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How can I improve my English teacher?

 
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canukteacher



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Location: Seoul, Korea

PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2003 11:30 pm    Post subject: How can I improve my English teacher? Reply with quote

How can I improve my English, teacher? How do you answer this question?

I would say that at least 80% of my students ask this question at least once when taking a class from me. Usually it is preceded by............My English so bad..........How I improve?? Then, the student gets this expectant look on their face........I can almost read their mind.........come on teacher tell me.................I know there is a magic pill I can take........where do I get it?

Of course, they are disappointed when I explain to them that it takes work and commitment to reach a high level, and it takes a long time. I also give them many tips about how they can help themselves improve.

I always get the feeling they are disappointed with my answer.

How do other teachers out there answer this question when asked?

CT Rolling Eyes
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Tiger Beer



Joined: 07 Feb 2003
Location: Hong Kong

PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2003 12:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, for one, coming to class isn't enough!! No teacher can be responsible for them learning English. They have to take control of that themselves.

The best way is to buy tapes and listen to them alot.. instruction tapes.. particularly pronounciation and listening and practicing speaking.. (with a tape)..

Its not enough to chase down foreigners in the street to practice saying 'hi, where are you from?'.. its also not enough to stare at dictionaries looking for direct word transations..

both are pointless in my opinion.. asking foreigner 'where are you from' gives a simple response.. not really learning anything from it.. and staring at dictionaries can tell you what 'back' means, but probably can't tell you what 'back at you' means.. etc, etc.. or how to put a decent sentence together..
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Rand Al Thor



Joined: 28 Jan 2003
Location: Locked in an epic struggle

PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2003 12:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't get asked that question because part of what I teacher is language learning strategies.

Talk about using English outside of class with other Koreans
write a journal
read read read (the best way for vocab acquisition)
the internet is free (use it for reading, chatting, listening- MP3's)
use an MP3 player. record your voice and listen to it - self evaluation
DVD player watch movies without korean subs - use English subs

Goals - teach goal strategies
quatifiable
attainable
written down
with a timeline

tell them to buy a book on language learning strategies and read it 3 times. then follow the advice.

I do all of these with regards to Korean- except the DVD player, but it is on my to buy list.
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The Great Wall of Whiner



Joined: 24 Jan 2003
Location: Middle Land

PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2003 12:46 am    Post subject: good way Reply with quote

The best way is to move to an English-speaking country.

Barring that, get an English-speaking friend.

Korean girls do this all the time!

I have no idea how many Korean girls I have met in the past who "wanted to be friends" with the illusion of "something more may come of it".

I have told my female students in the past point blank "get a foreign boyfriend".
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kimcheeking
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2003 1:28 am    Post subject: Re: good way Reply with quote

The Great Wall of Whiner wrote:
I have told my female students in the past point blank "get a foreign boyfriend".


So you are giving them unrealistic advice? Less than 0.5% of the population in Korea consists of non-koreans. The majority of those are ethnic chinese and south-east asians.

Why not tell them to practice with other Koreans, there is sound second language pedogogy behind that statement. Practice of any kind is useful.
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Zyzyfer



Joined: 29 Jan 2003
Location: who, what, where, when, why, how?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2003 5:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I always bust out the "study overseas" statement. Mostly, because the only real way to learn a language well is to immerse yourself right in it. You'll lose that accent super-fast when you have to speak English every day.
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William Beckerson
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2003 7:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use "Get a foreign boy/girl friend" when I'm feeling smart-assed. Usually they tell me, "I'd love to"

Generally I tell them that English is like any other skill, you have to practice it every day, all the time. During the World Cup I always said, "Does soandso go kick a ball for an hour, three times a week to become a great soccer player? No, he practices soccer every day, all day. You should do that with English."

Then they realize that it's a lot of hard work and go watch TV instead.
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Tiberious aka Sparkles



Joined: 23 Jan 2003
Location: I'm one cool cat!

PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2003 1:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the problem with the majority of students' ability to learn English is that they lack --because of the Korean education system and general conformist nature-- the creativity needed to learn a language. I'm sick of always hearing the excuse that Koreans have a difficult time learning English because the grammar of the two languages are so different. This is partly true, but mostly it's bull. It takes about two weeks to get over the grammar differences. Three if your slow.

That said, if you can convince your student (and I get the impression he or she is older, because EVERY young student I've ever had --even the bright, industrious ones-- have never cared a lick about improving their English) to try some of the following, he or she might actually find them helpful (or more helpful than, say, accosting unsuspecting passersby who would love to be left alone).

-Think in English. This sounds extremely stupid, but its not. I found that when I thought in Korean, my ability to string together longer, more complex sentences improved greatly. And what's better practice when your alone than talking to yourself?

-Listen to a lot of music. I don't care what genre, but it helps a lot if the CD contains liner notes (that way, there'll be no "excuse me while I kiss this guy" misheard lyrics). This is especially effective for improving students' listening and cadence (in terms of understanding and recognizing syllables). Just make sure to not recommend Bob Dylan. Or Sigur Rios.

Read. Tell your students that, even if they don't understand a lot of what they are reading, that it is a good way to get used to grammar and sentence structure. Plus, the reason too many students write so poorly is because they never pick up a damn book. Read, dammit!

Watch TV and movies. This is not the most effective method, but it deserves mentioning. I've encouraged students to watch AFN, CNN and Arirang TV, and I often get the complaint that those stations are so boring (no debate here) that it's pointless. In that case, ask them what their favorite movie is (the response will probably be the name of that hot new Korean movie still out in theaters, in which case you will have to rephrase your question and ask again, "what's your favorite Hollywood movie"). When they tell you "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigalo", ask them to watch it, without subtitles, every day for a week or so. Watching movies is a great way to pick up commonly used idioms and slang.

Anyway, I hope the above tips help. I'd tell you more, but then I'd be giving away the secrets to be found in my upcoming set of motivational books and tapes (and books on tapes). Be on the lookout for Tiberious' --yes, I'm aware the monker is misspelled-- Learn English My Way or Go to Hell series, in stores this fall.
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weatherman



Joined: 14 Jan 2003
Location: Korea

PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2003 2:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I give them a table to fill in which covers a one-week period. I ask them to fill it in when they use English, what ever it might be, such as listening tapes, talking to yourself in English, reading storybooks, etc. I try to make a point that it only isn't studying per se, but how you use English. Are they using English productively? Reading Thomas Hardy with a dictionary is not how you study, but watching Friends on TV and writing down some cool phrases and using them later in a journal or on a native speaker to check for accuracy is. Learning English is a fluid dynamic pursuit, and the good speakers I know in Korea who haven't been overseas or aren't married to an English speaking foreigner, are the ones who make it a daily hobby which they enjoy.
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mike



Joined: 10 Mar 2003
Location: Jeonju

PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2003 6:22 am    Post subject: .. Reply with quote

well, i'll respond to your title, and not your actual message.

the best way to improve your english teacher is to teach them about good solid values, or to fatten them up before the slaughter, maybe by giving them an all expenses paid vacation to the beach. That would certainly improve this english teacher.

essentially, i think it's hard to really improve an english teacher. maybe it's best just to replace them.

MiT
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Circus Monkey



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Location: In my coconut tree

PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2003 10:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I tell them there is no shortcut. Basically what Forrest said. When I tell them that I study Korean for at least an hour a day (I've slacked off lately), then that seems to work.

Or you can always use a trite expression:

The only place that "success" comes before "work" is in a dictionary. Idea

CM
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Chonbuk



Joined: 28 Jan 2003
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2003 12:58 am    Post subject: Sparkles Reply with quote

Love your Avatar!!!!!

Just before I came here the third time, I read The Watchmen. It blew me away....

I started to get freaked out actually with the similiarities to the Watchmen and the Anthrax envelopes in the States.

Bizarre.

With regards to this thread.......

I have taught Korean students in Toronto, they don't learn there, way too shy, and always hang out together. If they really want to learn English you should tell them to go to a small town, with very few Koreans.

My students would only speak English the 1 hour a day that they would talk to me.

The b/f's g/f's are a good idea but not really realisitc ( and this is coming from a gal who thinks comic books are!!!)

Talking to each other, is what they need to start doing, encourage inter class discussion, not just between teacher and student but student to student.

Also Sparkles do you know of any place to get good comic books??

Cheers,

Chonbuk
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Tiberious aka Sparkles



Joined: 23 Jan 2003
Location: I'm one cool cat!

PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2003 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I mentioned in another thread that you can find comics at the Kybo book center in downtown Seoul, but that they only carry Spider-Man, Batman and Superman (and they're expensive as hell).

If you're looking for other titles, there's a magazine shop in the Hongdae area that may carry them (a little tough to find, actually; and I can't give directions well enough. But, if you look for it, there is a TIME magazine logo on the sign in front). I bought Wizard magazine there a few times.

God, I miss my collection back home (and the copy of Amazing Spider-Man #300 that my snotty little brother pawned for three cases of beer while I was away last year).

Watchmen is THE best comic series ever written. I'll go so far as to claim that it is one of the greatest stories ever told, in any medium. The Watchmen, while as thrilling as a Hollywood movie -- more thrilling than most, come to think of it -- is actually great literature. Allan Moore is god. Here's hoping that the recent news that the series is being turned into a Hollywood movie is true, and that they do it RIGHT.

They could even get Tom Cruise to play Ozmandyas (sic?). That is the role he was born for. I'm sure his scientology background would help him fit right into the maniacal characteristics of the world's richest, looniest idealist.
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mokpochica



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Location: Ann Arbor, MI

PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2003 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Weatherman...your ideas sound great by the way.

I've gotten this question a lot, so I've been thinking about it some as well.
It's one thing when a student asks you...and another when a friend or acquaintance (who you don't even teach) asks you.

I think that one motivating way to learn a foreign language is to take one of your interests and really pursue it in the foreign language. If you like reading Korean comic books, then you should find some in English to read. If you like Korean pop music, then listening and singing along to songs in English would be good practice. When people have a low English ability level finding something that gets them motivated and going is really important.

The English learner should also determine what aspects of their English need most improving and what they are capable of doing at that time. If they need to improve their vocabulary, reading magazines, novels, and watching sitcoms (while taking notes) would be good. If they need to improve pronunciation perhaps singing along with pop songs and finding web sites that feature English pronunciation (with sound bytes) would be good. If they need speaking practice then they should find a conversation club or toastmaster's type club in their area to join and perhaps also enroll in some private lessons with a Korean Teacher of English or a teacher from a hagwon. The list could go on and on.

There are so many ways to practice and use a language that I think it can be overwhelming for Korean students of English. Sometimes it's not that they don't want to work, but they just feel that their progress is too slow or they don't know where to begin in this language that looks and sounds totally different from theirs. Having a good teacher to give guidance and lots of starting points is important. Teachers also have to hold kids to high expectations and make their studens do homework, etc. On the same token, having students with enthusiasm, self motivation, and a knack for languages is a big help.
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