I remember when I first started teaching in South Korea, I was handed the course book and quickly thrown in a classroom full of young children. My heart was pounding and my head was spinning. It was only a few days previously that I flew into the country with my family and I was still trying to find my place in this wonderful country. Nevertheless, after a number of months I gained confidence and tried to read more about teaching from various websites to give me more ideas. However, I quickly found that to prompt authentic interaction and conversation between the learners or the learners and myself was increasingly difficult. I decided to use various articles that would interest the young learners but found that the 50 minute class was too short to take advantage of this. In the end, I started using games and activities to relax and prompt authentic interaction in the classroom. I suppose at the time, I was unaware of a Dogme ELT movement and was trying to keep teach myself at the same time. On a side note, for budding teachers wanting to experience a different culture and get a job, English language teachers are employed in Korea with the only requirements for applicants to have a degree in any subject and an interest in the culture/language. I suppose I am, what is now referred to, as a backpacker EFL teacher.
Anyhow, I suppose the greatest challenge for any language teacher is to get learners to converse and interact in the target language. As I have a keen interest in authentic conversation and autonomy in the classroom, I got “Teaching Unplugged” in 2010 and this provided the basis of developing activities to prompt authentic and Dogme-esque moments in the classroom. The lesson ideas require very little preparation, limited materials and the focus is on getting the students conversing in the hope that there is emergent language that can be scaffolded. I have relied upon these activities with various classes and the learners have always been receptive. Some of the activities have been customised from “Teaching Unplugged” and give credit to such a wonderful and inspirational book.
I hope you get the opportunity to incorporate some of the lesson ideas in your classroom.
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