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Freshman English classes: what purpose?

 
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coolsage



Joined: 28 Jan 2003
Location: The overcast afternoon of the soul

PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2004 7:50 am    Post subject: Freshman English classes: what purpose? Reply with quote

Having survived (barely) a few semesters of this particular masochism, I find, on reflection, that the experience is essentially bogus. Bogus for the students, because they are still at the social age of twelve, and trying like hell to catch up on the opposite sex that they haven't seen since elementary school. Bogus for those of us who are attempting to impart learning of any kind, but English in particular, because these twenty-something twelve-year-olds are so preoccupied with discovering each other and their cellphones (sometimes simultaneously) that there's simply no place in their lives for learning. I say, scrap the freshman program altogether. Let that be the purview of the Korean teachers exclusively. When they become sophomores, and have had some of the mojo shaken out of them (for want of a better term), then they're ready to focus a bit more, and maybe even learn something (as opposed to memorizing something or copying something). This freshman 'program', and it seems to be prevalent amongst universities in Korea, is concerned mainly with delivering up numbers and very unconcerned with delivering the goods, i.e. a quality English program. I find myself not only frustrated and disgruntled, but more to the point, underemployed and under-utilized. There's much more that I could contribute to a decent English Language program, but as long as most Korean unis are fixated on a one-semester-and out mindset about English, everyone loses, except for the hagwons, who are happy to pick up the slack and take the money.
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The Hammer



Joined: 18 Jan 2003
Location: Ullungdo 37.5 N, 130.9 E, altitude : 223 m

PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2004 7:30 pm    Post subject: Re: Freshman English classes: what purpose? Reply with quote

coolsage wrote:
I find myself not only frustrated and disgruntled, but more to the point, underemployed and under-utilized. There's much more that I could contribute to a decent English Language program...


From my perspective, the challenge for you is to make a meaningful contribution in spite of the circumstances you find yourself in.

In other words, be creative and do something different at your school that is beneficial for you and for your students.

You are facing a common problem. Solve it and you will prosper.


Last edited by The Hammer on Sat May 15, 2004 4:19 pm; edited 1 time in total
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coolsage



Joined: 28 Jan 2003
Location: The overcast afternoon of the soul

PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2004 3:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not new to this situation, only slightly used on this job. And without sounding bitter or jaded, it's coming down to doing the best work I can, putting the money in the bank, and getting the hell out of here. It has become an existential situation, in which one knows that change is impossible, but one lunges toward change regardless. Perhaps I need to be more heavily sedated.
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PatrickSiheung



Joined: 21 May 2003

PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2004 4:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

lol you always so pretentious?
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rudyflyer



Joined: 26 Feb 2003
Location: pacing the cage

PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2004 5:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

what I'd really like to see is either 1) delay english until the second year like the OP said or 2) have the guys do their military service before entering college. When I have students who have done their army stint they are much easier to deal with and harder workers in class, in general they get the mammas boy out of them.

the first year girls don't bother me as much except for the incessent giggling
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coolsage



Joined: 28 Jan 2003
Location: The overcast afternoon of the soul

PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2004 9:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I'm that pretentious, all the time, all of my waking hours. Clearly you're not dealing day-to day with my situation. But let's be clear here: it's not about me, it's about the lousy program which as a waygook I feel powerless to change. There are levels of decision-making well beyond my comprehension or that of the locals, for that matter. That's key; no one seems to be in charge, nobody's delegating the tasks that need to be dealt with, and good human potential is going to waste. Rudy has it right: wait for the guys to finish their military service, and they do become more focused after that. Then they're more receptive to learning, well, anything. The girls are usually fine, still immature as hell, but teachable.
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OiGirl



Joined: 23 Jan 2003
Location: Hoke-y-gun

PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2004 1:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Surely Korean freshmen students are not prepared for the English classroom, academically or socially. Will delaying this experience for a year or more make them better-prepared? I doubt it! It is a big change for them in many ways, and what the schools need is foreign teachers who are prepared to ease them through this transition.

I am not willing to take on that task at this part in my career!
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kangnamdragon



Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Location: Kangnam, Seoul, Korea

PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2004 3:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rudyflyer wrote:
what I'd really like to see is either 1) delay english until the second year like the OP said or 2) have the guys do their military service before entering college. When I have students who have done their army stint they are much easier to deal with and harder workers in class, in general they get the mammas boy out of them.

the first year girls don't bother me as much except for the incessent giggling


I like the idea of military service right after high school. The only drawback for you would be 21 year old men in the same class with 18 year old women who are more attracted to each other at those respective ages.
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rok_the-boat



Joined: 24 Jan 2004

PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2004 6:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did eight semesters of Freshman English. Tried my best but it would have been a lot better for all if they had their compulsory English later, after they matured a little. Also taught 2nd, 3rd, and 4th years - they were far better to teach. Learning a language could be compulsory, but give them a choice!
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canukteacher



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Location: Seoul, Korea

PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2004 11:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm finishing my 4th semester of teaching Freshman. Yikes! Where has the time flown?

Each semester I like it a little more. I've learned that about 20% of them really want to learn something, and those are the ones that I concentrate on.

I absolutely adore the guys who have done their military service. They are mature, polite, just a pleasure to teach. Their A's are deserved.

CT
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Shadow



Joined: 28 Jan 2003
Location: Pusan, South Korea

PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2004 9:24 pm    Post subject: Well spoken Reply with quote

What you say is so true. For us who are actually trying to get the students to learn something this system just doesn't work. I feel a little guilty sometimes when I show up to teach. However, that's the system that we have to deal with here and that is regrettable.
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Kwangjuchicken



Joined: 01 Sep 2003
Location: I was abducted by aliens on my way to Korea and forced to be an EFL teacher on this crazy planet.

PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2004 10:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love Freshman English. The name says it all. Fresh. They are new to college and do not know what to expect. So, they are willing to participate in activities that usually are only done by native teachers. For example, role plays.

Just a couple of weeks ago I had the best possible example of this. My Freshman English class was doing a role play that I had written. Of course, I often have them write their own and I help with editing.

Anyway, the role play that I had written was about a girl who just found out her boyfriend was cheating on her and had two girl friends.

So, I just randomly assaigned the parts until everyone in that class had taken a turn playing someone in ths skit.

Well, this one student was really great (they were all great) but one was extra great. She had the part of the first girl friend. There she is yelling at the other girl. Shaking her fist and saying, "You keep your hands off him. He was mine first."

And it was also so funny. Like a comedy skit. Why? Because she is a Nun and was wearing a habit as she did her preformance. Laughing

But, if you get students that have already been in college awhile and only had Korean professors, they are less likely to participate because, many Korean English teachers just stand up in class and bla bla bla and mostly in Korean. So, then they get the idea that college is just like k-12. Very teacher centered and the students do nothing.

At my first college in Korea, I had a friend who was a part-time teacher there. She had gotten her BA and MA in English from Pusan National University. She said that for all 6 years she only had Korean English teachers. She graduated both BA and MA with a 4.5. AND she was never once required or given an opportunity to speak a word of English in class for the entire 6 years. Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked



.
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Leslie Cheswyck



Joined: 31 May 2003
Location: University of Western Chile

PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2004 12:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We're up against a mighty foe.

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weatherman



Joined: 14 Jan 2003
Location: Korea

PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2004 2:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really appreciate your honesty about the freshman English programs. I have often felt the same way. After 11 semesters of this business all I can add is that I try to make English seem fun and useful to them as a tool of communication.

Could my university use the foreign teachers better and wiser, 100% they could, but it will never ever happen. Suggestions are only suggestions to the administration. Honestly it gets old and I wonder what to do next?
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sm



Joined: 23 Apr 2012

PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 4:07 am    Post subject: freshmen classes Reply with quote

I'd be interested to hear what people are saying about these classes nowadays (10 years later).
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