I’ve worked at Foreign Language High Schools, Private Tutoring, and Academies (Cram schools, Hakwons). Here are a couple of lessons I’ve learned, so you don’t have to make the same mistakes.
- Be strict with Korean Students – This means allow them give you respect as a “teacher.” I liked students calling me Paul instead of Mr. Kang, because I was only a couple of years older then them, but they don’t take you as serious if you become too much of their “friend.”
- Don’t become “friends” with your students – Korea is not ready for a “western” mindset in education. Again the lack of respect and violating the code of teacher/student will only cause you problems. I’m into computer gaming, so occassionally I would try to motivate my students by going with them to the local PC bang. They stopped doing homework…
- Have real punishment and accountability – If you say something, you better follow through with what you said or they will keep on pushing the line. Some recommended punishments are calling their parents or … humiliating them in front of the class, in a gentle and respectful way to get them motivated.
- Make a strong/strict first impression – First impressions are important all over the world- especially to Koreans and the Korean students. If you command their respect at the beginning and keep it up, they will listen to directions.
- Korean students lack motivation – Foriegn Language High School students are supposed to be the top of their class, however, some still lack motivation. I’ve used a hybrid approach to carrot-dangling and punishment. This seems to work well. However, I personally think intrinsic motivation is best, but I still haven’t figured out how to teach that yet.
- Qualify your students – don’t let any Joe Kim enter your class. If you have the power to do so. If you have a bunch of trouble makers in class… well that “yeast” will work its way throughout the rest of the class. I like to give insanely hard SAT tests to not only destroy their arrogance, but to humbly help them know they don’t know anything yet.