Get Students Talking with ESL Clubs

Fresh out of university, I traveled to South Korea to teach at a foreign language institute giving English classes.  This was a great first teaching job in many ways.  The curriculum was very rote, and was taught to the teachers within a two week orientation program.  Since the classes taught were strictly conversation, no writing or grammar, it was pretty easy to learn the program, and fine tune our ears to pick up on pronunciation errors and difficulties.  Once in the classroom, I quickly became comfortable with the “routine” of this curriculum, and started branching out.  I wanted students to understand the words we repeated endlessly while practicing punctuation, and to know how and when to use them.  Certain words have alternative meanings than one would naturally give them.  For example, I had several male students discussing going out with their “boyfriends”, and based on interactions in class, I was quite certain that’s not exactly what they meant to convey.  Upon asking and explaining the connotation, students were often shocked and never repeated the same mistake.

One of my favorite activities was the weekend “clubs” we held, which were offered free to students and gave them extra time to practice their English in a more natural setting.  The clubs varied, but all included the basic elements of exploring a new topic, learning related vocabulary, and then engaging in a topic-related discussion.  It was a great way to get to know students because as they answer general questions surrounding the topic, they often tell personal anecdotes or make statements that get them talking about other parts of their lives.

This week I’m be sharing a bit about my teaching experience in Korea, and each day also sharing a resource on TeachersPayTeachers.  This third one is a conversation club, called “The Cab Ride” which is based around an article discussing the power of a moment, and kindness to strangers. Click here to download it:

Geo Guru


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