This week our DESK group started working at the school for North Korean refugees here in Seoul. Unlike the first month of teaching, we are no longer teaching children. Instead, we are dealing with a new dynamic where many of our students are in fact our age or even older. Ranging from 15 to 33, the students definitely don’t respond to our lesson plans from last month.
New Lesson Plan
Instead of focusing on animals, shapes, and emotions, our classes consist of reading comprehension and speaking skills. My first class, affectionately named Reading Club, is just me and ten students. That is another big difference: we are no longer together for every class. Our first period is one teacher in every class, and in our second and third periods we split into three groups. My first day by myself was incredibly nerve-wracking. How was I supposed to teach them anything when I couldn’t even talk to them?
It turns out, it was a lot easier than I expected. My students are forgiving of my language barrier and it makes for a fun and lighthearted environment when your teacher makes mistakes. I start with short paragraphs that have sequence of events and ends with a question about the meaning of the paragraphs. To make sure the paragraphs are understood, I put key words with their Korean meaning on the back (thank you Naver Translator) and ask follow up questions throughout the readings. I even mime out meanings or draw on the board. It feels a little silly in the moment, but when my students understand the material better AND laugh? That makes me feel really good.
Fun and Games
What is actually really fun about the class is when we finish the readings and have some left over time. That is when we play games. No, we don’t play Hot Potato or 4 Corners, but we do play games that make them use their comprehension skills. Let’s say I want to the extent of their English vocabulary. On the board, after I have them put their heads down and split into teams, I write a sentence with some hard but mime-able vocabulary. The first team to stand up gets a point and the next day I bring a prize to the winning team. I did not realize how much they would like the game, and how much they would love participating.
On a Side Note
This weekend I had the opportunity to go to an Exhibition of Super Junior, one of my favorite bands. Melody and I went and I got to see a lot of pictures of Yesung, my favorite member of the band. It was really fun and I am so glad I had that experience.