English Camp Advice: This Might Hurt a Bit

29 Dec

Before my students took of for winter vacation I had little time to do anything besides planning my three-week winter English Camp.

It doesn’t officially begin until January third, so I’m forced to desk warm until then. As I write this post, I am one of maybe four staff members in the building, in addition to a handful of construction workers who seem to be doing little more than walking around speaking into walkie-talkies.

My instructions for the week?

Show up bright and early at my normal time, hang out at my desk for the day, and leave at four thirty. That’s it. It didn’t seem too bad at first, but then I realized there will also be no school lunch served, and the few staff members who do show up only come in for half the day, usually around noon.

Clearly I’m complaining but life’s not all bad. I found a space heater in the closet behind my desk and every couple of hours I go into the teachers lounge and grab some instant coffee. Because there’s almost no one else around I decide to take two packages instead of the customary single I usually slurp down after lunch.

When you’re  forced to warm a desk for eight hours, however, there is only so much Facebook and internet television one can take. I decide to spend some time fine tuning the lesson plans for my upcoming winter camp.

Anyone planning to teach in Korea through EPIK will almost surely have to at least two english camps during their contract; one in the winter and one in the summer. There are several ways this could play out. You may be lucky enough to have a co-teacher who not only teaches the entire camp with you, but plans it out as well (not likely). You may have to teach the camp by yourself with ready made lessons provided by your school. Or–as is my situation–you may be faced with the task of planning and teaching the lesson completely on your own with little notice in advance.

I’m responsible for about 40 hours worth of content over the course of two weeks, with a third week being planned by the conversation teacher. The topics to be covered are completely up to me so at first glance I was quite excited about the possiblilities: start out with a lesson on popular dance moves, spend a couple of days talking about the intricacies of American football, throw in some fancy coloring sheets and board games and finish up with a pizza party. Unfortunately this doesn’t quite cut it.

Naturally I freaked out and went back to the drawing board. With some helpful tips from other teachers in the area and the ESL savior that is waygook.org, I was able to piece together some good shit for my mixed class of 3rd and fourth graders. I’d be lying if I said it was a quick process. Even with working on it during my afternoon down-time, I still ended up putting together a lot of material at home, and I hated almost every second of it, but the finished product turned out alright. True, my students may end up completely hating it, but if it comes down to it, I know more than enough Michael Jackson songs by heart to keep the day at least halfway interesting.

What’s my point with all of this?

Simply that if you’re here to teach and given an English camp to plan out, suck it up and do your job. We’re already given ample opportunity to slack off and be lazy throughout the contract. Indeed, I’m no teaching expert and I’m as lazy as the next man when it comes to churning out real work, but even I can come up with better material than the crap we readily serve up from the textbooks each semester. Plus, this may be one of our last chances to showcase our skills before we’re forced out of a job by English teaching robots (a topic which I will rant about shortly) and faced with returning to our employment deprived home countries.

Think about it.

Ciao,

Kimchi Dreadlocks

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3 Responses to “English Camp Advice: This Might Hurt a Bit”

  1. 3gyupsal December 30, 2010 at 12:57 AM #

    Good luck with that man. It’s always tough at first, but it gets better if you stick with the job. If you are lucky, then in the future the Korean teachers won’t really care that much about what you do, and then you can do the football stuff. I’ve spent a lot of time playing poker and Uno with the past few years. I even bought an American foot ball to practice field goals with, if they don’t let you outside then there is always paper football. That is pretty important cultural stuff anyway, kids have no idea what any of that is about.

  2. Christine KL January 13, 2011 at 3:18 PM #

    Fantastic blog – like the play on words in the title and really liked your link to waygook.com as it was a gateway to even more great teaching stuff. You’re right about putting more effort in classes, we have little lives in our hands and that’s a priviledge.

    My hubby and I just got here and this was helpful. Cheers man!

    • Kimchi Dreadlocks January 13, 2011 at 7:28 PM #

      Glad you enjoy the blog. Waygook is a tremendous resource and I think you’ll find there is a lot more there than teaching resources. Be sure to fully check it out. Good luck on your time here on the peninsula and be sure to drop by the blog from time to time. Thanks for the comment.

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