When I arrived year to teach in Korea last year, I was placed in ChungDahm's April program. Since many people applying through Aclipse to teach for ChungDahm may not know about the April program, I figured I would use this blog to introduce you to the program and tell you what a typical day as an April teacher is like.
The first thing you need to know about the April program is that although it is a division of Chungdahm Institute, not all Chungdahm branches will host the program. It depends on space availability, budget, demand and enrollment. Thankfully, my branch in Busanjin is able to host both the CDI and April programs. It is quite a large branch employing 8 foreign teachers, 5 Korean teachers and 4 Korean administrative staff. All April teachers are paired with a Korean co-teacher whom you share classes with.
The biggest difference between the April and regular Chungdahm (CDI) program is age. Once students reach CDI they have already gone through April or some other primary English academy. At my branch the youngest student is 6 and our oldest is 14; which tends to be the cut off age to when students move up to CDI.
The name ‘April’ and the name of each of the levels within the program are all named to indicate growth and progress for the students. The levels are from lowest to highest:
Sprout (1, 2&3)
Each level, for example Seed 1, takes 6 months to complete. The term is divided into A and B Track, both of which are 3 months long. After 6 months in a level students are given an Achievement Test to determine if they have the proficiency to level up or repeat.
The lower levels, Starter and Seedbed, come 5 days a week for 1 class. The middle and higher levels, Seed, Sprout and Sapling, come either 3 days a week for 2 classes, or 2 days a week for 3 classes. Each class is 45 minutes long, and a 5 minute break is allotted between every class.
Take a Look at What My Daily Schedule is Like
1:00pm - Arrive at Chungdahm April branch (Luckily, my apartment is only about a 3 minute walk from my school, so sleeping in has become a regular).
1:05 - Although classes don’t begin until later, our branch asks the April teachers to come in early to prep for classes and do necessary grading.
1:10 – Open April Gate, the computer program used by April, and print out chunk quizzes for the day. Seed, Sprout and Sapling levels have to do a quiz after every lesson. These print outs can be easily found on the teachers server on all the branch computers.
1:20 – Do online grading. Students in the Seed, Sprout and Sapling levels are required to submit writing and speaking homework online. At my branch the foreign teachers are required to grade the online speaking, which student’s record using a microphone at home. These grades are inputted online in a program called ERP. ERP is where all the students’ grades are inputted.
2:20 – First class. My first class is always the Starter or Seedbed level. These levels focus on Phonics. Each week we focus on a different vowel, either short or long, and learn new words that correspond with those sounds. For example, last week we learned about short ‘i’ sound, and learned words like big, pig, lid, pin. This week we are learning about the long ‘i’ sound, and are learning words like lime, hike, like, pine. There is usually a short 4 sentence story that incorporates the new vocabulary words the students learned that day.
3:10 – Break.
3:15 – New class. Also a lower level class, so the schedule is similar to that of the 2:20 class.
4:05 – Break.
4:10 – New Class. At this time, the older students arrive, so there will be a change in books and a big change in dialogue ability. Students come with 3 books with them; a Chunk book, Gallery book and Practice book. The Chunk book is their homework book, which they do after each lesson. The Gallery book is the story book from which we read every lesson. The Practice book has the activities we do after reading the story. Students use the Chunk book at home and the Gallery and Practice books in class. I usually give my students about 5 minutes to study for their chunk quizzes every class.
4:15 – Give students their chunk quizzes.
4:20 – Collect chunk quizzes and begin the lesson. Each lesson has a story and corresponding activities to go along with it. The activities are always the same for every level, just altered difficulty and different questions to match each story.
4:30 – Finish reading the story and begin the Practice book activities. Every lesson has reading, speaking and writing portions. Foreign teachers at my branch typically do the reading and speaking portions of the lesson.
4:50 – Break.
4:55 – New Class. All the afternoon classes have the same format: Quiz, story, practice book.
5:35 – Break.
5:40 – New Class. At this time another bus load has dropped off the later classes, and picked up the afternoon classes.
6:20 – Break.
6:25 – Last class.
7:05 – Classes are finished. At this point, classes are over and the students are gone. Teachers use this time to input chunk book homework scores, chunk quiz scores, and do any other online grading they may have not had time to do in the morning. All these grades are inputted onto ERP.
7:30pm – Go home.
The April schedule is great because you don’t start early and it is never a late night. The programs are so easy to use, the lessons are simple, and the students are fantastic! It is impossible to choose a favorite class because although the format and schedule is roughly the same all day, the students make every class so unique. It is amazing to see the growth and progress of the youngest classes, and boy are they cute to! However, conversing and getting to know the students is much easier in the older, afternoon classes. Each class is fun in its own way, and all my students, especially this term, have been a pleasure to teach. Be sure to check out Melanie’s blog on her experiences teaching the April program in Seoul!
And if you ever get the option, I recommend choosing the April program!