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Thursday, 14 April 2016

Teaching in Korea: Frustrations with Students

One of the things that I like about teaching at a private English academy in South Korea is that the students are, for the most part, good.

They are nice, they do their homework, and they understand the importance of learning English.

(However, since the students go to multiple academies (math, piano, Korean, etc.), and therefore have so little free time, and so much homework, most of them would bump me off of the list in a second if they had a vote--which they don't . . . it's all up to the moms.  One 4th grade girl told me in class that she didn't want to study English that day--it was a day off from work and school for voting--and I understood entirely.)

One frustration that teachers at my academy have--and is likely shared by many other teachers in Korea--is students' failure listen to instructions:

I will say something like, "With your partner, read page 22 two times."

Immediately there are the questions:

"Teacher, page 22?

"Teacher, read 2 times?"

A long time ago, I learned to write the assignment on the whiteboard:

     NB LG SB 22 R2X (translated: Notebook Let's Go Student Book page 22 Read page 22  two times).

Students know this code because teachers use it every class for writing homework.

But it doesn't really make a difference.

"Teacher. Let's Go book?"  "Read 2 times?"

I can say, "Look at the whiteboard please," yet I will invariably get the same questions.

Sometimes I respond, "John, please tell Mary what to do." (Many students have English names.)

Understandably, these are non-native speakers working with English-language directions.

(I wish that I could understand Korean directions.)

Yet there seems to be a habit-formed response, as one of my Korean co-teachers told me, that may be derived from the students' public schools.

Oh well.

Our students are well-behaved, and the majority do their homework.

So, if repetitive questions are one thing I have to deal with then I will.

But I can still whine.

Cheese anyone?

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