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Clueless Hogwon is DRIVING ME NUTS - suggestions?
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Canuckophile



Joined: 30 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2003 2:47 pm    Post subject: Clueless Hogwon is DRIVING ME NUTS - suggestions? Reply with quote

Mad I was employed to teach kindie classes(4-5 daily) but this hogwon was experiencing financial difficulties so I VOLUNTEERED (can you believe it?)to teach in theafternoon hogwon, which has the typical Korean "English" teachers (who rarely speak English well and have major difficulties understanding me).

The school advertised me as their "English conversation" native teacher, but wound up with only 17 students, which they have scattered through FOUR classes, only on the basis of what "fit" the kid's schedule rather than the kid's current English level.

I can't get these people to understand that I cannot teach a class with 2 nine-year olds (no English- don't even read the alphabet from what I can figure out) and 2 13 year olds with reasonably good English. EVERY class is like this.

Textbooks haven't arrived yet... we're in the 3rd week of classes.... I'm going nuts.

The other hogwon teachers are supposed to be my liaisons (I get a new one each week) but they don't even tell me(a) when NO ONE will be in my class cuz kids are at a special camp or something (at least that's what I think they were saying) so I sit for 20 mins waiting for kids who will nevershow up before I go and tell them, only to be told "oh, no kids today"; (b) when they've told a kid who missed one class to attend another as a make up class... so I get a surprise "visitor" in myclass for a lesson that repeats the lesson the kid just had. (Yes, I gave him some worksheets to do - but isn't this bizarre?)

Etc. I'm sure you get the picture.

I've about destroyed any possible semblance of Korean gibun complaining about all this... but my practical question is: DOES ANYONE HAVE SUGGESTIONS ON HOW TO TEACH A CLASS IN WHICH THE STUDENT LEVEL IS SO UNPREDICTABLE?

I think I'm stuck with these different levels ("Oh, it is so hard to schedule students; we cannot change now" -- I have pointed out that kids will drop out cuz the beginners will be confused and the better students will be bored.... the teachers just nod sadly)) but HAS ANYONE ELSE HAD THIS EXPERIENCE? Any coping ideas?

I can do some simple stuff with all of them (working on pronunciation etc) but I'm clueless about planning a real curriculum with a class of kids that (a) is on wildly different levels ; and (b) I have no idea who's showing up (or if there will even BE a class) from one day to the next.

Excuse the lengthy diatribe here -- I'm venting.
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Mody Ba



Joined: 22 May 2003

PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2003 3:15 pm    Post subject: Why Don't You Just Play Games With Them? Reply with quote

That is what they expect,anyway.I would not worry too much about actually teaching at a hakwon.You are going to drive yourself crazy if you actually try to teach them

As for the financial situation of the hakwon. it sounds distressingly familiar.Basically,there are too many of them, especially in places like Seoul. I hope you are looking for another job,and not depending on this place to be financially solvent.

An old,sad,all too familiar hakwon story. Rolling Eyes
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EFL Teacher



Joined: 01 Feb 2003

PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2003 3:25 pm    Post subject: Re: Clueless Hogwon is DRIVING ME NUTS - suggestions? Reply with quote

Canuckophile wrote:

The other hogwon teachers are supposed to be my liaisons (I get a new one each week) but they don't even tell me(a) when NO ONE will be in my class cuz kids are at a special camp or something (at least that's what I think they were saying) so I sit for 20 mins waiting for kids who will nevershow up before I go and tell them, only to be told "oh, no kids today"; (b) when they've told a kid who missed one class to attend another as a make up class... so I get a surprise "visitor" in myclass for a lesson that repeats the lesson the kid just had. (Yes, I gave him some worksheets to do - but isn't this bizarre?)


It may be bizarre, but it's also typical.
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PatrickSiheung



Joined: 21 May 2003

PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2003 3:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with the above posts. Very typical. The same kind of thing happens where I work. Don't stress about teaching these kids. Just fill the time with fun things for them to do. If you actually try and teach them, you'll be wasting your time as well as theirs.
Someone once said that those with a clue realize they aren't teachers here, they're wallpaper. It's so true.
I have had countless meetings with my directors to improve the teaching that the children get. For a long time I sincerely wanted them to learn English. I soon discovered that they want money and success, but they don't see the connection to the quality of the teaching program. Pft, go figure.
Just go with the flow and don't worry about it. If there is no class that day, consider yourself lucky to get a break!
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mokpochica



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Location: Ann Arbor, MI

PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2003 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have classes of 35 with very different levels. Some of the kids have lived in the US, Australia, New Zealand. Some have been going to hagwons forever and do really well at speaking. Some have never heard a full English sentence spoken by a teacher before and I freak them out.

I try to plan activities that can be done by everyone and that are kind of self-adjustable. Today I played a game with the kids that worked really well where they had to write a list of 25 words that ended in certain letters and then add up their scores at the end. Ex:
1) ends in s: teenager(s) 9 points (1 for each letter) 2) -tion: atten(tion)-5 points 3) ow: yell(ow) 4 points, etc.

Activities like this can work well because I can walk around and help kids and chat with the ones who are able to carry on short conversation.

I've also found the Boggle's World site to be extremely helpful. I have no textbook, but there are so many worksheets and great flashcards there that it's a great help.

Another activity that works well, even for beginning students, is a Gouin series. It works best if you use props while doing it. I've done this with 'making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich' and was amazed at how my kids could say all the steps without any written cues by the end of the lesson.

Anyway, in general I try to make my classes contained to that one day and don't assume that the kids have much background information about what I will be teaching before I go into it. Many of them might, but a lot of them need review and some of them need introducing. Most of my lessons are structured with some kind of notebook activity that gives information and prepares the kids for the lesson (often giving them background information). Then I give them models, examples of the activity/game we will be doing. Finally, I test them for what they have learned that day. I only see my students once a week, so you may not have to be so structured as this, but it works for me.

It's unfortunate that different levels in hagwon are the norm ( we all know they are in public schools, but you would hope that private classes would be a bit better). If you do some investigating with google and on teacher sites, I bet you can find a lot more ideas for teaching different levels. Hang in there, try some different strategies, and you will probably find a solution that makes the situation bearable.
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OiGirl



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

PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2003 6:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As the others said, yeah, it's normal, so do you have to find some way to "teach" them or someting.

Some things to do with multi-level classes where not everyone always shows up:

Review at the beginning of every class. Yes, all kids need review, and there will always be one (even if she's been in the class all along! Rolling Eyes ) for which the material is completely new.

Try to have activities that students can participate in at different levels. Lower students might give one-word answers, higher students have to answer with a complete sentence. Or students might be reading stories or doing puzzles on the same topic but at different levels.

(This is called "differentiation" and is all the rage in US schools this week. I had to read the book The Differentiated Classroom for a class. You may want to check it out, if you are that interested.)

Play a lot of review games. BINGO, hangman, tic-tac-toe with questions, Wheel of Fortune, Pictionary. Some of these involve a bit of preparation, (that's what those "no-show" classes are for!) but once you have the inital prep done, you can just pull them out.
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OiGirl



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

PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2003 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mokpochica wrote:
Today I played a game with the kids that worked really well where they had to write a list of 25 words that ended in certain letters and then add up their scores at the end. Ex:
1) ends in s: teenager(s) 9 points (1 for each letter) 2) -tion: atten(tion)-5 points 3) ow: yell(ow) 4 points, etc.


I really like this idea! Where did you find it? (Or did you invent it Surprised ?) You should post it in the Idea Cookbook.

Can you imagine, we are exchanging teaching ideas here!!
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The Lemon



Joined: 11 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2003 6:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like that idea too. Good one!
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William Beckerson
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2003 7:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your school is going to go under or your boss is a lying crook. Save your money, and then get out when you can.

And stop volunteering for them, they'll never appreciate or support you for it.
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EFL Teacher



Joined: 01 Feb 2003

PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2003 7:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Run Forrest Run wrote:
And stop volunteering for them, they'll never appreciate or support you for it.


Truer words have never been spoken.
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mokpochica



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Location: Ann Arbor, MI

PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2003 7:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OiGirl wrote:
I really like this idea! Where did you find it? (Or did you invent it Surprised ?) You should post it in the Idea Cookbook.

Can you imagine, we are exchanging teaching ideas here!!


It's on page 176 of the Fulbright ETA teaching manual.

I often try to exchange teaching ideas here, but I think a lot of people are more interested in the fun topics that offer them an escape. I like to escape from work too though, so I can understand.
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Dr. Buck



Joined: 02 Mar 2003
Location: Land of the Morning Clam

PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2003 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since when did hogwons become charity cases?
They are hungry profit-driven enterprises.
And you volunteer?
And then you whine about it?
Just walk away and cut your lost free time and gained stress while you can.
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blackbird



Joined: 28 Apr 2003
Location: Songtan

PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2003 7:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you are determined to stick it out there are some things you can do.
First split the class into 2 sections. While one class does in class assignments teach to the other class. After half of the class switch.
One section will be taught and immediately do homework. The other will be taught and do their assignment at the beginning of the next class.

You can finish the day by having a group game. Play tic-tac-toe or something. In tic-tac-toe (use a big board-20 spaces) they must answer a question correctly to get an "X" or an "O". You can ask the lower level kids about their ABC's and review homework with the advanced kids. The kids will love it because they can compete regardless of their level.

Hope this helps.
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mokpochica



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Location: Ann Arbor, MI

PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2003 8:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rike wrote:
Okay, same middle school class as discussed above. We have no book. I'm not supposed to use a book. This is a free conversation class. Don't forget, two boys are not that familiar with the alphabet, two can barely spell their names, two are a let's go 3 level and one is a let's go 2 level. When I ask for advice from the boss (who is also their Korean teacher), he tells me to just talk to them or to teach them how to talk.

So, what can I do? Should I go ahead and start with the alphabet? Three out of seven students are at the point where I COULD start teaching conversation techniques. The other four are not yet able to answer yes/no questions and have no idea how to say how old they are, what color they like, etc. Teaching to the majority would have me starting with the alphabet.


I think teaching speaking skills (but not necessarily conversational skills) is doable and will likely be a challenge for all of your students, but one that can be completed by all. Actually, a lot of foreign language teachers nowadays say that speaking skills should be taught before writing anyway (especially with languages where there are big differences between the way words are spoken and the way they are spelled), so it may be to your students' advantage not to use a textbook for a little while. I think showing them written letters (and words, phrases) as a cue or as a way of testing their knowledge is still good though. Especially after they have memorized the sound of the word already.

I think it's important that your director realize that the kids aren't capable of conversing now though, and that to prepare to speak English well there are a lot of things that kids need to learn (maybe phonics, vocabulary, verbs). And kids do need to learn how to write to really know English--not to mention that it is the way of recording information for later study and a big part of what learning English is all about.

Here are some sites that might be useful for you:
Songs and Mini Dialogues

Methodology for Innovative Instruction: Check out the information about Gouin series on page 3 and TPR activities on page 6.

Anyway, I could say more about this speaking before writing thing, what I've learned about it and how I think it applies to different levels/ages of kids and to Korean kids in particular, but I'll end this for now.
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OiGirl



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

PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2003 3:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wrote:
We have no book. I'm not supposed to use a book. This is a free conversation class. Don't forget, two boys are not that familiar with the alphabet, two can barely spell their names, two are a let's go 3 level and one is a let's go 2 level.

Almost forgot to mention that any writing or reading activities are discouraged as this IS a "Free Conversation" class.


What a class! These kids are certainly lucky to have you.

Some ideas--

Buy a few Korean magazines, whatever these boys are into, and cut out the pictures, mount them on art paper, get them laminated/coated, and do some multi-level oral exercises. For example, lower kids will practice naming the pictures and things in them, higher students have conversations about them.


Low-level: soccer/football, ball, player, kick, run, shoot, shorts, jersey, socks, cleats

Have students name one of these words and a partner points to it. Can you read and write at all? Have cards with the words on them, students pick a card, read it, point to the object. You could put words on one side of the card and picture on the other for the lowest students.

Higher level:
Students pretend to be sports commentators.
Students make a conversation between player and coach.
Students interview each other about soports, etc.

Multi-level:
Make BINGO cards on a given topic. Pictures on one side, words on the other. Tell each student which side they should use. Call a word, use it in a sentence, the word again.

Anyway, it's going to be a lot of work. But if the class disbands in a month, you can try it out on a new set of victims.
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