulties. Once in the classroom, I quickly became comfortable with the “routine” of this curriculum, and started branching out. Level 1’s (the lowest, most basic level of six offered in our institute) were easily my favorite because their raw and often humorous use of English as they traversed the potholes and pitfalls of any language learner. Among the adult learners, there were several that were very interested and eager learners. One was a man who chose as his English name “Jack Daniels”. After I introduced him (upon his request) to the female teacher across the hall, she laughed upon hearing his name, which confused him. “But why, teacher?” he asked me. Well, I had to gently explain, Jack Daniels is a nice name, but it is not a common one for parents to name their children, as it is the name of a type of alcohol.
One of my favorite activities was the weekend “clubs” we held, which were offered free to students and gave them extra time to practice their English in a more natural setting. The clubs varied, but all included the basic elements of exploring a new topic, learning related vocabulary, and then engaging in a topic-related discussion. It was a great way to get to know students because as they answer general questions surrounding the topic, they often tell personal anecdotes or make statements that get them talking about other parts of their lives.
This week I’m sharing a bit about my teaching experience in Korea, and each day also sharing a free resource on TeachersPayTeachers. This second one is a conversation club called “The Carrot, the Egg, and the Tea Bag” which is based around an article discussing our reactions to life’s difficulties, and the ways in which they change us. Click here to download it: