Student tests, teacher down time


Korean students, in general, do too many tests. From my perspective as a ‘non-teacher’ they don’t really learn. Rote learn but they simply have no time to assimilate what they’ve taken in. “Do they really understand what they’ve learnt?” In terms of spoken English I’d have to give a ‘no’. The speaking tests I’ve just had with them were a case in point.The question sheet, which I gave them in advance, was so that they could learn the form. What got in response from the students was a canned answer. Some of the students, but the others didn’t fair any better in terms of understanding the form.

I found that I could get the students to ask each other the test questions. In that instant, it become a communicative test question and not simply a closed question asked by me. I say this because in the past it was just me and a student going through the questions. Even then there would other students in the room, whispering in de-sotto voices the answers. I don’t exactly discourage this for two reasons: The learning doesn’t stop even when I’m testing; and, even student deserves a fighting chance. Can you speak (English)? Can you speak along the lines of the questions? Suffice to say my goal isn’t really to generate grades or marks, which my supervisor would really have me do, but it’s a test of competence. Even when I hand my supervisor the grades, it’s doesn’t really contribute in any major way. The proportion is too small. It’s like adding a grain of sand to a pile of sand. From an activity point of view, speaking tests are easy to administer, giving me lots of spare time to make lesson plans and the like.

Good-bye Autumn, hello Winter

Asan sunset 1.jpgEver since we moved to the 9th floor of an apartment block, I’ve been taking pictures of the landscape. Sunsets especially. This is one of them, in a series in fact as it turns out taken from late Summer to late Autumn/ early Winter. I would say that it is still only Autumn.

Pink sunset.jpgLooking at the photo I not only see a day that is dying but also an end. The trees are starting to shed their Autumn gowns but also it’s an end to my time in Korea. Since the job is finishing and I’m moving onto China and to better, greener pastures.