High school English teaching in South Korea

Occasionally, I attempt to tidy up the documents folder of my computer, to delete duplicate or otherwise redundant files and  consolidate similar files. On one such attempt today I found a folder of files I created while I was teaching at a government high school in South Korea in 2008-09. The first semester was very difficult. Having taught at an adult language academy for 18 months, I over-estimated the language level of the first- and second-year high school students. In the second semester, I started again from scratch. One of the documents in the folder is a summary I made for the last lesson of the semester, which I present here with a few details edited to preserve anonymity and a few comments added.

This semester, we learned about:

meeting someone for the first time
Hello.
I’m pleased to meet you. or It’s nice to meet you. 
I’m pleased to meet you, too. or It’s nice to meet you, too. or You, too.
What’s your name? My name’s _ _ _.
What should I call you? 
Please call me _ _.

being polite
Please.
Thank you. 
You’re welcome.
Excuse me.
Sorry. 
That’s okay.

saying goodbye
Have a nice day. 
You, too.
Goodbye.

and in class
Be quiet. Learn English. 
We will be quiet. We will learn English.

seeing someone again
Hello, (name).
I’m pleased to see you. or It’s nice to see you. 
I’m pleased to see you, too. or It’s nice to see you, too. or You, too.
How are you? 
I’m (fine), thank you. And you? [This is the first English sentence that Koreans learn. I banned the word ‘fine’ and attempted to get them to say any other more interesting word. I failed. At one time I attended a one-day workshop for foreign high school English teachers in that province. The coordinator of the English program walked onto the stage and said to several hundred foreign high school English teachers, ‘Good morning, how are you?’. Several hundred foreign high school English teachers said, ‘I’m fine, thank you. And you?’.]

asking for and giving more personal information
Where were you born? 
I was born in _.
Where do you live? 
I live in _(-dong). [A dong is a suburb.]
Where do you go to school? 
I go to [name] Information Industry High School.

a person or people 
or a place or places 
or a thing or things
Who is this person? or Who is this? Who are these people? or Who are these? 
This is David Beckham. He is a soccer player.
Where is this place? or Where is this? Where are these places? or Where are these? 
This is Namsan tower. I have been there.
What is this thing? or What is this? What are these things? or What are these? 
This is a mugunghwa. It is a flower. [It is the national flower.]

describing people
Sang-ho is tall. I am average height. Eun-ju is short.
Eun-ju is good at English. I am average at English. [ha!] Sang-ho is bad at English.
Sang-ho is handsome. Eun-ju is beautiful. I am average looking. My brother is ugly. [I can safely say that – IRL I don’t have a brother.]

comparing people
I am taller than Eun-ju. I am shorter than Sang-ho.
I am not the tallest person in the class. Sang-ho is the tallest person in the class.
I am not the shortest person in the class. Eun-ju is the shortest person in the class.
I am better at English than Sang-ho. I am worse at English than Eun-ju.
I am not the best at English in the class. Eun-ju is the best at English in the class.
I am not the worst at English in the class. Sang-ho is the worst at English in the class.
I am less handsome than Sang-ho. I am more beautiful than Eun-ju.
I am not the most handsome person in the class. Sang-ho is the most handsome person in the class.
Eun-ju is not the most beautiful person in the class. I am the most beautiful person in the class! [ha!]

telling about people
This is Mr [name].
He is Australian.
He is handsome.
He is a teacher.
He is an Australian teacher.
He is an English teacher. [these two work better in Korean – in fact I think I added Korean to one document. ‘He is an Australian teacher’ is literally ‘He is an Australia person teacher and ‘He is an English teacher’ is ‘He is an English language teacher’]
He is a handsome, Australian English teacher.
He is the most handsome, intelligent, patient, kind and modest [no-one got that] teacher at [name] Information Industry High School.
He is the only foreign English teacher at [name] Information Industry High School.

things we do every day
What do you do before school? I eat breakfast before school.
What does Eun-ju do before school? She eats breakfast before school.
What do you do after school? I study at the library after school.
What does Sang-ho do before school? He studies at the library after school.
What do you do on Saturdays?  I go hiking on Saturdays.
What does Eun-ju do on Saturdays? She goes hiking on Saturdays.
What do you do on Sundays? I relax at home on Sundays.
What does Sang-ho do on Sundays? He relaxes at home on Sundays.
What do you do during vacations? I do my part-time job during vacations.
What does Sang-ho do during vacations? He does his part-time job during vacations. [note the variety of 3sg ‘s’ inflections: eat + s, study > i + es, go + es, relax + es (extra syllable) and do + es (change of pronunciation)]

things we did “before now”
What did you do before this class? I studied in the library before this class.
What did Eun-ju do before this class? She talked to So-eun before this class.
What did you do before school?  I ate breakfast with my family before school.
What did Sang-ho do before school? He drank orange juice at the convenience store before school.
What did you do last night?  I went to the English academy last night.
What did Eun-ju do last night? She used my computer to do her homework last night.
What did you do last weekend?  I relaxed at home last weekend.
What did Sang-ho do last weekend? He stopped smoking last weekend.
What did you do last vacation?  I did my part-time job last vacation.
What did Eun-ju do last vacation? She played computer games all day last vacation.

things we are going to do “after now”
What are you going to do after this class?  I am going to listen to my mp3 player after this class.
What is Eun-ju going to do after this class? She is going to wash her hands and face after this class.
What are you going to do after school?  I am going to watch tv after school.
What is Sang-ho going to do after school? He is going to buy his mother a birthday present after school.
What are you going to do tomorrow?  I am going to come to school (as usual) tomorrow.
What is Eun-ju going to do tomorrow? She is going to take a TOEIC test tomorrow.
What are you going to do next weekend?  I am going to have my hair cut next weekend.
What is Sang-ho going to do next weekend? He is going to sleep all day next weekend.
What are you going to do next year?  I am going to learn Japanese next year.
What is Eun-ju going to do next year? She is going to be class captain next year.

It was easier to use ‘Sang-ho’ and ‘Eun-ju’ as example names each time rather than think of new names. Sang-ho was one of my most advanced and certainly one of my most diligent students at the adult language academy. Eun-ju was a student for about one month; I’m not sure why I chose her name. She always sat next to So-Eun, although they didn’t know each other. One day I greeted one ‘Good morning, So-ju’. Soju is the local liqueur.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s