The information below is from a selection of writings in an orientation program I wrote and put together.
There are probably a few things that need to be added, but I think that most of the big things are here.
And again, if you copy this and use it please cite the source: Jason Ryan.
Extra English Conversation Classes: Setting them up; Mixed levels; Getting paid; class size limits and levels of students in the class.
Some native teachers are approached within the first couple of days/weeks at their school to teach extra classes for extra pay, and other teachers have to ask about it. If you ask and are told that it isn’t possible at your home school, ask your co-teacher to ask the vice-principal if other nearby schools might be interested. Do not be afraid to push a little for your co-teacher to ask as they may say it is impossible, but since they have probably not actually asked the vice principal, they don’t really know if it’s possible or not—be polite, but also be assertive.
Usually extra classes are set up as a 20 class course. You will teach the same group of students for 20 classes. Once the set of 20 is finished, then a new group may be set up if there are enough students interested in the next course, and their schedules don't conflict with the time it is set up. Be prepared for some students to sign up again, and to have new students sign up, so that the class is a mix of old and new/first time students. This will mean that you cannot use the same lesson plans again, and will need to write/make new lessons, or use a different lesson plan book. You will also likely be asked to submit 20 lesson plans, and any handouts you make, for paperwork. Keep a file on your computer with the lessons, or a binder with the lesson plans and handouts. This will save you a lot of time later on, sometimes months after the 20 class course is done, when you are asked to produce the lessons and you didn't keep things organized in a file on your computer or in a binder.
Remind the co-teacher when setting up extra classes that you are not committing to a whole year of extra classes. Send this to them in an email. This way you have the time and date on record for when you told them. If you decide that the extra classes are too big a drain on your energy, and perhaps even your health, you can dig up the email as a reminder when pressure is being applied for you to be available again for more classes. You should complete the 20 class course, though, if you committed to doing one set of twenty classes.
Tell your co-teacher that you need to see how it goes as this is your first time doing extra classes. If you do not sign an extra classes contract, and they do not ask you specifically to do them for the whole year, then you have not made a verbal agreement or commitment to do the extra classes all year. The regular contract says that extra classes are VOLUNTARY; remind your co-teachers of this contractual detail. But be aware that in Korean cultural thinking (I’m generalizing) there is this kind of expectation that if you were willing to do it for a set of 20 classes once, why not all year long . . . sometimes the "spirit" of the contract is not the same as the actual fine print . . . This is a kind of ‘ignorance-trap’ that I fell into when I began teaching. You DO NOT HAVE TO DO THEM if you don't want to do them. Extra classes are voluntary on the native teacher's part, and if you get too tired from working your 22 regular classes and doing lesson preparation, or think it's not worth your time--say no politely, and show your co-teacher the contract and politely remind them that it does not say native teachers MUST do extra classes all year, and that it is not mandatory to do them.
During my first year in Korea, I did my 22 classes per week at 3 different middle schools; I also, before I had any clue about what it involved in terms of time, energy, lesson planning, and teaching, agreed to teach extra classes at an elementary school, three middle schools, and an all girls high school. The grand total of classes skyrocketed to 34 a week (including my contract 22). Add to the mix travel time between schools, and lesson preparation time, and my Monday to Friday averaged about 55-60 hours of working time. I would strongly recommend any and all new native English teachers to not exceed 30 classes per week as a total. You risk burning out fast, and getting sick, when you exceed 30 classes, plus add on top any travel time, and lesson preparation time for those classes--things add up fast.
Some things to consider when creating an extra English Conversation Class (and which new teachers often miss thinking about, and Korean teachers also do not mention or consider) are:
1. Mixing the levels/grades of the students in the class. If it is possible, DO NOT MIX levels. If that is not possible, DO NOT mix all three levels/grades of students in the school (levels 1 and 2, or levels 2 and 3, if you must do it, but never mix 1 and 3).
I was given an extra-conversation class that had all three levels of students in my middle school. And within each of those levels, there were strong, average, and weak students. Essentially, I was given a class with students ranging from the weakest 1st grade students in the middle school, to the strongest 3rd grade student—and nobody (the Korean English teachers putting the list of students together) blinked an eye when they put that list of names together for my class . . . sigh.
2. Consider the number of students in a class that you teach ALONE. I think that 20 students is a good MAXIMUM number for an extra English conversation class. A single teacher can manage that many on their own, but more than that and things begin to get difficult. Also, the 20 students will be students that want to be there (generally), and behaviour management issues will be easier than in your regular classes.
Smaller numbers than 20 are not likely to be set up as the cost is higher for the students and they won’t sign up. Some students will be in the class because their parents want them to do the class, and that translates into a motivation issue for the student and teacher in learning English, but most students will be there because they have an interest in learning English. 10-12 students is the ideal size, but may not be possible for different reasons.
3. Another thing to consider is time of day. Watch out for being asked to stay late at night when your 8 hour work day finishes around 4:40-5pm. I agreed to do an evening extra class before asking about what time it was scheduled for—5:35pm to 6:25pm. This meant that even though I could leave my school for the day at 4:45pm, that I had to wait at the school an extra 45 minutes every day, five days a week, until the extra class start time of 5:35pm. The waiting time adds up, believe me.
And then I also didn’t consider how finishing an extra class at 6:25pm meant that I would not finish tidying up the classroom, dropping off my teaching supplies at my desk, and then travel time to get home . . . I had committed myself to most of my evening being destroyed five days a week. I would not get home until 6:45pm, and by the time I had eaten dinner most of the evening was gone.
Early morning (before school) start times have their own set of issues. Student motivation and learning capabilities are fairly low early in the morning. They are still waking up, and their energy levels and mental alertness will be very low. These things have to be considered in the kind of teaching style you choose to do at that time of day, i.e. 7:50am to 8:40am. And you, as the teacher, will probably need to be in the school at least 20 minutes before the class begins to set up your lesson, and do any prep that needs to be done for that class. This means your work day starts at 7:20am, and you may be giving yourself a very long work day—some people are okay with that, but for others it is too much, and their teaching and motivation levels are impacted by fatigue.
NOTE: Do not agree to do extra classes until you know the following details (also, be wary of how much you trust the answers you are given to these questions--too often I've had things glossed over and given a rosy shine so that I'd agree to what the speaker wanted me to do): class size, levels of students, whether the class will be mixed levels or not, start and finish times for each class, how often each week (i.e. three times a week, or once a week), confirm the pay rate is what your contract says it should be, confirm a pay date for when you finish the set of 20 classes, and politely explain that you will expect pay no later than 2 weeks past the last day of teaching that completes the 20 classes, confirm that whoever will pay your fee has your banking information, find out WHERE (what classroom) you will be teaching in, make sure that the teacher planning the 20 classes' dates and times has factored in all of the test/picnic/festival/national holidays, and also find out a rough idea of how many weeks/months it will take to complete the 20 classes and then decide if the money is worth waiting that long.
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