Must have desk items as a teacher in Korea

As a teacher in Korea, if you have your own personal desk you may be wondering what will be useful during your time in Korea. I will focus on not office supplies, like pencils, post it notes, etc. here, but rather peripherals you should consider.

Most of these items are related to comfort. You will find quickly that when the seasons are at their peak (summer/winter) your personality will alter if you are uncomfortable (sweating/freezing). Do yourself a favor for your psyche and your students and invest in comfort items.

The other items are related to productivity and organization. Remember, an organized teacher, is a happy teacher.

  • pop_digital07.jpgWireless mouse – Free yourself! I switched to a wireless mouse and feel like my speed has increased when I am doing PPTs and making worksheets. ₩8,900 @ Miniso

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ESL in Korea Survival Guide: No-tech and low-tech life savers in the classroom.

Having an arsenal of notech activities is something I highly recommend as an ESL teacher in South Korea. At any given moment, you could experience a technical difficulty with your computer or TV in the classroom. These activities are also helpful if you have some extra time before class ends (use all your time wisely!) Most of these activities can easily be printed or played without extensive effort but do not sacrifice quality.

No-tech ESL/EFL games

  1. Board slap – Listening domain. Group activity.

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  • Materials needed – 2 soft objects to hit the board. (Picture cards are optional)

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  • Process – Have the class divided into two groups. Each round of the game, pictures related to the lesson vocabulary are posted on the class white/black/chalkboard. Two students come to the front of the class with their backs facing the board. In a lesson such as “Who is she” The rest of the class may ask in unison “Who is she/he?” The teacher then may respond with “He is a _____. 3, 2, 1!” After the teacher says 3,2,1 the the students race to the board and then hit the photo of the vocabulary word spoken by the teacher.  Continue until all students have participated. Picture cards are useful in that the pictures may be rearranged on the board periodically.
  • You may use picture cards or even draw pictures (maybe younger or lower level classes)/or words on the board.

Missing picture card – Speaking/Reading

  • You can also play this with words, so again, select the best option based on the proficiency level of the class. Arrange the photos/words on the board. Ask students to put their heads on their desk and remove one word/photo from the board. Ask students what photo has been removed. 

Additional low-tech activities

  • Find the letters – Reading
    • Similar to a word search. Good for young learners mastering the alphabet. Ask them to find how many of each letter is hidden within the letter search box.
  • Color by letters – Reading
  • Whisper game – Listening/Speaking
  • Word searches – Reading
  • Crosswords – Reading/Writing
    • I premake crosswords using the vocabulary from each lesson and have them saved and ready to print. – Also helpful to provide the translation of their native language as the hint to the crossword. 

Reflections on my first months as an ESL teacher in South Korea

I’ve been in Korea now for a little over 4 months. Here are a few of my reflections on my experience so far..

  • Good classes and bad classes are in flux – same goes with good students vs bad students. In the beginning I would dread 3rd grade (adorable but out of control, even with native co-teacher doing management), but now I love teaching 3rd grade. Now 5th grade tends to be problematic. 
  • You will eventually accept the unpredictability – cancelled classes, lesson plans shifting, new teachers coming and going etc. If you are a person that needs everything to be planned out 100% you will change, not as a matter of choice, but necessity. 
  • Stock up BEFORE YOU COME on lessons focusing explicitly on each of the communicative domains (speaking, listening, writing, reading) along with review games for when you finish lessons. Once you get your textbooks, look at the review sections for the jist of what key expressions and vocabulary you will need in review activities. You can use these to make word searches and other supplementary materials, which im telling you, will save your life when a lesson flies by faster than you expected or when technological issues occur and you are unable to use that powerpoint you slaved over for hours or planned to use in class.
  • You will not feel guilty for downloading and using files and materials from waygook.org. DO IT. SAVE TIME. THERE IS GOOD STUFF ON THERE. At first I wanted to be the teacher who made everything themselves. That lasted for only a few weeks and I caved.
  • After your first semester you will have an idea of what works and what doesn’t work in your classroom and what students like and dislike. Take note mentally as you do different activities what your students are receptive to and what flops. 
  • The seating charts the teachers give you will save your life too, ask for one if they haven’t given you any. Even knowing a few students’ names can change the atmosphere of a classroom. You can tell on a students face when you call on them by name and they are relieved that you know who THEY are. 

Ad astra per aspera,

Jeffrey

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Resources for beginner EPIK teachers

Starting a new job can be stressful. Starting a job that you may have no formal experience in, can be even more stressful. Here are some resources you may find helpful as you prepare/begin your journey as an English teacher through EPIK, or any other ESL position.


Lessons/Pedagogy (teaching) – Always aim to make your own lesson plans. Only use these resources as a guide, or inspiration.

  • wedding-planningLinkedIn TESOL International Association group – Whether or not you are a regular user of LinkedIn, join this group to gain insight on various teaching styles and lesson plans from ESL teachers themselves. Over 23,000 members!
  • Waygook.org – One of the most well-known resources for ESL (English as a second language) teachers in Korea
  • ColorinColorado.com – Focuses mainly on ESL instruction in US schools but you can find a wide variety of helpful information on this website.
  • ShareMyLesson.com – Browse thousands of ELL (English language learner) focused lessons after free sign up.
  • ESLPrintables.com – Library of printables related to grammar, vocab, listening, speaking, reading, writing, cinema and television, and even songs.
  • LessonPlanet.com – ESL vocabulary lesson plans and worksheets.
  • ESL-Galaxy.com – “Free ESL Printables, Kids Activities, Games and Online Exercises for Grammar, Vocabulary & Pronunciation.”
  • TeachChildrenESL.com – Free worksheets, flashcards, games, lesson plans and online activities.
  • TeachersPayTeachers  – Offers both free and paid lesson plans and worksheets.

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