2012년 7월 20일 금요일
First Week in Seosan
Well, I've finished my first week, and overall I think it went pretty well. I'm starting to get the feel of handling classes of over 30 kids who have memorized English vocabulary and drilled on English sentences but don't really understand or speak English. And I think my co-teachers are starting to trust me. Early in the week they were very involved, sort of babysitting the kids, translating a lot, etc. By the end of the week many of them would do their own extra end-of-the-semester work and just monitor and be on hand if the kids were struggling very hard or if a particularly difficult concept came up. One of the co-teachers exclaimed, "I think you were born to teach!"
In fact, they stopped protesting when I told the students that in MY class, we speak ONLY ENGLISH. I clarified that they could use Korean *when they needed help finding the right words to say something in English.* I also clarified that I don't expect full sentences, that I know they'll be using pantomime and single words at first. I assured them that I would help them learn to put their own thoughts into English. The teachers and kids are very skeptical, but I think it can work, and much more quickly than the Korean teachers think.
Since their heads are chock-full of memorized English, and a lot of them can write in English fairly well, some of the classes will probably be able to speak quite a bit by the end of the year. My hope for the less skilled classes is that they'll lose their fear of trying to communicate with English speakers without using Korean. Either way, I think that the English Only Rule will be enforceable after two months or so, the same as for a preschool class in a hagwan. Yeah, the hagwan preschoolers spent much more time with me, but they knew less English to begin with. I'm not so much teaching the older kids English as I am teaching them to use something that they're already familiar with. It's almost as if a class of home-ec students had spent years reading recipes, measuring ingredients, sautéing onions, slicing carrots, and so forth, but had never actually cooked anything. They know the theory. Now it's time to put it into practice.
The trick will be coming up with lessons that reinforce the targets from the books. The problem is, after going through the books, I'm a bit bewildered as to what the goal is for each lesson. It's more like they have canned vocabulary and sentences for certain situations than that they want the kids to master a specific skill, such as being able to discuss simple future plans (I'm going to watch TV.), to describe simple past events (I ate kimchi, chicken, and rice for dinner.), describe a person (She had long brown hair and brown eyes, and she's wearing a yellow shirt and blue jeans.) etc. It's hard to plan activities when you have no idea what it is they're supposed to be learning, other than the list of canned sentences that don't have much of a connection that I can see.
For summer class (about 2 weeks; then I get 8 working days of vacation!) Miss Song (a beautiful name for a beautiful woman!) wants the kids to publish a school newsletter.
I suspect that most of the kids don't actually write in English, but they write in Korean and then translate. I'll have to find out. Miss Song wants me to come up with some ways to do exercises to increase their writing skills before they start writing their articles, op-eds, etc. for the newsletter.
I'm trying to decide between two approaches: sequential (which is how Miss Song is planning right now to teach the class) and parallel. The advantage of sequential is that the kids will refine their skills before their first drafts, so that they don't become too attached to a poorly-written piece. The advantage of parallel is that it would give the kids the chance to refine their own work with minimal input from the teacher. Personally, I favor the second approach, because part of good writing is the re-write, and I want them to master that skill.
Miss Song will assign topics and the length of articles based on each student's existing skills. She's already very familiar with them. (I teach around 750 students, so there is simply no way for me to get to know all of them. ) By the end of class, of course, I'll know the 10 summer class kids pretty well, but then they'll be blending back in with the crowd.
On Monday I'll have Miss Song's preliminary lesson plans for the project, which I am to flesh out.