I took a one-month Korean class in Seoul, South Korea, at the Ganada Korean Language Institute. I loved the class, which was a lot like the English classes in the program I taught in, at the Center for English as a Second Language (CESL), at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.
Students Need Speaking Practice!
When I was teaching English as a Second Language, a lot of our students complained that they didn’t get enough speaking practice. Either there was too much teacher talk, or they had to be very confident and assertive in order to speak in class.
In Korea, Equal Speaking Time, Every Day
In my Korean language class in Seoul, every student got equal speaking time, every day. The method was simple. Every time our teacher asked a question-either as a warm-up at the beginning of class, or during class, to reinforce grammar points-she called on each of the eleven students, in order, around the room.
If this sounds dull and boring, it wasn’t! She varied it by starting at different points in the room, by using pictures sometimes, and by changing something about her question from time to time. It was good!
Every Student Can Answer
At first, I gave the shortest, simplest possible answer to every question. Soon, speaking became easier when I realized my answers didn’t have to be perfectly truthful! If the teacher asked what I had for dinner the night before, for example, and I didn’t know the names of the soup and vegetables I had at my boarding house, I would just slip in the names of dishes I knew: kimbap, kimchi chigae, bibimbap.
Sometimes You Can Add a Little More
On the other hand, once I felt comfortable in class, I would sometimes embroider my answer with a little fancy grammar: “Because I had so much homework last night, I just ate ramyeon”–something like that!
So it wasn’t boring at all that we went around the classroom answering the same question in Korean. The other students, too, threw in extra information and more complicated grammar at times, and sometimes a little joke or two.
It’s a Great Way for Every Student to Participate, and Learn, and Have Fun
Thus, we all got many chances to speak Korean every day, while learning more about each other and from each other. Also, we could usually understand what all the other students were saying, since we were all talking about the same things in slightly different ways. This was good for our listening.
It wasn’t boring at all! Chae mi isseossoyo! It was fun!