Monday, March 2, 2009

8 Tips for Foreign English Instructors Co-teaching with a Korean English Teacher

During my time in the public school system I decided that somebody in my province needed to take the initiative and develop orientation and training materials for new and veteran foreign English instructors AND Korean English co-teachers.
The material below is from a handout that I made for a 3 hour orientation seminar I designed and gave several times to large groups of new foreign teachers, and once during a teaching workshop put on by the provincial education office and city hall in the province where I was teaching.

Seeing as this is the time of year where newbies (aka new foreign teachers) leave their orientations and walk into a Korean language learning classroom for the first time I thought it might be good to post this and hope it helps somebody navigate their way through classes with co-teachers when neither of them have had any formal system of co-teaching methodology instruction, etc.
All too often I've heard, personally and from other foreign teachers, of the ridiculously idealized orientation content that Korean co-teachers will "always" help design lesson plans, and that foreign instructors will "always" have a co-teacher with them in the classroom to help them teach. Veterans of the public education system know the reality, but I haven't really seen or heard anything put together about co-teaching methodology specific to the realities and challenges that foreign English teachers face on a daily basis in Korea.
By putting this on the Internet I fully realize that people will likely copy it and use it. I would hope that anyone who does will cite JASON RYAN as the author of this material. I don't mind if you use it, or adapt it and make it your own--but please cite the original source.

Co-teaching and Teacher Roles

Generally speaking the native teacher will be responsible for designing and writing lesson plans and handouts. Korean English teachers have an enormous workload, and it is not realistic or practical to ask them to participate in lesson planning and designing unless they volunteer to do so.

Also, expect to do a lot of demonstrating and modeling of the teaching styles and methods that you have experienced in your home country, and that you may have training in from your university, or specialized courses like TEFL, TESL, TESOL, and CELTA.
Cultural Lessons
In cultural lessons, for example “Halloween,” often, the Korean English teacher will also be your student. Expecting them to actively co-teach when they are learning the material at the same time is not realistic. After your co-teacher has absorbed the material, and discussed it with you, they can then take a more active co-teaching role if they (and you) feel they understand the material.

Reading and Writing Lessons
If you choose to do a reading and/or writing lesson this is a time when your co-teacher will likely take a much more active role in the co-teaching dynamic.

NOTE: Teaching writing is a complex task for new teachers to attempt. If you design a lesson for your students I highly recommend trying to find some time BEFORE CLASS, in fact, the week before you will actually teach the lesson, and go over it with your co-teacher. Be open to suggestions about what might be improved or changed.
Game/Activity Focused Lessons

Korean English teachers generally do not get many chances to use games or activities in their classrooms. They have to be careful with time management, and covering the required materials that students will be tested on. This usually means that there is little time for integrating a game or activity into the lesson plan. However, there are some Korean teachers who do use games and activities in their lesson plans.

So, with this in mind remember that you will need to explain clearly and carefully what the rules of the game/activity are, and how to do it. Your co-teacher will need to have a complete understanding of the game/activity, and how to teach it, and what students need to know and be helped with, before they can co-teach with you. Simply put, until your co-teacher has seen you demonstrate how to teach the game, play the game, and and what English language you have to use for all of these things--do not expect them to actively engage in the co-teaching process unless you EXPLICITLY ask them to do something simple and small (and even then it may not be possible).
Top 8
Co-teaching Tips

Remember . . .
  • Every native English teacher is different.
  • Every Korean English teacher is different.
  • Every school and classroom has different conditions.
  • Therefore being flexible, and adapting to the realities of your school and classroom conditions, is necessary for success.

Tip #1
Classroom Behaviour Control
The native English teacher and the Korean English teacher should work together to maintain order in the classroom while teaching.
DESK PLAN: Arranging the classroom desks in different formations can aid in behaviour management.
PROXIMITY: The KET or NET can move to stand near or next to a student/s that are not paying attention, talking, or being disruptive.
- Moving students to a different seat.
- Separating problem students/groups.
- Moving students to sit at the front of the class.
- Pairing strong and weak English students.
Tip #2
Translator Role
Many native teachers try to explain, demonstrate, and model the English they are teaching for a class. If the students do not understand the English after attempting different things the Korean English teacher can then translate the English into Korean for the students.

Sometimes asking one of the gifted students to translate the English into Korean also works very well. It gets the students participating in the learning process. And the way that a student will explain the English is sometimes more easily understood by the rest of the class. The student uses ideas and language speaking styles that Korean teachers do not use. Ask the Korean teacher to monitor what the student says to make sure it is accurate and that nothing is missed or lost in translation.

Tip #3
Board work

The native English teacher, or the Korean English teacher, can do board work while the other is teaching.
Korean English teachers will already be experienced with how to teach English using the whiteboard or chalkboard in your classroom. Ask them to write out vocabulary and definitions, key expressions, cultural ideas, and other things that students need to see on the board.

Tip #4
Vocabulary and Conversation Drills
Repetition drills are something that all Korean English teachers do extremely well. Ask your Korean co-teacher to run vocabulary/speaking drills while the native English teacher monitors/listens for things that need correcting.
If the co-teacher is shy about modeling pronunciation in front of the students then be patient and understanding. Many, if not all, Korean English teachers do not like making mistakes in English when they are in front of 35-40 Korean students. No one likes to be embarrassed in front of large groups of people. It takes a special kind of courage in Korea to not be worried about making mistakes in front of students when you are a Korean teacher.
Tip #5
Coaching/Supervising Pair/Group Work/Activities and Games.
The native English teacher gives instructions 2-3 times. A demonstration/modeling of the activity/handout work/game is done for students. And if necessary the Korean English teacher can translate the instructions.
The Korean English teacher, if they are comfortable with the situation and English, can give the second or third repetition of the instructions if possible. Another option is also asking one of the more talented English students to translate, with the Korean teacher monitoring what is said for any mistakes.

Tip #6
Role-plays and Demonstrating Worksheets/Activities/Games

When teaching a role-play situation in English the native English teacher can speak and demonstrate/model the English the first time for the Korean English teacher and the class. Sometimes, depending on lesson timings, the native English teacher and Korean English teacher can do a second demonstration with each taking a role in the dialogue. Waiting for the second time allows the Korean teacher to hear the pronunciation and other elements that they may not be sure of about the dialogue and cultural behaviour rules for the situation.

Also consider asking one of the gifted English students to do a demonstration of the dialogue and role-play. Or, get two students to do a demonstration.

NOTE: Keep the student demonstrations open to any volunteers. Sometimes students are weak in English in one topic or situation, and are strong in another. Also, after some time has passed and students grow more comfortable different students may volunteer who have never done so before. If you always choose the same “gifted” students the other students will never volunteer or try to do something different.

Tip #7
Instructions for Handouts/Games/Activities
Before the class begins, or while students are coming into the room and sitting down, go over the instructions for the lesson handout/game/activity. When teaching the lesson for the first time you will likely be the one doing most of the instruction, but later on in the week if you are teaching the same lesson again with the same co-teacher you can ask them to do this task as it should be familiar for them. It is probably a good idea to have the instructions written out in the lesson plan so that the Korean English teacher has something to refer to if they need it.
NOTE: You should demonstrate how to give the instructions, or demonstration, before asking your co-teacher to do it.

Tip #8
Take turns being the
Stage Leader in a Lesson

Native English Teacher
Korean English Teacher
Native English Teacher
Korean English Teacher
Native English Teacher
Korean English Teacher

1 comment:

Jiyun said...

Thank you for your helpfup advices. I am Korean English teacher and now work with a native English teacher. We always respect each other and try to work together. The good relationship between two teachers seems to be a key to a successful team teaching.