Lesson Higher TEFL

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This is how our TEFL graduates feel they have gained from their course, and how they plan to put into action what they learned:

C.T. - Korea said:
Problems for English Learners in korea There are a variety of problems facing language learners in korea. In the course of this paper I will avoid discussing the obvious issues, such as the "L/R" pronunciation problem that is typical of Asian students, and focus on further reaching ones. The issues I intend to address are cultural and institutional. That is to say, that korean culture and the education system itself presents a unique set of problems for language learners in this country. korea spends a huge amount of money on Private English education, according to a report published in the korea Times, the Ministry of Education, Science and technology said private English language education reached 15 trillion won in 2009.(1) More than 90 percent of elementary school students receive private English education in korea. Elementary school students begin studying English in the second grade, however it is common for students to attend English speaking kindergartens, and later private language institutes or 'hagwons'. Competition for University entrance is fierce in korea, and a large percentage of the household budget is set aside for private education. This then, is the first challenge for korean language students. They begin studying at a young age for a purpose. The purpose is not to gain fluency in English, but rather to gain high marks in a standardised test of English ability. Private institutions , or 'hagwons' have been specifically designed to teach students how to take the test, rather than how to communicate effectively in English. However, the report continues to say that korean students' average overall TOEFL score stood at 78 out of 120, placing the country 89th out of 161 nations. Perhaps the most disturbing statistic is that korean test takers were ranked 136th in their speaking skills. The only area where they beat the global average of 19.4 was in the reading section. It is clear that despite the huge amount spent, korean students are failing and this may be, in part, linked to culture. korean culture is rooted in Confucianism and classes are dominated by the teacher. There is little to no chance for interaction. In my second year in korea I began studying korean in order to take the TOPIK exam (Test of Proficiency in korean). The class was completely teacher centred, and the test itself consisted of reading, writing and listening. There was no provision at all for speaking. While I managed to pass the exam I certainly didn't feel proficient in korean. This sentiment has been echoed by my adult students have relayed their experiences learning English from Elementary to High School. They had no opportunity to speak in an English Class. The only area they felt comfortable in was reading, which is reflected in the TOEFL test scores. I currently teach both credit and non-credit courses at my University. My non-credit conversation class is currently made up of government officials. Each student has a high TOEIC score, which was required by their department. However, all students, by their own admission, lack competency in conducting a conversation in English. They are not in my class to study English, but rather to put into practice what they already know. During the first week each student would spend a long time constructing a grammatically perfect sentence in their head before speaking. It was my task to encourage them to stop trying to 'save face' and simply speak, by creating a relaxed atmosphere where everyone was equal as a student. There is a social hierarchy based on age and position, so 'senior' members were reluctant to make errors in front of their juniors. In order to be an effective teacher in korea, one must be aware of the issues facing students and take measures to address them. korean students are not shyer than students from other cultures, but are simply behaving in the manner deemed appropriate for the classroom. It is up to the teacher to create an atmosphere in a conversation class where students do not wait to be called upon to answer, but feel engaged and comfortable enough to participate. Teachers are also tasked with motivating the students to gain fluency, rather than a high score in a standardised exam. I'm sure if a majority of the teachers currently working in South korea took this approach, then korea's TOEFL scores would improve as a by-product, rather than the sole aim, of English study. (1) koreans Ranked Bottom in English Proficiency Test By Kang Shin-who 4/1/2009 (korea Times)

 

 

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