Tuesday, January 26, 2010

In the Classroom

When Ian and I first started teaching, things were a bit rough.  We had no training and only a vague idea of what was needed from us.  Though it was hell at the time, I think it taught us some lessons about problem solving and about our own skill sets.  Also, Ian and I now have really concrete ideas about what we need from an employer and a workplace on the whole.  So, hopefully, this all means that we will interview much better and have a better shot at getting a job we'd really enjoy stateside.

Things have changed quite a bit.  We now have Gene to keep us abreast of what's happening on the business level of Yoon's and we've genuinely become better teachers.  I wouldn't say that I'm a good teacher.  I think that it takes a special person with a skill set I don't have to really succeed at this job.  I'm better at working on my own and I don't enjoy being 'on' all day.  I can find work on my own and I don't like have every millisecond of my workday planned out for me.  I like a little leadership and control, even if it is just over my own agenda.

In the beginning Ian and I had no idea what to do for lesson plans.  We simply went through each unit and there weren't many activities in our classrooms.  Occasionally we'd pull a worksheet off the internet, but that was about it.

Now, Ian and I make a worksheet and a homework assignment for every class above Beginner 2.  We've gotten to the point where we have a flexible formula for each class and a set of activities and games that we can fall back on if the class lulls.


Pictionary- Using words from the topic of the week, the students take turns drawing pictures on the bored and the rest of the class guesses.  Whomever guesses correctly gets to draw the next picture.  The catch is that they must guess in full sentences, "Is it (a) ___________ ?" and the drawer answers, "No, it isn't," or "Yes, it is."

Hangman- I let my students run this one.  They choose the words, run the board and guess the letters.  This game is great for testing their vocabulary and spelling.

Taboo- This game only works for advanced classes.  I make cards with the key word and taboo words on them.  The students work in pairs and try to describe the key words without saying any of the taboo words.  It's pretty difficult, but it works to get them talking.

Bingo-  Self explanatory.  The little kids love bingo.  Really, it's just vocabulary practice and a chance to win a lot of stickers.


Word Race- Basic 1 and 3 students usually have a set of vocabulary words for the week.  So, I make little cards and pairs of two students lay out the cards on the tables.  When I say a word, the first student to pick up the correct card (in each pair) wins a point.  The number of points each student gets, anywhere from one to ten, equals the number of stickers they'll get at the end of the game.  The students collect stickers on a sheet in order to get prizes (board games, umbrellas, jump ropes, etc.).

Question Catch- The students throw a ball to each other and ask various questions relating to the topic of the unit.  They have to answer in full sentences, so I'm always correcting their grammar.

Worksheet Interviews- Ian and I make worksheets designed to help the students interview each other.  Sometimes the students put in a lot of effort and do very well, but other times I have to spoon feed them the assignment.

Animal Cards- Any time a class has a topic revolving around animals I make animal cards for them to play go fish or use them in Question Catch.  They love them and they usually beg to keep them.

Ian and I have certainly put in the effort to try to meet Julia's evasive standards.  I hope she's happy with us.  I haven't heard otherwise from Gene.  My students seem happier, and that's good enough for me.

If you had to teach an English class to 8 Korean children tomorrow, what activities or games would you do?

Good night!


  1. Wow, I am totally clueless. I guess I might start with a simple counting game, and a body parts game, like head shoulders knees and toes. So, ya, I guess I better not plan on a career change to teaching English Abroad anytime soon.

    Hey what about you teacher followers out there!

  2. What a fun class! The only other game I can think of (if my tired brain didn't miss it in your post) is 20 questions. It might work for your older classes that know a lot of adjectives.

    Would any of your classes be ready for madlibs? I loved that growing up. Well, I still do.

    Don't sell yourself short on your teaching skills! It can't be easy to walk into a classroom of kids who all speak a language that you don't and to be able to keep them learning and involved. It sounds like you are being very inventive and learning a lot yourself too!

  3. Mom- We actually do those activities with the younger kids on certain units. Most of them like it. So, you're not too far off track.

    Danie- I've never tried 20 questions. That's a good idea. Ian and I will be starting MadLibs next week with Essential 1. They need help with their parts of speech. I hope it goes well. I love MadLibs!

  4. I totally hear ya on the teaching thing, def. not my strength but I've come to enjoy aspects and use my skills in creativity to keep the kids engaged and learning. And then there are just THOSE days when you're like what am I doing?!?!? ; )