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Badmojo



Joined: 12 Oct 2003
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2003 2:23 am    Post subject: Does this sound familiar? Reply with quote

Crying or Very sad I have 150 Korean students aged 11-13 who have less energy and activity than a stiffened carcus in a morgue. Dead people probably have more language skill too, but that's not really the problem - their effort is. Unfortunately, I see them only once a week for 45 minutes. It's unfortunate because if I saw them everyday, if they were my own class, I could start instituting more of my own ideas and turn the tide. As it is, I'm told to forget the book and "do my own things". Lovely. Mainly what that means is play games and babysit. Lovely, since these students are in no mood for games, and from what I can see, no mood for English.

How am I supposed to motivate these students? How do I twist myself into thinking that my 45 minutes a week is going to do a lick of good? How can I insist they speak in English when their Korean teacher can barely string together a coherent sentence? Can anybody suggest what I should try to accomplish with such students in such a situation?

Right now, I don't know what the ends are. I don't have the means either. I'm mean-less. Meaningless.
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dduck



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 265

PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2003 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Do I understand this correctly? You have a class, one class, of 150 students for 45 mintues a week?

First idea: Songs.

Get them to talk about music they like and then get them to sing. If they like a song they should want to understand what the words are. Then you can teach them something useful. Smile

Good Luck
Iain
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Lorikeet



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 1368
Location: San Francisco, California

PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2003 6:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ooh maybe you could get them to rap! Wink Not as far fetched as it may seem, although it might be hard to find some popular rap that isn't full of bad words Confused Either that or you could write your own. In ESL, we call rapping "Jazz Chants" Twisted Evil
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Badmojo



Joined: 12 Oct 2003
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2003 4:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, I'm sorry, I should have made it clearer. Think of 10 different classes with 15 students each. I see each class once a week for 45 minutes.

As for your suggestion, songs and raps, it could help, except, I wouldn't bank on them knowing that many. Maybe I could do one or two per class, but any more than that would go over like a lead zeppelin.

I'm just distraught by their complete indifference to our time together. My younger students (7-11), on the other hand, are awesome. They're drastically low too, but very willing to learn.
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dduck



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 265

PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2003 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Badmojo,

I'm don't know your students, so I shouldn't judge, but you sound very disheartened and lacking in enthusiasm. I think we're all faced with difficult classes at times. The question is: are you going to regroup and search for different approaches to reach your students or are you going to raise the white flag and go home? You attitude to the problem is crucial.

Secondly, I don't know your students, but you have the opportunity to get know them and ask them what they do, what they think, what they feel. And you can let them know you. I think this helps get you and the students motivated to communicate meaningfully.

Iain
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Lorikeet



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 1368
Location: San Francisco, California

PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2003 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe you could get them to give you some vocabulary words or a story, and you could make it into some kind of rapping thing. (I have used a rap-style to show my students the rhythm of English--explaining of course that you don't speak like that when on the bus, etc., but you can really rap anything, including this. Very Happy) It's not necessary for them to know any--just to know the genre. At least it might perk them (and you!) up!

Well, here's an example of one I wrote (using the vowel sounds in cat and cot) This one is for two people/groups/etc.)

It's hot.
It's not.
It's not?
No, it's not.
Okay, it's not hot.

Tommy's fat.
He's not.
He's not?
No, he's not.
Okay, he's not fat.

Tammy's sad.
She's not.
She's not?
No, she's not.
Okay, she's not sad.

I'm mad.
You're not.
I'm not?
No, you're not.
Oh yes, I am. You're wrong. I'm mad!

You know, I was also thinking of different kinds of activities. Granted, I teach adults, but I think different types of matching card activities work also work well with younger kids. Sometimes I have conversations they have to put in order. (Each line of the conversation is on a different card, with the speaker's name on it.) I've also done scrambled sentences, where I've cut up a sentence and added two words as distractors, and put them in an envelope. Each pair of students has to make the sentence (not using 2 words). When the students finish one number, they put the words back in the envelope and get another one. If one group finishes fast, I check the work and tell them which ones they got wrong. Then we check them together. Sometimes their choices are also English, even though they aren't the same as mine.
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Badmojo



Joined: 12 Oct 2003
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2003 2:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dduck,

Think of a dead beginner class. Think of fifteen 12 and 13 year old dead beginners who are only in English class because they have to be. Think of a class that is taught in Korean four days out of five, and then gets 45 minutes with me once a week. All of the sudden, there's no more Korean. English is being spoken in English class. How novel. And since this new foreign teacher isn't like the old one, that is, he's actually trying to do something constructive, this 45 minutes isn't going to be "talk to your deskmate and clown around in Korean time", it's no wonder they're a little discombobulated and probably put off by my presence. So on top of this, think of a dead beginner class that doesn't want to be there.

And I've seen this phenomenon before. I've seen how things are from the other side of the communicative classroom. I know that you damn well better want to learn the language if you're going to get anything out of it. Otherwise, you think the teacher is just talking a lot of gibberish and you tune out. And that's what I have, a bunch of tuned out students.

How do I tune them in? Like I wrote in the first post, if I saw them more than once a week, I could change how things are done. For example, they'd hear me speak in English everyday, they'd be speaking in English everyday. It'd be easier to put them into step with what I want to do. But that's not going to happen. As it is, I have to find some way to motivate them into listening to me and speaking in English one day out of five, for 45 minutes. And that's why I'm here. That's why I'm asking for help.

I'll tell you this, this is the last job I take where I don't get my own class.
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strider



Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 160
Location: France

PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2003 10:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm with dduck on this one, your attitude will make the difference between progress and 'discombobulated'-ness!

First, a little empathy. Imagine you had a teacher when you were 12, who only spoke Korean. What would have gotten YOU interested in the subject?

Admit that it must be easier for them to get interested in English. English means Bruce Willis, Robbie Williams, James Bond, Charlies Angels! If they're not into music or films, find out what it is they are interested in. Why not put together an 'interview' with Sonic the Hedgehog? Why not make an exercise or two around a Mr. Bean clip? They'll soon get the message if they see that their effort on an exercise = the next clip.

Change the bit of cheese at the end of the maze from 'English' to something that they're interested in and you'll soon see a difference!
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dduck



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 265

PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2003 3:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Badmojo wrote:
Think of a dead beginner class. ... So on top of this, think of a dead beginner class that doesn't want to be there.

How do I tune them in?


I do sympathize with you, Badmojo. Let's see what we can come up with.

I like Strider's ideas about movie characters. My boss taught a small group of Mexican students - he made the students imagine lots of different movie characters. I had the misfortune of saying hello to him and his class just at the wrong moment. I became known as James Bond, 007, thereafter. I suggest you look for signs of western culture around you. What do normal Korean kids think of western culture, do they wear US-style clothes? Do they listen to rap?

Alternatively, you might try looking for weird examples of western culture that'll surprise them. I talked to my students about men in Scotland wearing skirts (aka kilts), they fell about the place laughing. Wink Having a joke and a laugh (at ones own expense, perhaps) goes a long way to getting them motivated.

Iain
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EH



Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 174
Location: USA and/or Korea

PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2003 10:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Korean middle schoolers can definitely be morale killers for English teachers. You may have to decide that some of those classes are just going to be lame most of the time, and focus on enjoying your studious little guys instead.

But all hope is not completely lost. Using pop culture as a teaching tool is definitely a good idea. Also, girls vs boys competitions can sometimes be effective motivators. If you're having trouble getting them to actually do anything you tell them to do, sometimes physical movement activities (like Simon Says or similar commands) can increase the likelihood of a response. In my experience, the thing Korean middle schoolers dread more than anything else is being embarrassed in front of the class, and speaking up in English is really embarrassing. Try doing more short writing activities (writing captions for weird pictures, filling in blanked-out speech balloons of cartoons, writing chain stories where each kid writes one sentence of the story then passes it on, etc.). Sometimes it's easier for them to read out loud what they wrote than it is for them to just say something out loud.

Good luck.
-EH
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Badmojo



Joined: 12 Oct 2003
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Sat Nov 01, 2003 1:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello everyone, and thank you for your suggestions. I have followed some of your advice, and some of the classes have been getting better. I have decided activity is the key. They seem to be more receptive to activities that get them up and moving. I can't say I'm really teaching them a lot of English, but there's only so much this foreign teacher can, or even wants, to do. You know, I asked them what they wanted to do in our class, 50% came back "play games", 20% "sleep", 10% "go home", 10% "do other homework", 10% "study English."

Yesterday I was flipping through the log of one of the classes I'm having problems with, and read this entry from the previous foreign teacher. Now I don't know this man from Adam, but if he has a drinking problem, I think I can accurately pinpoint, to the day, when his drinking problems began. Were you always an alcoholic? "No sir, not till I started working in Asan."

'did no study because I was unable to discipline students. There are too many students in this class for me to teach effectively. The students find it funny when I get angry. The only way to focus these students is to throw a green board eraser at the board so hard that it breaks into small pieces. I feel physically sick after teaching these students. It seems to be a complete waste of time and energy. It makes me very happy to think it will soon all be over.'

If you have any other suggestions, please feel free to continue adding them to the thread.

Happy teaching!
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Lorikeet



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 1368
Location: San Francisco, California

PostPosted: Sat Nov 01, 2003 3:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm glad things are a little better and you seem to have gotten back your sense of humor. Looks like you are already ahead of the last teacher that was there! That was some entry you found.

By the way, have you tried variations on "Simon Says"? I have done practice following instructions and using body vocabulary using the usual "Stand up" "Sit down" "Write xxx on the blackboard." etc. Then extended to "Put your right hand on your head." "Put your left hand on your right elbow." And then to "Don't put your hand on your head." And then..."Put your right hand on your head and your left hand on your left shoulder." or "Put your right hand on your right knee and don't put your left hand on your head." And finally, "Put your right hand on your right elbow and your left hand on your left elbow.....(yeah right Twisted Evil go ahead and try that!)
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dduck



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 265

PostPosted: Sat Nov 01, 2003 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm glad to hear you're making some progress with your students. Teaching for me is like a contract rather than being about control. Teachers, I think have to negotiate with the students how the classes are going to be. A useful part of that contract is letting the students discuss - in English as much as possible - what they actually want for their part of the deal. You could probably spend a whole lesson discussing what future lessons should be like.

An idea that comes to mind, not tried it myself yet, is to get them to practise telling jokes. I think you'd be best to introduce new vocab before starting; tell the jokes a few times; write it up; ask if they have questions. Start drilling them on it; get them to memorize lines of the joke then gradually remove the lines until nothing is left. Homework exercise is to get them to tell the jokes to other students.

Iain
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Roger



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 274

PostPosted: Sun Nov 02, 2003 12:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To actually do things and say what you are doing is a great way of lodging English permanently in the minds of young learners. I do this with Chinese primary and middle-school kids too. First thing - touch various body parts, name them and do something like "pinch my nose" "touch my shoulders", "jump" etc.
I found this not only works extremely well, it motivates kids to come to class and stay wake!

However, some of my classes number 40 and many more students. In those cases, it is a bit difficult. I walk them ou8t of the cramped classrooms and into the schoolyard - provided my superiors do not oppose this.

With college-age students (actually "adult" learners aged 2o and over!), the first thing they have to learn is to STAND UP or SIT DOWN only on cue as for example when I ask, "Do you have paper and pen? Those who DO NOT have paper and pen, please stand up!"
It took them three repetitions of these instructions the first time, before they acted accortdingly; then they laughed. Finally, I modified the instruction to say, "those who do have paper and pen, please stand up!"
It caught a few unprepared, but they now know what my instructions mean, and their reactions are spontaneous.
We must not allow our students - however "mature" they think they are! - to turn into couch potatoes (desk potatoes).
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