It has been another productive and satisfying day. I put aside time today to go to my office to get some work done and that is what I did. There, I worked on teaching and KOTESOL stuff, and put together workbook materials from the Korean class.
I picked up a folder and notebook for Korean studies at a campus store. Next, I wrote up and printed out a tract for the KOTESOL presentation. Then I printed out exercises for four weeks’ of the Korean language digital lessons and assembled them in the folder. After that, I turned my attention to the grad course on curriculum development and did internet and library searches. I quickly and easily found some sources to get me started, so I was able to begin making notes in order to prepare a syllabus. Finally, I put some more thought to the fall writing course and worked on the syllabus for that course.
Yes, I actually went into our new library for the first time (well, the first time beyond the coffee shop there). I checked out books from a Korean library for the first time in my life! The staff knew I had to be an instructor, and they used my national i.d. number to look me up and register the borrowed books. I don’t know why they did not use my employee number, especially since I presented my employee card first.
Yeah, I usually borrow academic books or buy them at stores or online. I search for articles generally available on the internet without going through journal indexes. I do not have to acquire many. I have been able to write articles and prepare conference presentations without doing a lot of research. I have never used the journal indexes through the BUFS library!
Not knowing anything about teaching curriculum development, I used a British university course syllabus on the subject of curriculum development to guide me. I need to read some sources on the subject before I can plan the course I found a few titles online, including some items that may be downloaded for free, and a section on one library shelf. Looking over the library books, I can see they go far too deeply into the subject for my purposes. I can make it much lighter for the Korean grad students of English as a foreign language, even though they are mostly public school teachers of English. The online materials are specifically about curriculum development for language courses or programs, but both types of sources will help because I’ll need some foundation of the discipline like theoretical and philosophical approaches, classifications, and discussions of contexts in which curricula get developed. Once I do a brief study, I’ll be able to sort out topics and issues for the course, and isolate some key points, but I am not going to try to get the students to do extensive readings or essay writing.
We, the native English speaking teaching staff, know that Korean graduate students studying in English cannot usually handle that level, what would be a normal depth and breadth of a graduate course in North American or European institutions. Because studies are content-based and aimed at quantitative test performance, Korean students do not read and write a lot. Really! It’s true! Consequently, they do not want to do a lot of work. They usually make complaints against the teacher and try to make the teacher pare down the activities and assignments. On top of all that, they simply cannot understand normal academic readings and lectures in English. Well, that all makes my job easier, does it not? If they do not work so hard, I do not need to.
One topic, I can say already, will be reflective practice. Regarding that aspect, I intend to have the students make a journal about their learning experience: I am thinking about a couple of paragraphs a week. Also, I was lucky enough to find a great article on teacher journal writing, which I will have the students consider.
With 21 hours of teaching hours in the classroom on my timetable for next semester, it is going to serve me well to do a lot of the course planning this summer. Graduate courses take a lot of time and work to teach, for the regular rate of pay, I might add. Professors usually end up having to spend a few hours every week to prepare materials and presentations for such classes, which is quite burdensome, even if the course is relatively light. I can reduce the burden by starting to prepare things now since I have a lot of time on my hands. Actually, my choice of approach to the job could result in a lighter burden. If I make the course about the subject and treat it as an introductory course, disregarding its classification as a master’s program course, and rather than fulfilling the duty of teaching skills normally expected of graduate students in the West, we can cover fundamental questions and cover key topics and issues through discussion without overextending myself or exceeding the limits and expectation of the Korean graduate students of English education. That way, the students will acquire an understanding of curriculum development, develop some views on approaches and issues, and gain some practical tips for their professions, even though they will not be able to write profoundly about it. Indeed, I was extremely fortunate to find a 30-page Power Point presentation introducing curriculum development to non-native speaking teachers of English. It presents basic points simply and clearly with graphics and minimum text.
As an alternative to reading and writing extensively on related topics and issues, I have learned before that it can be worthwhile to get them to preview my lecture materials and present a lesson, each student taking a turn to do it one by one. For example, I could have students present parts of the above Power Point one by one, or have them each talk about one excerpt from the articles (excerpt, not the whole article) that I choose.
It feels good to see today that I can get a handle on the subject myself and present it elegantly. Yesterday, when I accepted the invitation to teach this course, I did not have a clue as to what to do. After a couple of hours of research, I have a general picture of how to go about it and what content to cover. To add, it feels really good to be excited about teaching something new. I have been wanting to do something new and more challenging in my job.
Returning to the topic of my Korean studies, I got a message about the class times. The tutor is going to be available on Tuesday nights after all. Hooray! What is more, there are three other students in the group. Yea! I am glad that schedule is working out because the course takes up a lot of time—at least 10 to 12 hours--each week, and I can benefit the most by studying this summer before the heavy fall term of teaching is under way.