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Textbook Stranglehold 
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Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2009 3:39 pm
Posts: 1
Post Textbook Stranglehold
I don't intend for this post to be a rant of any kind. I am employed in Korea in a Hagwon (private language academy) and as far as my employer, contract, housing, and all the most important things go, I am luckier than most anybody I know. My problems are extremely few, but I find just this one aspect of teaching frustrating, so I'm seeking advice.

Every day I teach 7 classes that are 35 minutes in length. Most of my students' "speaking" class with me comprises cranking out a unit in the textbook, with the leftover time spent playing a few rounds of hangman or pictionary. However, my adademy is a franchise, and the textbooks (and therfore the class levels) are set by another school in the city. My students are obviously at a much lover level than the students at this other school, and almost never understand their material. My boss told me this week not to worry about covering as many units in the textbooks, but gave all classes a cryptic companion workbook that I have to now concentrate on teaching.

I doubt students who do not understand their textbook material will be able to complete workbook exercises on that same material, and this doesn't even cover the sorely-lacking "speaking" element of my class.

Can anyone see a way out of the textbook stranglehold?


Fri Nov 06, 2009 6:42 pm

Joined: Sat Aug 22, 2009 8:35 pm
Posts: 48
Location: Germany
Hi ji-hye!

This is really a problem you have.
My suggestion might seem a bit revolutonary, but I can see no other way out.
Your boss should see sense and that there is no use in teaching material which is too high in level for the students.
If the textbook has got other copies for lower levels, I would suggest, just try and get hold of this and begin at a lower level.
Or try and get some other material at a lower level.

So that one fine day your students will be able to use the textbook your boss wants them to use.

Well, sorry if that sounds a bit anarchical, but how can anyone how is supposed to know about teaching force a teacher to stick to a coursebook which doesn't match the level of the students?

I wish you the best of luck!!

The worst sin when teaching is being boring.

Fri Nov 06, 2009 9:37 pm
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:46 am
Posts: 2130
Location: Nagano, Japan
Tough situation. Like Keepie said the only way to really help your students would be to rebel against the system and slow down or even back up. However, you'd be putting your job at risk. Ask your boss to sit in on a lesson and let him/her see what's happening. Maybe then some of your ideas and suggestions will carry more weight.

Is there any way to get their level lowered? If you have to continue at a pace of 1 unit per lesson, can you go back a year or so?

Sometimes what we feel is best for the students (ie speaking) isn't what the parents and society of that culture necessarily values. Even though they may go to a conversation school, speaking might not be the top priority. If you are sure they aren't gaining anything from the classes and it's not just that you simply don't agree with the style, then ...

The only other idea I have is spend the period working with them and covering the materials. Then, have them do the workbook exercises as homework. I don't know if that will please the students much but it's an option.

Also, and this is sketchy advise, you could give them the workbook answers to check their answers on their own "after they've finished the exercises" as homework. Eventually they'll just start copying the answers and you can spend class time working on what will help the students. They will complete their requirement for the after school program and you can focus on helping them improve their English at the pace and level they need.

Again, that's pretty questionable and worth a good think over before you go that route. It's subtle defiance and if challenged, you'll need to be able to substantiate what you actually did in class. Aditionally, you'll still be putting your job at risk.

I debated erasing all of that and trying again with better PC advise, but to be honest, the above is probably what I would do.

Build up! Be positive! Teach hard!

Fri Nov 06, 2009 10:36 pm
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