Orientation is awesome. When you arrive at your apartment it will either be absolutely awesome or super overwhelming. After checking out your new area for a bit it might hit you… “crap… I’m teaching tomorrow.”
Best is to prepare for this after orientation. It’s fine to play around a bit with ideas etc. but personally I think you’ll have a better idea of what to expect after orientation.
The first week will either be very busy or very quiet!! Depending on your school… Your co-teacher will take you to the immigration office (preferably as soon as possible) to apply for your Alien Registration Card (ARC). This will be like a Korean ID for foreign workers. You need this for almost anything! (Opening more bank accounts, getting cell phone contracts etc). It takes about 2 weeks to get your ARC. You can pay a little extra for them to deliver it to your school.
There’s a lot of other things to sort out too. If you work at multiple schools, your co-teacher might take you to meet with them too. You will probably get your text books and your co-teacher will discuss your workload with you. (What you should teach, your schedule etc.)
Some co-teachers won’t let you teach during the first week (or a few days) to give you time to settle in etc. If you have your text books already you can start lesson planning while you have your “settling in time”. Others might be asked to teach almost immediately. In both these cases, your “introduction lessons” will come in handy here.
Intro lessons are really great to help you get a feel for the English level of your students and simply to break the ice. They are both excited as well as terrified of you. There’s a reason why they call it an ALIEN registration card… Here’s what I usually do at my middle school: (I repeat this every year with my new 1st grade middle school kids. )
I made a PowerPoint (although these days I prefer using Prezi) with a quiz about myself. (***If you use prezi make sure your school PCs are all hooked up with Adobe or you’ll have no lesson. Or use Powerpoint first to be safe) I did not tell my students anything about myself before the quiz. They had to guess. The quiz had questions about me. (Where am I from? What is my favorite color? Does Mari have a brother, a sister, or a brother and a sister? etc.) They were arranged in teams and had to guess the answer (A, B or C). Teams then had to hold up a sign showing A, B, or C. If they were correct I gave them 10 points and the winning team got cheap candies. I had 10 questions and it honestly lasted the entire lesson. I gave them a minute or two to think about the questions, had each team answer and after revealing the answer I discussed it. (example: The answer is B! I have a brother! His name is Wynand and we’re twins. Who knows what a “twin” means?” etc) You can also then use the chance to ask them “Who has a sister?” then choose someone and ask them a bit more. It was a lot of fun!
For the next lessons you can do simple ice breakers. Google will bring up some good things! When you Google, search for something like “ESL ice breakers”. You’ll have a better chance of finding something “lower level” if you include “ESL”. The idea of ice breakers is simply to learn your students names or to (duh) break the ice.
Once you start teaching the text book, it’s a good idea to make notes after the first few lessons. What worked and what didn’t work and how long did it take them to finish a specific kind of activity. I now know that with my students, practicing the dialog takes 5 minutes and circling the correct answers in the activity book takes 3 minutes. It will take time to figure these things out. And yes, you wil fail. Miserably. But it’s part of learning to be a teacher here. Adapt or die. I promise you it won’t be long and you’ll have a class where you walk out thinking “that. was. awesome!!!!!” I still have days where I think a lesson was terrible. It happens.
HOW will I EVER learn their names?!!!
Yep.. that is EXACTLY what it’s like. You can choose to give your students English names if you wish. Just run it by your co-teacher first. I did that once, but I found that if students misbehaved terribly and I had to talk to their homeroom teachers, they had no clue who “John” was… This year I started learning their Korean names and it’s actually not so hard! I made a simple seating chart, the kids wrote their names and I wrote it in English after class. Now I just take the seating chart with me. It doesn’t take long before you start remembering their names. And they LOVE the fact that you know it! Either way, do what you feel comfortable with.
Aaaanyways.. yeah.. your first week will be crazy and will fly by! Be prepared – you MIGHT have assembly and have to introduce yourself to the school.. *surprise!* It’s also very possible that you’ll have a teachers’ dinner one night. They usually start the new semesters off that way. Enjoy it! Live in the moment and have fun!