The First Lesson

The First Lesson

So this entire week was my first week actually teaching something. The topic I chose was “Personal Information” because I thought it was important. It’s something they use every day in real life and it’s something they will need once they start ‘adulting’. It’s also something they will need to know if they ever choose to travel abroad. The lesson itself was really brief. I just focused on common personal questions, common places you would need to give or ask for this type of information, and any new vocabulary associated with all of this.

I also included a short video of a girl registering for a university class. During the registration she had to give information such as her name, phone number, address, zip code, credit card payment things, etc. For the actual activity I wanted them to take this personal information and build their own profiles about themselves. One of my co-teachers thought it might be too easy so we added a minor twist. The profile has to be about themselves ten years in the future. I thought it would be a fun activity; nothing too strenuous, the students would be using some of the new things they learned, and they could present their profiles to the class when they finished. Good plan, right?

Not really.

First off, I was not expecting the kids to struggle so darn much on creating a profile of themselves. Here is the example I gave them:


I thought it would be simple enough. Each of my three co-teachers thought this lesson was a good idea. Two out the three really loved the profile building activity. They thought it was fun and important for the students to be thinking about the future. I agreed.

But these kids struggled much more than I ever anticipated. At first I thought it was just a lack of understanding, but even when the Korean teacher translated the activity, many of the kids just sat around and stared at their blank papers or tried to get out of doing it by talking with their neighbors. They had zeerroooo idea what they wanted to do with their lives which really shocked me.

Let’s divide all my students into thirds, generally speaking. A third of them wanted to be CEO’s or some other type of profession that would make them tons of money. Another third, needed help coming up with anything at all, but once I started naming things like singer, designer, doctor, dancer, teacher, etc. they would then go “yes, yes! I be singer!” or whatever other profession I named that caught their interest. And finally, the last third of students actually had no idea what they wanted. Naming different professions didn’t help. Asking their friends what they wrote down didn’t help. Asking them what they actually liked to do didn’t help. Nothing. Even when I told them to just make it up! Nothing. They could not see themselves doing anything past studying in high school and that surprised me.

There were a select few students that didn’t even try to complete the activity because they were either 1) sleeping or 2) taking it as a joke. These kids, I would give my dirtiest look to and not even try to take their papers while I collected everyone else’s. Some didn’t care while others clearly looked very guilty. But at least these were the minority. The kids who sleep or take my class as a joke won’t be feeling very confident when the time comes for the speaking test that they have to take given by yours truly. And no, I will not take it easy on them.

I am currently working on my second lesson plan. Even with the help of the internet, I take way too long making lessons. I just really want to keep class somewhat interesting and I want the stuff I am teaching to be useful to them and prepare them for their final oral exam with me. I can’t stop every kid from sleeping or having that glazed, far way look on their faces but I can at least do my best.

I’ve already made a connection with a couple of students who come in the office and speak with me even though their English level is close to non-existent. We just resort to saying random Korean and English words, lots of charades, and then finally typing things into Papago Naver Translate, lol. But hey! At least we are communicating.

I have the entire weekend to make my next lesson plan (yes, I have been lesson planning at home). I just hope it proves to go smoother than the last one, even if just by a little bit.

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