Blog Archives

Class preparation (teaching in Japan and Korea…or anywhere)

There is no such thing as being too prepared. Being prepared and even better, being over-prepared can be a very comforting thing in the first days of your teaching career.

A few years ago, while working as a head teacher at a private school I was responsible for observing new teachers. A recently hired teacher was going to be conducting a lesson on one of his first days in the classroom. He was to give me his lesson plan and I would quietly sit in the back of his classroom watching him teach and interact with his students. I was looking for many things while I observed. Was his lesson meeting curriculum needs? Was his lesson well planned and engaging for the students? Did he transition well between different activities? Did he manage the students well? How did the students respond to his teaching style and delivery? The list goes on.

What I saw was a nervous teacher speed through his lesson in half the time he had planned and then freeze. He quickly raced through his class material, not stopping to see if the students were understanding and when he reached the end of his lesson, or should I say his lesson plan (there were still 30 minutes left in class), he literally stopped speaking. He nervously looked at the students and then me before rummaging through his teacher resource basket for a few moments. He then looked at me and said, “That’s all I have. I don’t know what to do.” His class was confused and looked at me. I told him he had 30 minutes to go and he had to do something for that time since it was his class. He panicked and I had to step in front of the class and off the cuff, create a writing exercise for them to do for the remaining time in that class period.

Although that teacher had clearly spent a lot of time planning his lesson, he wasn’t able to execute it the way he had hoped because he was simply too nervous. This is of course a very normal thing for someone who doesn’t have experience. The problem was that he didn’t have the experience necessary in order to have a good set of teaching activities to fall back on. He wasn’t able to think of something off the cuff when his lesson didn’t go the way he had planned.

That teacher and many others out there in both Japan and Korea could save themselves from this uncomfortable if not terrifying experience if they just “over-plan” before their first few lessons. You might want to even do it for the first few weeks until you start to get more familiar with your new role as a teacher.

That teacher I observed should have created extra teaching material aside from his language lesson. Maybe he could have created or found a journal worksheet online. The students could have drawn a picture and written about whatever the class topic was. Maybe he could have had a few puzzles in his resource basket. He could have gone online and researched a few ESL or phonics games he could play with the children if his planned lesson came to an end faster than expected.  All of these extra activities would have been a small “teaching activity resource base” for him in a time of need.

Another great thing about planning too much in the beginning of your teaching career is that those lessons or activities that you planned, and did not use, are by no means a waste of time. You can create and label some folders and store them away for later use. You might not use them today, but you may want to next week or next month. In time, as you become more experienced and capable as a teacher, you might even want to share those resources with newer staff members in your school. You may be new to your job, but near the end of your first contract, you will be the veteran teacher helping someone new who has started working for your school.

In time, and you will know when, you won’t need to prepare as much. As you become better at managing a class and creating effective lessons and lesson pacing, you won’t have to spend so much time preparing. Again, you will know when this happens. Some people very quickly become comfortable in a classroom environment while other teachers may take some more time.

I always felt more relaxed when I knew I had more than enough activities prepared for my class. You definitely will too.

(This is a brief exerpt from my eBook “Teaching in Asia: Tales and the Real Deal.” If you find this useful, why not download a copy!?)

Here is a video I shot today about the topic of preparing for your lessons:


“Teaching in Asia: Tales and the Real Deal” buzz…..

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Teaching in Asia: Tales and the Real Deal (ON SALE NOW)

You can get your copy today! Just download it from the Amazon Kindle Store here! For now it is only an eBook. I am looking into paper versions, but honestly, as a self-published writer, I don’t think I can afford that route for now.

REMEMBER…if you don’t have a Kindle, you can still read it! Download a free Kindle reader for your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad or Android device here.

Teaching Private Lessons in Korea and Japan

This is a topic many people are curious about before heading overseas to teach.

People have asked me, “Is it true that I can make a lot of money teaching private lessons in Korea and Japan?”

The answer is, “Yes and no.”

In Korea, a teacher can make quite a bit of money teaching private lessons after work or on the weekends, but there is an element of risk. In Korea, if you are working on an E2 or language teacher visa, you are legally, not allowed to teach private lessons. You are only allowed to earn income from your employer. many people do it of course. I even taught private lessons from time to time, but if you are ever caught by officials from immigration, and people are indeed busted, you could face deportation.

In Japan, the situation is quite a bit different. teaching visas are portable. Once a school sponsors you for your visa, you are allowed to moonlight teaching private lessons. Some schools might not like you doing it, but legally, there I nothing they can do. In Japan however, the appetite for English isn’t as strong as in Korea. Also, the pay may be lower.

Here is a video I made for my BusanKevin You Tube channel about the topic:

Podcasts on Korea

If you are planning to head to Japan or Korea to teach, you definitely have to spend some time researching. Packing up your life and moving half way across the world shouldn’t be an unplanned endeavour.

Obviously there are so many blogs and websites you can read. there are also many video bloggers You Tube who can help you learn a thing or two about your future home.

Another great way to research is by listening to podcasts. At the moment there are few active podcasts by teachers in Korea or Japan. A few years ago there were more, but as teachers come and go, so do the podcasts.

One great podcast that will help you learn more about South Korea and teaching there is the Qiranger Adventures Podcast by Steve Miller. Go check it out!

Here is a video I made about his podcast:

I of course cannot go without mentioning the Seoul Podcast. This one has been around for several years and takes a look at current news and social topics in Korea.

*NOTE*  I spent almost 8 hours in the past two days doing final proof reads on the book. I should be able to upload it t the Kindle Store early next week and then preview it and make any formatting changes necessary.

Working for your teacher’s pay

Many people who come abroad every year to Japan or Korea to work as teachers take their new jobs seriously. They Show up early for work to prepare their lessons and work hard to give their students great educational experience.

There are those of course who come abroad expecting their teaching experience to be an extended holiday with pay. They have come to Asia to travel and seek “adventure” and their teaching jobs are merely a means to an end. Working at an eikaiwa, hagown or as an ALT is simply a way to fund their good time abroad.

If you were a school owner, you obviously are making a huge financial investment to bring a foreign teacher to work at your school. The biggest investments are made in Korea where schools pay for a teacher’s airfare, apartment key money and rent as well as their salary. they have paid a lot to have you come over and the very least they expect is a person to act in a professional manner and take their work seriously.

Sadly, each year, “slacker” teacher can give the hard-working ones a bad name.

Check out a video I made on this very topic:

Teaching in Asia videos

As I mentioned in my previous post, the idea for my upcoming book, “Teaching in Asia: Tales and the Real Deal” was born from videos I made about teaching on You Tube. During the past 6 years, I have made many videos. Some have had many views by people interested in the topic and others, not so much.

The book should be ready within a few weeks. It will be the perfect start for anyone interested in moving to South Korea or Japan to begin teaching. Whether you are thinking of a career in ESL or just something to do for a year after graduation, it will definitely be helpful. If you are a teacher in the U.S., Canada, NZ, Australia, England, etc., you may find it interesting as well.

The book will have tips for finding work, information about various types of teaching jobs and help for those of you who are about to become teachers, but have never taught before.

I can’t forget the “Tales” portion of the book. Many people who follow me online do so because they enjoy my storytelling videos. There are plenty of stories in “Teaching in Asia: Tales and the Real Deal” as well. Some are about teaching and others are simply about life in Asia.

Take a few minutes and watch some of my more recent videos about teaching in Asia: