Thursday, April 22, 2010

Teaching English to Koreans if you don't know Korean? Psst- there's a formula!

How are you going to teach English to Koreans if you don't know the language?
This was the question I got from many friends and family just before leaving for Korea.

"I dunno?" was my answer.

Somehow, I had faith there'd be something in the EPIK process, allowing me to teach English in a way my Korean students to understand. New to teaching and teaching abroad in a country where I didn't know the language, the obvious question to ask is-- how you will communicate with your Korean students? It's not terribly difficult. The good news: 

There's a Formula to Teaching in a Korean public school:

1) There's a national curriculum and many (but not all) public schools teach from the same or similar textbook.

The video below is from a Listen and Repeat section for Grade 3: Lesson: Happy BirthdayIt's not the same "actors" as in my school's textbook but its the same lesson, character names and dialogue.

2) Every school seemingly teaches the same lesson at the same pace.

  Most of Korea is now probably on a Lesson 12 in their textbooks, for 3rd grade, 4th, 5th & 6th as I type.

3) Textbook Format: There are 4 sections to one lesson.
As a general guideline, this is the structure I've broken down so you can easily follow:

Section a) Introduction NEW VOCABULARY & EXPRESSIONS of the lesson.


Section c) Learn to READ & WRITE the words and expressions

Section d) Review

(a- Look & Listen, Listen & Repeat, b- Chant/Song,  c-Read & Write/Roleplay,  d-Review)

Resources for Lesson Plans: is a great site that has the textbook flashcard (covering lessons #1-8 for grades 3rd-6th. is my most favorite site for lesson plans and ideas for many grade levels. It usually also has a rolling list of lessons as they come out in the classroom, as every school teaches the same lesson at the same pace.

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