When I first arrived to teach English in Korea, I was worried about how much Korean would be spoken in the classroom. To my relief, here at Chungdahm, there should be no Korean spoken in the classroom. While this is a constant battle, here are a few tips to help keep an English only classroom.
First, try to set your standards high at the beginning of the term. Sometimes teachers are too lenient during the first two weeks with Korean in the classroom because they want to seem like a friendly and nice teacher. My advice is to be a stickler in the beginning because while you can always loosen up the rules, becoming stricter is a greater battle.
Another tool I have used is to have students stand up for a certain period of time or until they have made a positive contribution to the class. This can be tricky with the more difficult students, but in general I have found success with it. Sometimes the simplest solutions and most cheesy ones work the best.
The calm before the storm
Next, go back to the basics. Think of when you were an elementary school or middle school student. Try strategies such as putting their name on the board or taking away break time. Also, I have found that elementary school students love calling each other out. At times, they will be harder on each other and will police themselves more than me.
In addition, it is important to make sure that you are fair and consistent with your rules. Remember that these are children and that sometimes your favorite student will have a tough day. Even if they are an amazing student 95% of the time, treat them the same when they are being a distraction as the most difficult student in the class.
Because I have a projector in my classroom, on occasion I have put student’s pictures up on the board during break as a “punishment” if they speak in Korean 3 times in a class. This only works well if the rest of the class is overall well behaved. If executed in an appropriate way, this can be the most fun for the other students in the class because they are then allowed to draw on the person’s picture during break time.
Some students having a fun time drawing during break time
Finally, I recommend that you learn some of the bad words in Korean before you come to teach. Think about how you were at that age. If you had a teacher that did not speak the same language as you or your classmates, just imagine the things that you could have gotten away with saying. While we have CCTV to help with these problems, it is important for a teacher to be able to recognize when something inappropriate is being said in the classroom.
How do you keep your students from speaking Korean in the classroom?
Nash Brodsky grew up in Denver, Colorado and is currently teaching for CDI in Gwangju, Korea. After graduating from the University of Massachusetts with degrees in Psychology and Music, he decided to embark on first year living abroad by taking on the challenges of teaching in a foreign country. With the excitement of teaching children and the adventures of living in another country, Josh is enjoying every minute of what Korea has to offer. Follow Nash during his first year abro