My day at Reading Star

So, to accurately write about work, I am sitting at my desk staring at my computer screen and my 16 different folders of classes I teach. Our workroom is quite a good size with 6 English teachers and 15 Korean teachers. There is one computer for every two people and we have been warned numerous times not to use it for personal surfing… We have a decent library with many English reading books which are pretty out of date or books that I would never recommend to elementary school readers (any elementary schools back home want to donate books? Ship them our way) we also have 8 cassette tape players for the listening speaking classes.

I am due at work by 1 and each day my schedule is different. Some days I have at most 8 classes, other days as little as 4 (which is my great Tuesdays).

The lowest level class I teach is a KE sight words class. I have two sections of them. We go through a book and each week read, read and reread a story about shoes or dogs and the kids are to memorize the stories for their test the following class. I am not sure I fully agree with the memorization technique, but that is what they do here.

1AE3 is a listening speaking class where we listen to a tape and take notes on things like telling time and the days of the week, careers and what to do on the playground. Then, I write dialogue on the board and the kids practice communicating with each other.

I teach two 1C Comprehension classes which consists of them reading short short stories out of a workbook and then memorizing them as well, just to take a quiz during the next class. I have fun listening to them read though and work on their pronunciation. V’s and R’s are very hard for them.

Then I teach 3 sections of 1E writing. These kids read a story in their reading class and then in mine we work on their vocabulary, grammar and writing book reports on the book.

I teach two 2C classes and 1 2B level class on reading which are probably some of my favorite classes. We read a non fiction and a fiction story each month and work on vocabulary and comprehension. These kids know enough English where they begin to be a bit fun.

I teach two preTOW writing classes. Our school prides ourselves on our TOW classes which stand for Top of the World. These kids are supposed to be advanced enough and the true “spirit” of what our school stands for. Teaching writing is annoying. I love it more than anything actually but their text book is brainstorm, outline, rough, final and repeated for two essays a month. There is not much time to expand on their writing and vocabulary. Although I promise this is one that I focus a lot of time on to do mini lessons to improve their skills.

PreTow reading is another story. (the older they get, the less they are camera friendly) These kids are possibly the oldest kids in the school and they are next to impossible to get to speak to me in class. I told them they make me irate and are disrespectful if I call on them or say hello and they just stare directly at me or put their heads down and ignore me. There are only 6 students, but I have two that smirk and one that spends the class talking to me so I always think I am teaching, at least a small bit.

Finally I teach two sections of TOW writing which are the top of the top. These kids know plenty of English and can read very well. The problem is every essay we write about is concerning academics, since that is the Korean way. The kids are fun and really want to do well.

I find myself giving all of my students too much slack sometimes because I feel bad about all of the hours they spend in the classroom when truth be told they have to. If they don’t they fall behind other students their age and never amount to much in the Korean eye.

Behavior among the kids isn’t bad, minus the few that don’t speak at all and the two or three that call each other names. Classes are only 40 minutes so we get down the business right away and if there is time at the end to chat we do…the more speaking the better.

Upstairs we have a cafeteria to eat. Two very nice Korean women cook for both Avalon (adam’s school) and ReadingStar. The food is always interesting and very Korean, usually spicy enough to cause us to break out into a sweat.

Downstairs, below Avalon, is Kenya Coffee where we get a decent discount and Adam and I meet for mini date’s when we both have breaks at the same time. They make the foam in the latte’s into hearts and smile faces…very creative, cute and Korean.

As for creativity and teaching methodology…kids are kids, curriculum is curriculum and English as a Second Language is much different than English as a First Language. I have come to understand that the kids need to learn to communicate first and be creative second. School is of the utmost importance here in Korea and ReadingStar is a business which helps kids learn English. So, I am doing my part to teach kids English as a communication tool and instead of expanding their creative vocabulary too much, I am working on expression and voice when they read.

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