English text books in Korea.

I constantly complain to my co-teacher about the poor quality of the text books we teach from. We do  not overuse them because we know that they are relatively limited in useful dialogue and exciting activities, so we tend to mix it up and use more of our own materials in the classroom. That being said, we still use the text book as a guide and follow the syllabus and key vocabulary. There is however one problem with this. Inevitably if we do stray from the text book too much there are certain activities (written or otherwise) that are skipped altogether. Generally I would say that they are skipped because we have looked at them and decided they are pretty stupid. The text book has its place in that it is a well constructed and thought out curriculum. The main problem is that it was clearly written by people who have studied English as a second language. The main issues with this are that it has key expressions that are unusual and sometimes useless. I fear that whenever my students hear someone say “I have a cold” they will feel obliged to reply with a sarcastic sounding response of “That’s too bad”. Not the most useful of expressions to learn. The teachers handbook is also solely in Korean, which is not very useful to a solely English speaking teacher, and so many of the activities are rather puzzling to me anyway.

Around a month ago we had a parent complain to the school. This was because (being a pushy Korean parent) she had gone over the text book religiously with her son or daughter and asked them daily what they had studied in class. When they discovered that we had been skipping the ‘story’ section in the books, she complained and we were told we had to teach it. I was pretty surprised that the school let a parent walk all over them like this.  We are expected to supplement the books with our own teaching ideas and methods, but as soon as a parent thinks they know better than you it is back to the book. I guarantee if we taught from nothing but the book, we would lose the attention of every single student in the classroom in the space of a minute. Considering the length of time my co-teacher has studied for gaining her teaching qualifications, and the quality of her lesson preparations, I am pretty surprised that ‘John Smith’ (or Korean equivalent) is allowed to claim he knows better. See below for today’s thrilling installment of storytime, complete with key expressions such as “I also got her love”.

Story Time 2

 

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