How to Speak English to Korean Students (and Teachers)

korean-student-elementary-3Living abroad, and more specifically teaching English in South Korea is all about expansion and improvement. That is, if you want it to be. One thing is for sure for every person who travels abroad to teach ESL in a foreign country – you’re going to learn about acculturation and it’s 4 stages. You’ve likely heard of them before, but never associated them with a big, fancy term like ACCULTURATION!

The four stages are commonly known as the “Honeymoon” stage, the “Hostility” stage, the “Humor” stage, and the “Home” stage. They are pretty easy to understand, and since this isn’t some linguistics blog, let’s just say that from the time you get to where you’re going to when you leave, you’re gonna love it, then hate it, then make light of it all, then feel like it’s home.

One of the biggest things a person can do to improve their time abroad is to communicate with and befriend some natives. It’s also very enriching to build meaningful, nurturing relationships with your students. One thing will help make these more productive and lasting in the end and that’s how well you communicate with them.

korean-student-elementary-2This is not a blog post about how you should go learn the native language of the country in which you’re teaching. I’m talking about speaking ENGLISH with them. I bet you weren’t expecting that.

When you encounter people in your day to day life that exhibit some English speaking skills, you owe it to them to work with them just for putting in the effort. The way you communicate with them in English will signal to them a sense of mutual respect.

The same goes with your students. Most students you will be teaching will have a limited command of speaking English. It will be a challenge to learn how to communicate with students both in and out of class.

korean-student-elementary-1Let’s get back to the 4 stages of acculturation. If you become frustrated and choose not to take those extra steps to reach your students or people in social settings – they will close off to you. It may be subtle, maybe not so subtle. Turn things around for a moment and imagine you’re learning a new language that you feel very insecure about and then you encounter a native speaker. WHAM – pucker effect engaged. If that native speaker seems short, uninterested, bored, or impatient with you, you will possibly feel like you are doing a horrible job.  You just may close up.

If that same speaker smiles and works patiently with you, you’re going to feel better about the whole ordeal.

In this vlog I talk about some ways to speak to students in class, and why our presence in the classroom as ESL teachers is so critical to student learning.

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