Friday, December 13, 2013

Reflections on the 2013 School Year 1

Exams have concluded today and we’re entering the last days of the school year. The year concludes on 27 December, so we’ve about two weeks left before the winter classes begin. The regular year is, for all intents and purposes, over. We still have more classes to do, but they’ve already been planned out, so I’ve more some time to relax and stretch out. Hence, this post and a future series of posts reflecting on how the 2013 school year went down. Here’s the beginning:

Favorite lessons/activities:

l       The Price is Right--the students had great fun guessing prices of various items we learned about. It also provided an excellent review of money and numbers. The teams liked competing with each other for the closest price as well.
l       The hotel and airplane tickets roleplays--The students enjoyed walking around making their various plans with people. They got to do some real life English as well as practice activities they'll likely do as adults. As reading's been called an "imaginative rehearsal" for real life, so to are the role plays.
l       Battleship--The activity does take some time to explain, but the students understood it after a couple of tries. The game's format lends itself to repetition, so students get plenty of practice with variations on a speaking point without wearing the point out. The students also had fun guessing where the ships were.
l       Board games--UpWords and Scrabble. The games allowed the students to use their repertoire of English words in a fun context. To keep track of the words, they wrote words that they played on a handout and turned them in for my review.

What else went well? Why?

l       Anything I mentioned about America. The students are hungry for knowledge about my home country as well as the chance to compare Korea to other countries. The students delighted in hearing about how it’s possible to vote, buy rifles, and smoke cigarettes at age 18.*

l       The notebooks and the bringing of materials.I've written about this before—at the beginning, it felt like moving mountains get the students to remember that yes,this is class, and yes, you will bring your materials with you, but theydid get the message. Soon over 80% were bringing books, notebooks, and pencils to class and we began taking notes in earnest. Some grumbled at this, but it was the next step after brining the stuff to class. (Many did see the value, though) The note-taking part’s still being worked on, but the students are starting to see that yes, they need to write stuff down from time to time. Writing helps, interestingly enough, with the hallowed study method of memorization. It’s funny how students will copy words and sentences for pages, but writing stuff that appears on the board is forgotten much of the time here. Oh well…one more thing to work on next semester.

*They couldn’t believe it was possible to own a gun while still in high school. And as someone who turned 18 just before senior year began, it is a strange thing to think about. The Korean students can’t drive, smoke, or vote until age 19, which means after they’ve finished high school. What a contrast to America—driving is high school for a good chunk of the population, for better or worse.

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