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Hello Teaching Terms!

January 11, 2010

So, I guess being here awhile, I forget that the words I use everyday for school and life don’t exactly translate for my family and friends back home. I’ll just go through a few.

English Zone – Every public school in Seoul is supposed to have a room dedicated to the sole purpose of advancing students’ English abilities. The one at my school is going to be filled with books, computers, English posters, a giant touch screen computer and several whiteboards along with new furniture – all attributes lacking in most other classrooms in the school. In a perfect world, when inside the classroom, students must speak English at all times or engage in some kind of English language study. But, being the nicest room in the building currently, I suspect it’ll turn into a hang out during recess and briefly afterschool.

Hagwon/Private school/Academy – More school after school which probably started as optional for students but gradually came to be mandatory for any student who wants to go to a good university. Curricula in these places is just grueling and I know that many of my students don’t do well with it. The homework more than triples what I have ever given and the assignments are really ludicrous. The same students who struggle to read a book I read in elementary school (Sideways Stories from Wayside School), are expected to read excerpts from The Lord of the Rings and complete essays on metaphors. It might be a bit obvious that I disapprove of these places. The curricula is one thing but the outrageous cost and stress caused to students (which tends to make them just cheat on assignments) are really just the icing on the cake.

Winter Camp – Students here have winter vacation and are expected to study for most of it. Most students in the area go to two schools during their winter vacation: winter camp at public school where they can enjoy a more lax curriculum but are still expected to read and write and usually private school where the curriculum is as rigorous as during the school year. Maybe half of my students in winter camp rush out of class to make it to their private school to take a test, write some essay or finish some homework. From what I can tell, winter camps are leveled classes in either math or English. Winter camp is not just for failing or behind students, in my class I have two fluent English speakers (they lived in America and Canada) and other advanced students. In the next level class, I have students who struggle to read. There are 14 students per winter camp class, there are 40 students per regular school year class. Guess which one I prefer.

Afterschool Class – If students are unable to attend private school after regular school or need something to fill the time gap, then they stay in an afterschool program with me. I can teach whatever I want because there’s no book or co-teacher. Last semester, I worked on parts of speech with students and this semester I’m having students prepare two stories on a single topic in an interview sort of format. After school classes tend to be small so I can watch documentaries with the students and have a discussion. There are usually about 6 to 8 students per class.

Well, that’s all I can think of for now. I’m off to 6 hours of various reading shenanigans.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. GEORGE BENTLEY permalink
    January 12, 2010 3:03 am

    Thanks for explaining the teaching terms.

    Jean Bentley

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