Hello everyone! My name is Giselle and I recently began teaching in Korea this past November at ChungDahm Learning's Daechi branch in Gangnam, Seoul. I am from California in the U.S. where I attended the University of California, Riverside for 5 years. During those 5 years, I always worked with international students and in my third year of college it was when I decided that I wanted to teach English abroad upon graduating. It was through these experiences of being an English tutor for international students that I felt really fulfilled. I particularly found it easy to get along with Korean students which is why I decided to pursue a teaching opportunity in Korea. I even attended Yonsei University in Seoul for a semester and fell in love with the city. When I got back to the US, I enrolled in extra courses on campus to obtain my TESOL certificate - Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. I finished all the courses the summer after I graduated and on the last day of my certification program I was thrilled to find out I was offered a contract to work for Chungdahm.
In my two part blog series I will go into detail about my first days in Korea and going through ChungDahm's training week (featured below), along with moving into my new apartment and adjusting to live as a full-time teacher (part 2).
ChungDahm Training Week
The first day of training has two parts - medical examination and training at Jamsil Songpa. I am not sure if the building used for training is alternated. Anyway, instructors meet in the lobby of the hotel early in the morning upon which a limousine bus transports the instructors to the medical center. The medical examination takes up the whole morning. It is very thorough and impressively well organized. Instructors easily bond during this time, as everyone is dressed in rather comical robes and curious about what will happen during the next step of the examination process.
Once everyone is done with their medical exam, the limousine bus transports everyone the Chungdahm’s CDI Jamsil Songpa location. Thus, by midday of that first day, training truly begins. Training is different depending on which of the three CDL programs you’ll be teaching - i-Garten, April and CDI. I am an April teacher. Chungdahm’s April program is the program that serves the students that are barely exposed to learning English in an academic setting. The students that attend April tend to be first to fifth graders. In the lowest level offered, students are learning their ABCs. At the highest level, students are making full essays on complex topics. It is at April that these students nurture and own their English, in a creative and fun environment, enough to be able to move into Chungdahm’s CDI program. As an April teacher, I will talk about my April training experience. Personally, I had fun, because I went into the experience with a positive attitude and a desire to make the most out of my training experience.
During the training, April teachers learn to use a smartboard, the April teacher’s platform, and the methodologies with their procedures. Staring from the second day simulations begin. Trainers are looking for five things in particular - SWOMF. It is an acronym that stands for the following: 1) Smartboard and Student management, 2) WH questions, 3) Objectives, 4) Methodology and 5) Flow and Style. Following the methodology and reaching the objectives of the lessons is the easy part due to the very detailed and organized structure that CDL has created for their programs.
At first instructors think the smartboard is a challenge. The smartboard is very sensitive, but by the end of the week your hours dedicated to learning how to use the smartboard pay off and it becomes very simple. WH questions are who, what, where, when, and how questions. As an April instructor, you need to guide your students through all the slides of your lesson, thus, these questions are essential for moving students along each slide. My advice is to create your WH questions in advance and always, always cold-call. The WH questions and cold-calling is what instructors most have to work on during training. Style and flow comes with time, as everything is new to you and that can trip up your flow. However, my advice is to be positive, patient and energetic to really start developing your style and flow.
Oh! I forgot to mention that there is homework each night. The homework consists of watching a handful of videos, then answering questions about them. Also, the homework always has a reflection section, so one can evaluate how they did during simulations and make a game plan on how to make improvements. If you really give it your best shot, then the final evaluation is nothing to be scared about. Ultimately, all the practice, simulations, homework and feedback prepare instructors for their first day of teaching.
I am serious. Take a breather and just absorb the information provided like a sponge. Trainers even tell instructors that all the training isn’t to shape one into a good teacher, but to get everyone ready for their very first day. It takes about 3 to 6 months to become a really good CDL teacher. They know this and are okay with this. How do I know? That is precisely what instructors were told by their trainers.
Also worth noting, instructions are provided the day before final evaluations on what will happen after you pass. Upon completing their final evaluations most instructors are then immediately transported to the branch they will work at. In my case, I was placed in Gangnam, Seoul. Thus, I was provided transportation instructions on where to go to for shadowing. My shadowing took place at the April Jamsil Songpa location. It was about thirty minutes away from the CDI Jamsil Songpa location. Upon arriving, I was provided with a schedule of classes that I needed to shadow. This time is dedicated to observing everything one learned during training played out in a real classroom. I think it is important to pay attention to the class management. Simulations of class management and real class management are always different. Moreover, it is important to observe and take notes during this time, for the classes you shadow are the class levels you’ll be teaching.
I hope part 1 of my blog was helpful in giving you a better idea of what ChungDahm's training week is like. Be sure to check out part 2 of my blog next week where I will let you know about moving into my new apartment and transitioning to life as a teacher.