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Tip for encouraging adult learners who give up easily

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Joined: 03 Jul 2012
Posts: 1
Location: Seoul, Gyeonggi-do

PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:52 am    Post subject: Tip for encouraging adult learners who give up easily Reply with quote

I'd just like to say that although a lot of us are encouraged to only use English in class and to prevent our students from speaking Korean, I have actually achieved more success when students are allowed to use some Korean under these conditions:

1) They can use Korean with the other students as long as they work together to ultimately translate it into English for me. In this way, the students can work together to provide a lengthy and meaningful response to your question as opposed to simply answering 'yes' or 'no' because they can't explain their thoughts on their own.

2) If they really don't know how to translate something into English after consulting their peers and myself, they can use their dictionaries or the internet to find what they are looking for. I also make it a point to ask them to teach me what they were trying to say in Korean, so that they can remember what they have learned and they can build their confidence knowing that I too didn't know how to say that in a foreign language (humbling yourself in front of your students and showing genuine interest in their own language will help them feel more comfortable to make mistakes in front of you).

3) Once in a while I call them out in a playful manner if they use Korean for something that could've been translated easily. This shakes things up a little to keep class interesting, but also reminds them that they shouldn't depend on Korean so much. Again, the healthy amount of embarrassment will also help them remember what they have learned in class.

If you'd like to improve your Korean language skills with a tutor, I know a good one in Gyeonggi/Seoul. I can't go into details on here because I think it'll look like an ad so just e-mail me at [email protected] if you're interested. I strongly suggest that you make the effort to at least understand some Korean language so that your students can feel more comfortable around you and see you in a more positive light.
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Joined: 28 Apr 2011
Posts: 5
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 12:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Use of the students' native language in the classroom by the teacher is verboten, imho. Some teachers will argue that doing so improves efficiency but what it really does is rob the student of a small but not insignificant chance at real communication. That's instead of a lot of the pretend -- and not very realistic -- stuff that we often foist off on our students such as role plays and stilted, textbook dialogues.

By translating or acting as a bilingual dictionary you are simply training the students to tune out English whenever it occurs while waiting for the explanation in L1: a self-defeating exercise if ever there was one.

There's one exception. One of the first things I teach students is the phrase: "What's _______ [mean] in English?" This gives them the security of a crossover point. At the same time it provides an opportunity for a meaningful mini-discussion on-the-spot.

Let's look an an example. The student says "What's Perro pequeño in English?" I would say "Gee, I don't know [even if I did]. What's it look like? Is it big, small [lots of gestures; knowing the language can help frame the questions but the students need never know that]. Student says and gestures "small." Then get some absurdity into the conversation: "Is it a fruit? A banana [mime eating a tiny banana]? An apple [more gestures]? The resulting laughter will set everyone at ease. You can try other adjectives [soft/hard,] Some more silly misdirection, introduce onomatopoeia: "Is it a car?" [gesture and sound out a horn beeping. Pretty soon you are going to get [roughly] "It's an animal" the equivalent of a "woof! woof!" and a tail-wagging gesture back. "Oh you mean a 'dog.' A 'little dog.' Can someone spell that for me?" At that point communication has been successful. Don't worry about wasting class time. The other students will be all ears: ENGLISH ears.

Worry about milking every communicative opportunity to the fullest while building in small moments of success.
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