Special Issue (Daegu 2017): Eye-opening Trip to Daegu

By Au-Yang Edith (Year 4, 2016-2017)

Nine ELED student-teachers went to Daegu, South Korea for an outbound teaching practice tour for nine days in May 2017. The tour was led by Professor Tang, Professor Park and an ELED alumna, Ingrid To, all of whom provided insights into our lesson preparations and guided us to critically reflect on our own teaching. Having been paired up to co-teach, we also learnt from and support each other.

As we knew little about the background of Korean students, we only prepared lesson plans adaptable to a range of abilities before our departure. After the class observations in Seonggwang Junior High School, we finalized our lesson plans and materials within the limited time. We felt uneasy, yet we all knew we only had one chance to demonstrate our teaching techniques. English classes in Daegu are mostly taught in Korean, and not knowing how to speak the students’ first language, we showed them that they are capable of listening to English instructions and responding in English by teaching in full English. The English proficiency of the students in Junior High School was higher than our expectation; most students expressed enthusiasm in our lessons and participated actively in class, which was a great encouragement to us.

As we had been spending a lot of energy and time on the preparation of lessons in Junior High, we had less than half a day to prepare for the lessons in Senior High School. Due to the presidential election, we could not observe any class there. Thus we had to evaluate and project the suitability of the prepared lessons based on our previous teaching in Junior High School. After the reflection session, we decided to scale up the difficulty of the production tasks. It is true that a competent teacher’s difference lies in how he/she adapts to challenging circumstances on the spot during the actual teaching, we realized that the students’ level was lower than what we had expected. Although we faced obstacles in teaching them, we became more aware of our weaknesses in teaching.

All in all, it is an eye-opening experience to have acquired teaching experience in a country where English is taught as a foreign language. We realized that students, no matter they are learning English as a second or foreign language, have the ability to listen to and use the language given that the teachers provide comprehensible and gradual input of the target language. We are also able to compare the merits and drawbacks of various teaching approaches, which will surely help us make decisions in our future teaching.

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