When Rapport Just Happens

The truth is, I was really worried about walking into this classroom. You see, I haven’t strictly taught a conversation based class in six years. More importantly, I haven’t taught a beginner class in that time either.

To top it off, I didn’t have fond memories of this particular classroom. When I taught beginner conversation classes six years ago, it’s in this classroom I recalled my biggest challenges: building rapport with quiet students whose interest in learning to speak English either didn’t exist or slowly dissipated as the semester went on. I remembered how much I had dreaded walking into this classroom back then. Looking back, perhaps my students’ motivation was a reflection of my apprehension.

Then on Friday, after all that worrying,  this happened.

IMG_4607This was my second class with this group of freshman. During the first class we did an icebreaker activity which involved finding out how old I was (age is an important factor in how relationships are built in Korea). Some students remembered that our Friday class together would be my 38th birthday. I never thought they would remember let alone go as far as buying a cake!

And just like that, my fears went out the door. We had a small celebration together which included one of the best rapport builders I know in Korea: group pictures.

During the rest of the class students shared their own birth dates. Some students discovered they were born on the same day. Then some learned the were from the same city; then the same majors.

Sometimes we can plan ways to build rapport with our students, but most of the time it’s just about being open to genuine moments of connection.

To learn more about building rapport with your language students, join #KELTchat tonight (September 9) from 8 to 9pm (Korea time) on Twitter.


Teacher Autobiographies – KIETT Spring 2010

During the first session of the Keimyung Intensive English Teacher Training program (KIETT), trainees wrote a one-paragraph teacher’s autobiography. Here are some of the results:

I Am a Traveler

By Kang Shinho

As a teacher, I think I’m a traveler. When travelers fill their bags with things needed for travel, I fill my heart, soul and brain with continuous studying so that my students will be able to use it when they’re in need. In addition, when travelers want to have a cozy and comfortable place to take a rest after a long walk, I, as another traveler, feel comfortable when I teach, play and be with my lovely students. Moreover, as travelers recall travels they’ve just finished, and as they develop rolls of film, I automatically recall and think how to develop my own classes better for next time. With all mentioned above, as a teacher, I am, indeed, a traveler who’s looking for the destination, which makes me a professional traveler.

Who I Am As a Teacher

By Son Young ju

To respect one another is my creed in class. Before meeting students, I usually begin to memorize their names, and pray for my relationship with them. When I first meet my students, I give them a letter, which conveys to students and their parents a brief biographical introduction, and the basic principals of education in my class. Secondly, I always try to understand who my students are and what their needs are. Then I prepare appropriate measures to satisfy them emotionally and academically. I make a constant effort to carry out the plans as far as I can. Also, I acknowledge my weaknesses in front of my students and ask their assistance. Because I am a single-mom with three children, I really need their support all the time. Lastly, I think I can learn from my students. I believe learning, as well as teaching, makes me mature and enriches my life. A scholar of the Jo-seon dynasty said, “If you love, you get to know and see more what is different from what you saw in the past.” I believe that honesty, caring, modesty, and love are the foundation for mutual respect.

Feeling Happiness As an English Teacher

 By Heo Jung Won

The reason I became an English teacher is because I enjoy studying English. When I entered middle school, the Seoul Olympic Games were held in Korea, so many foreigners visited our nation. With the hope to communicate with them, I studied English hard, and began to take to it; I never had the chance to talk to them, though. By the time I became a high school student, English was my most prominent subject on tests. Therefore, I decided to apply for English education department in University, and this choice proved to be right. Truly, I took a delight in English novels and poems. After experiencing failure several times, I became an English teacher. Ultimately, I realized my dream, and I really love my job. The best thing about being an English teacher is that I feel happy when my students enjoy my English class as I enjoyed studying English when I was young.

KIETT – Session 1, Spring 2010

Practices in Teaching

Learning About Objectives - Practices in Teaching
SMART Objectives

Writing Skills

Sentence Puzzle
Transition Word Comic Book Stories
Sentence Variety Sleuths
Finding Clues
Solving the Mystery
Transition Word Detectives

Diamante Closure

Summer here we come!

Waiting for Summer