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Structure and Variety: Journals

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This will be my third time in korea since 1995. as well as teaching there, I also teach here in Canada. From all my expereince teaching company classes and from teaching, I believe that an excellent way to teach is to have both variety and structure in every class hour in your company class. By a structured activity, I mean something that is done on a daily basis without need for your explanantion. Journal writing is the best thing I found. The first few days or even the first week or so will consist of many students staring blankly into the air and thinking about what to write. However, once they learn how to write in their journal, it becomes hard to stop them. Usually journals should be done in the first fifteen or twenty minutes of the class. What you need to do is spend a few dollars on a cheap personal notebook for every student in your class. Place the book on the student's assigned seat - this helps you keep students in proper places as well - and when the student comes in the immediately see "the topic for the day' written on the board and the start and finish time of the journal entry. Topics can be simple words or complex questions. I prefered one word topics such as, Children, Buses, Religion or Marriage. These topics allowed students a greater amount of freedom to comment on things that were often important to their lives. You can encourage students to choose their own topics as well, what is important is the writing process and a timed piece of writing. over time, you will learn about your students from their writing. Beginning class with journals also helped deal with the annoying problem of when to begin classes while awaiting for those late arrivals or having to deal with the problem of those late arrivals by wasting class time on talking to them. If a student came late they missed a portion of journal time. If students missed class, you could do your attendence by looking in the journal entries. most important to this activity is to collect the journals at the end of every class and mark them. This way you will see how your student's writing and idea construction is doing. Your marking strategies may differ from student to student. Some students, who were good writers, I would correct everything. Other students, who were poorer writers, i would ony correct spelling. Don't use red to do your correcting; it is a traditionally nasty colour. On every journal, I always thanked the student at the end of the entry with "Good work, Kim", "Keep writing, Sung Mi", or "Interesting Ideas, Ali." It is important to use the name of the student in your praise; it makes the praise more accepted and helps develop a personal relationship with the students. Allow dictionaries to be present, but no talking should be done during this time. This activity also prevents those students who use the class only as a social time from relating to their peers what antics they performed the night before. Students begin to take this activity seriously and they will thank you for it. It also helps you work on things you might not have time for in a ordinary class. you can think about the lesson you have prepared for the next 30 minutes of the class, you can pull students out one at a day and conference or test them just outside your classroom door (if possible) or - if you are confident in your marking - you can have two sets of journal notebooks and use this time to mark the entries from the day before. Use this time wisely as a teacher. Remember no student is allowed to finish early, it is twent or fifteen minutes of writing. Another good thing about this activity is that you have a set of works in progress from each student. if you have a problem with a student's attendence or lateness, just pull out his or her journal. The entries don't lie. This to me is the best daily activity for strucure and learning I know. I recommend, if you use it, use it everyday and use it for a whole course or term or year. It teachs students so many things and it teachs you about your students. As for variety, use the remaining time in the class to doing interesting and new lessons in order to keep your business people interested and to teach them as well. these students get bored very easily, either due to the natural difficulty of the subject matter, educational responses learned in their past from a difficult education system or other peronal issues. Working in a korean company is usually very tiring and diffiuclt for the workers. It is easier for you and better for your students that you are a dancing bear for twenty five minutes instead of trying to pull off the impossible task of being a good one for a full class hour. In conclusion, a structured activity and a varied activity are two things every class should have in my opinion. Remember taking a class seriously, doesn't mean their should be no room for fun. One thing to keep in mind, is that in many cases youyr class may be the only time during the day where students feel like they have an opportunity to express themselves and maybe to enjoy themselves without the pressures that the IFM has brought to their companies and their lives. Take the journal writing seriously, but also remember to give them something after the writing that is both interesting and useful.

Good Luck,

Jeff O

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