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teaching korean children in the states (and a rant)..

Posted: April 4th, 2008 11:10 am
by holdfast
i didn't know where to post this, so i am just posting this here.

i have started tutoring a 5 year old boy from korea who has lived in america less than a year. he hardly knows any english (even though he goes to the preschool i work at - but that is a completely different story that i am still frustrated about. i will elaborate at the end of the post so you don't have to read my rant if you don't want to). he is the most amazing little boy ever, i must say, but i have never exactly taught english before.. especially not from the very beginning with someone that young.

so my question is, does anyone else have any insight to share with me about how to go about teaching this boy? so far, i try to speak to him with as much english as possible, and i have been teaching him important words and verbs, but his attention span is not very great, and he doesn't know how to read or write, so that makes it even more difficult. does anyone have any experience with this, or know of any good websites for resources? i would appreciate anything...






so, here's the rant about why i am frustrated at peoples' ignorance: i work at a "pretty nice" preschool that is supposed to be one of the best in the area (also one of the most expensive). my boss knows that i can speak korean (at least some). after i have worked there for more than two months they had me go to a different class for part of the day and i happened to talk to the teacher in that room about speaking korean. she told me "oh there's a boy in the next class who doesn't speak english - i don't know where he's from, but i think he's korean." so i went to his class and asked his teacher where he was from, and she also said, "he doesn't speak english, but i don't know where he's from." SHE DIDN'T EVEN KNOW!!!!! that is so frustrating to me... so i went over and said 안녕~ 이름이 뭐예요? and sure enough, he told me his korean name and started talking so fast i couldn't understand him. i talked to him for a little bit and then had to go back to my own class. he was so excited to have someone to talk to! he literally didn't ever talk in class because he couldn't speak english at all, and his teacher apparently wasn't helping him much if she didn't even know enough about him to know where he is from! but it gets more frustrating...
i went and told my boss about this grand encounter, but they didn't really care.. every single day i ask if i can go and at least say hello to him, to help him out a little bit, but not one time have they let me. and that was a few months ago now. it's like, they don't care that i can actually understand this child, and communicate with him, while nobody else can. i mean, how random is it that there is an american who speaks korean at a preschool here? so the only time i ever get to talk to him is if both of our classes are outside at the same time, and then i can talk to him over the fence. frustrating......
but luckily, i met his mother and now i am going to his house once a week to teach him english. not only that, but his parents are pretty outstanding as well, and i am definitely lucky to have met this family. i just wish my boss would understand how much more i could help him if i were able to talk to him more often.... o.k. done ranting now.

Posted: April 4th, 2008 12:58 pm
by hyunwoo
Wow... like you said, what a grand encounter! Sounds like the boy's very shy about having to communicate in a language that's totally new to him.

How to teach him ... :roll: that's a very difficult question, but at the same time, it's fascinating because you can help him so much ! :-)

The youngest student I've taught English privately was 9 years old, and his concentration was almost non-existent - at first I didn't know what I was doing - but later on we just spent time together - and then he suddenly started studying more . hehe.

Maybe you can just try to talk to him more in Korean and let him help you with some English words that he knows - give him confidence and the 'sense of self-pride' for being able to help you. :-) I think that's a way... and as far as what to teach him is concerned, I think you're doing a good job already ;-)

I hope this helps and ... although I know your Korean is very good, if you ever need any kind of help as to ... some specific expressions you'd like to be using to him everyday, let me know anytime! ^^

Posted: April 5th, 2008 3:04 am
by Bouks
Wow, what an amazing story...and I feel your frustration. School systems seem so dysfunctional anymore. I volunteer at my daughter's school, and it's riddled with issues as well.

I am used to tutoring college-level students in English grammar, so I'm not an expert on how to teach children languages. However, I did raise a child and teach her to speak English :) So I'll do my best. I think that you have to a) teach very practical, everyday things, and b) break it down into baby steps. For example, you can take a stuffed bear, and say "here's a bear!" Then find a box..."Here's a box!" And then..."Put the bear in the box!" So he's learned two nouns and a preposition.

You can go on from there. Once he's grasped that..."Take the bear *out of* the box!" Teach him immediate, physical things that you can demonstrate to him, because he won't get many abstract things at that age. If you can eat meals with him, there's a whole bunch of useful material to cover there. But just stop when he looks like he's getting tired. It's probably better to repeat a couple of things several times, than try to do too many things once or twice each.

I'm sure he's absorbing fast, though, and that you'll be a fantastic help to him. Those little minds are like sponges. My daughter went to first grade in France, learning French practically cold...then a few months later she was correcting MY French, which I've spoken for years. Hmmmph! :lol:

Posted: April 5th, 2008 8:19 am
by usakorjb03
sometimes, kids with short attention span, you'll have to try to make the lessons you teach interesting/fun. if you can somehow make a game out of teach english lesson, i'm sure he'll pay more attention. ask him what he likes to do for fun and try to do something with that. there are many ways to teach english or any subject for that matter. you just have to figure out and try things out that would get the attention of kids.

Posted: May 22nd, 2008 2:51 pm
by matthew254
it's a little belated, but for those who might be curious - here's what the best public university in the DFW area has to offer on the subject!

There is a large body of research that supports implicit language is more appropriate for young children as opposed to explicit learning.

Most adults prefer explicit learning but clearly benefit from implicit learning. As adults, we tend to gravitate towards the explicit (textbooks, lecture courses) but end up needing a balance involving implicit (talking in L2 with friends, coworkers) With children, make it closer to a 80% implicit and 20% explicit balance. Introduce words to them but don't get hung up on it. Just allowing them to play and communicate with friends on the playground is essential to healthy language development.

There is another aspect to all this that is true regards of the age - input and output. In a kindergarten class, you'll find that there's a healthy mix of both in most cases. But an example of a high input, low output environment would be a lecture course (think Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller's Day Off)

Posted: May 22nd, 2008 4:20 pm
by shanshanchua
Holdfast (emily?) - I just read this post because Matthew254 commented on it and bumped it up. But I do hope that you are doing great with that cute little Korean boy. I just can't believe that the teachers in your school refused to let you communicate with that little boy. ?!??!?!?!!?!?

Anyway, yup, I agree with matthew about the implicit/explicit balance, and how with little kids, they probably learn more and better with implicit teaching methods, e.g. games, role-play, etc. Of course if you think about babies/toddlers, they learn how to talk purely through listening and observation. But as they grow older, picture cards, books, can come in handy too as teaching materials. I'm homeschooling my 5-year old daughter, and I'm teaching her chinese. It's not so familiar to her since we speak mainly english at home (though we're chinese). I use storybooks a lot, and games, and whatever she says to me in english, i will say the exact same thing back to her in chinese, so that she can pick up the structure of the language. Rhymes and songs also help a lot.. even though they may not understand the words/lyrics, they are capable of memorising the whole thing easily. That helps them to get used to the sounds and they'll also pick up words in the process.

Slow and steady! :)