Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Video English in the classroom

If anyone is curious what video English classes with native speakers from overseas (in this case, the US) look like, Newsis posted photos of Monday's demonstration class at Maetan Middle School in Suwon yesterday. The subject of the class, Newsis tells us, was 'doenjang jjigae.'

 From here.

  From here.

"With your neighbor make a list of your favorite kinds of Kimchi. Can you describe each one?"

  From here.

  From here.

 From here.

"What is one way that makes Doenjang Jjigae healthier? It acts as an anti-cancer agent."

One wonders how these overseas teachers are recruited and whether they even know anything about Korean food. Foreign teachers who are actually present in schools in Korea would at least be familiar with Korean food (via the school lunches, at the very least). That Korean school textbooks have lots of Korea-related content is, of course, unsurprising, but I get the feeling some of the textbooks are aimed at 'educating' the foreign teachers who might be using them. In particular the 천재교육 grade 6 English textbook has a unit titled, I kid you not, 'How do you say it in Korean?' which seems to be aimed at educating the foreign teachers about bulgogi, hanbok, yunnori, ssireum, and  gayageum. Or perhaps that's just a side perk, and the main idea is to teach students how to act as missionaries in order to effectively spread and teach Korean culture to foreigners.

At any rate, I'm just thinking out loud about how these video teachers experience their classes, and in particular what it's like teaching classes that focus on a culture they may know little to nothing about (unlike foreign teachers who are in-country, who, whether they want to or not, get a crash course in the culture). Are there any readers out there who have taught these classes? I get the feeling they're rather scripted, with little margin for improvisation or injecting their own personalities into the lessons.


S said...

I've been teaching at the online English center (our video call center) in Gwangju for two years this summer, after two years of classroom teaching. If you are curious about what we do I'd be more than happy to fill you in. Our center is a model center, employing EPIK teachers, but the company in that article is largely based on what we have developed.

This particular lesson was probably prepared by the Korean coteacher and the foreign teacher, who is a former EPIK teacher of three years. Many of the best online teachers have EPIK experience but have moved home for family or personal reasons.

Feel free to contact me, I'd love to tell you all about it. It's a fantastic job and I'm proud of the work we do.

matt said...

I'd like to learn more, but I'm not sure how to contact you. If you could email me (mattvanv at yahoo dot com) that'd be great.

S said...

I sent you an email yesterday... did it get caught in a spam filter?

Caroline said...

I actually happen to be one of the teachers that works in this program. I taught in Korea for two years before coming back and finding this opportunity. And I also happen to know the teacher who taught this class and he also worked in Korea for a number of years.

Our lesson plans allow for just as much "injection of personality" as the classes that take place in Korea.

And this sort of teaching takes an extra degree of commitment because we have to teach at crazy hours.