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How many hours do you devote to working?
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Broccoli



Joined: 28 Jul 2003
Location: Right foot in Limbo, left foot sliding somewhere darker.

PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2003 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Djsmnc, wow! Shocked As it happens, I'm currently looking at a position like the one you describe. Even if it takes me 4 hours to prep for 4 hours of class, that's still within acceptable limits. (I'm asuming you teach adults to have that kind of shift, and so I'm guessing that I'd need to prepare that much.)

'Free Talking' means, I take it, that you just get the class into a conversation of sorts.

The Beaver, why would that take any prep at all? I'm surely being naive here, but I assume that you could just make small talk...ask about their families, hobbies, favourite TV shows, yada yada. I'm not the kind of person who can just 'wing it,' usually, but it seems to be entailed by the very nature of the class. If a 'Free Talking' class takes more prep than your usual (1 prep hour : 1 teaching hour) ratio, what would your new ratio be?
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the_beaver



Joined: 15 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2003 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Broccoli wrote:
'Free Talking' means, I take it, that you just get the class into a conversation of sorts.

The Beaver, why would that take any prep at all? I'm surely being naive here, but I assume that you could just make small talk...ask about their families, hobbies, favourite TV shows, yada yada. I'm not the kind of person who can just 'wing it,' usually, but it seems to be entailed by the very nature of the class. If a 'Free Talking' class takes more prep than your usual (1 prep hour : 1 teaching hour) ratio, what would your new ratio be?


Ask the average student about their family and you'll get: "I have a mother and a father and an older brother and me," so you have to ask about each family member in turn (which is tedious for you and the other students).

Ask about hobbies and you'll get: "I like to watch television and sleep," so you ask about what they watch and get a few answers about a few shows and move onto the next student.

You can exhaust all of the topics you mentioned above, plus a few more, in one class.

Small talk isn't that easy and it can be like pulling teeth to get people to give full answers. It's easy for me to talk for an hour, but I'm not the one who should be talking. So, to prepare for such a class I change the free talking idea into a topic discussion idea and prepare for the class. Back in my hagwon days, at the minimum, I decided on a topic and made or found questions about the topic. Nowadays I give a task that requires students to talk to each other in order to complete it (I'm a big fan of task-based learning).

So my ratio of class to prep would be, on average, 1:1.5 or so. If I'm doing something I've done before and reusing the materials I can prep for a class in 10 minutes or I can take hours because I'm a nerd and making handouts and class materials on the computer is fun for me (I'll take this opportunity to recommend Microsoft Publisher -- it should be every teacher's best friend among available software).
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djsmnc



Joined: 20 Jan 2003
Location: Dave's ESL Cafe

PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2003 9:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to agree with The Beaver on that issue. I've had a good handfull of those students who are all about the one word response.

"What did you do today?"
"Sleeping"
"Really? That's it...just lay in bed and sleep. Didn't even use the bathroom?"
"Haha, yes"

The solution I have is to keep up with the news. Find something interesting (i.e. like when I saw on the news that a Gay-only high school is opening in New York City), then relate it to Korea somehow. Soon you'll have an in depth discussion.

I used to prepare a lot. Problem was, the stuff I found only caused confusion, and anything I printed or brought in would just turn out to be a waste of money and paper. Nowadays...though I go home next weekend for good anyway...I have just brought an open mind and the textbook. If we are lost for words, we use the book to find a topic.

I decided to go about it this way after the reason I mentioned in my earlier post, but especially because a few months back I had an older student...this guy would only speak a few words and answer in barely audible mumbles. He complained to the director that I only used the book, and it felt too much like a grammar class. I decided to just leave the book in the office and run my mouth for an hour to see what he thought. He loved it, and was soon very involved in the conversations. This became my new "Free-talking" style.

I notice a lot of new people come to class and slowly pull out their book, ready to grind through some repetitive grammar and lame topics. They are often surprised when I begin to hit them up with questions and throw in jokes.
It's led to a lot of free meals and drinks after class. I'm not saying my way is professional, proper and applicable to every class, but by golly, it works!

4 hours a day, 2 in the morning 2 at night. Really lucky now, but I went through absolute torture during the winter months. I don't think this is the kind of job you'll just find suddenly, it came for me after a Passport issue, a period of 8 hours a day between 2 schools and about 9 fired or angry-to-the-point-of-quitting Korean English teachers. My boss definitely lacks some scruples, but it all worked out for me after holding out about 7 months (I mean that as a capital ME, the Korean and Japanese teachers are really struggling right now, and I sometimes feel like the jackass Westerner who gets all he wants because he's a white Native speaker..though I didn't ask for it to work out like this, it just did) ...
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kimcheeking
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 02, 2003 1:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Free talking sucks...

discussion is better and honestly do you want to talk about hobbies, and what you did last weekend every class. Plus what do you do around day 4 or 5 when you run out of small talk "topics", if you can even stretch them that far. The reason small talk works for friends/family is because of common interests and experience. You can reminisce about the time you were camping with your buddies and you needed to take a crap in the middle of the woods, forgot the TP, used a leaf only to realize 2 days later that you used poison ivy funny story (happened to my brother when he was 16)

Discussion topics require prep. Choose a topic, prepare readings (if necessary), prepare a task, questions and organize the lesson so that students have to talk, enjoy it, want to keep talking, & learn something without even realize they are doing this. A discussion class requires at the very minimum 1 hour of prep for a new topic. 30 minutes for a topic I have taught before.

I wish I had seen this topic before, so I could have provided info earlier. But I will just have to say that everything the_beaver has said I agree %100 with.

Get a job first, second contract with experience in Korea you will have a much better chance of getting a good university position.
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Broccoli



Joined: 28 Jul 2003
Location: Right foot in Limbo, left foot sliding somewhere darker.

PostPosted: Sat Aug 02, 2003 2:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your help folks. It sounds like your Korean students are much like my Canadian ones; they stare at me like deer caught in headlights when I try to evoke a conversation. I can sympathize with their desire to avoid looking stupid in front of their peers, but it's a struggle to motivate them to earn their participation marks. (Of course, there are always a few who have opinions on everything, but this can make it even more challenging to get everyone into the discussion.)

I had one prof who would ask point blank questions of random students. "You...what does 'autonomous' mean?" "You...what does a lemon taste like?" I hated that class! The prof was a really good lecturer, but it was too stressful. My favourite discussion classes were when a prof would defend a contentious position on a topic relevant to the curriculum. This would incite spontaneous debate in the class since people would be too pissed off to stay quiet for long. However, I think that this would be a very dangerous way for me to go in Korea. I don't know the culture well enough to walk the line between 'controversial' and 'offensive' behaviour.

The_beaver, thanks for your advice and for the software reccommendation. I'll check out ebay for used versions of Microsoft Publisher.

Kimcheeking, thanks for your advice as well, and for the amusing anecdote. (I thought that story was an urban myth!) You've confirmed my suspicions.

Djmsmnc, thanks for the info. I won't hold out for a position like yours. I'm glad you found a good situation after all you've had to go through. I'm guessing you're a pretty charisthmatic person and that your students genuinely respect your opinions. I also think it's awesome that you had the guts to generate a discussion on a politically charged issue like gay rights. For now, I'm going to keep my head low in the political arena ... in EFL classes that is.

My experiences leading impromptu discussions have been not good (strangely, the exception was one time when I was a bit tipsy for my night class ... but that certainly isn't the kind of behaviour that I want to make habitual.) Perhaps I'm just too nervous unless I have done a lot of prep, and students can smell my fear! Sometimes I can seem like I'm casually and spontaneously generating a class debate, but secretly I've done tons of prep and committed it to memory.

I think the first few months are going to be pretty heavy prep-wise regardless of the job I take, given how ignorant I am about EFL instructional techniques. However, I'm getting the impression that afterwards I may be able juggle the student/teacher/human parts of my life. It won't be a walk in the park, but it should at least be manageable. They key will be finding a school with a solid curriculum and good resources (and not just imaginary ones). Jobs that consist exclusively of conversation classes will have to be limited to 20 hours a week unless it is possible to reuse one set of preparations in several classes. Otherwise, a typical hogwan job with 30 hours of class and 15 hours of prep is still within reason, especially if I can sandwich some of the prep between classes.

I think you've all put me on the right track so that I can ask the crucial of questions of my potential employer and coworkers in order to find the job that suits my constraints.

Thanks for all of your help, folks!
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