Tuesday 28 May 2013

Hot Topic: Should You Tell Your Students Their Grades?

Here in Korea we have a grade notification period and a grievance period. Since being highly organised is one of my traits (good or bad, you choose), I always know my students grades a little bit before the grading period starts. In the past I have usually given them their class rank and grade.

Since the university where I worked before had a very lenient grading curve and because I'm a nice teacher, half of my students would end up with As and 40% would get Bs. More likely than not all of those As and Bs would be A+s and B+s as well. Only 10% of my students would get a C+ or below. That's a pretty good curve. However, it just goes to show how useless grades have become since they're so inflated.

The university required students to evaluate their teachers before they could see their grades. I found out that when students knew their grades ahead of time they tended to give me a lower evaluation; revenge perhaps. If they didn't know their grade than it couldn't skew their evaluation. Because it seems that teachers get higher evals if they don't tell students their grades, most of the teachers I know downright refuse to tell their students their grades ahead of time, even if they have everything graded and ready.


Sunday 26 May 2013

Quick Tip: Dealing with Culturally Sensitive Topics and Annoying Questions

From sajeevkmenon.wordpress.com
Having lived abroad for over a decade I've developed a thick skin. I haven't had to deal with too many annoying remarks due to my looks. I'm short, tend to blend in with the locals as long as I wear sunglasses and am rather slim.

However, there are still people who persist in asking annoying questions, saying rude things, or simply things that are totally culturally inappropriate for English speakers to have to hear. Locals and foreigners alike may ask you these questions. People who know you well like your boss and co-workers or friends might ask you these questions. Even people you barely know like taxi drivers or random people may feel compelled to voice their opinions. You might even get these questions when interviewing.

Types of Questions and Remarks
Here are some rude questions or remarks. They may be culturally ok in the country where you are living, but English speakers don't want to talk about these things.
  • How much do you weigh?
  • Why don't you stop eating so much?
  • You should exercise 
  • Are you Christian?
  • How much do you make?
  • Do you think I'm fat?
  • How old do you think I am?
  • Do you think I'm pretty / handsome?
  • Do you take medication?
  • How much were your shoes / shirt / etc?
  • How old are you?
  • Do you have / why don't you have a boyfriend / girlfriend?
  • Are you / why aren't you married?
  • Do you have / why don't you have kids?
  • When are you going to have (more) kids?
  • Have you had plastic surgery?
  • Why did you answer my phone call / return my email?
You might also have people ask you very uncomfortable questions.
  • What do you think about Tibet / Taiwan / etc?
  • What do you think of your / our president?
  • Any religion topic
  • Political topics
Or annoying questions like this:
  • Can you get me a visa to the UK / US / Canada?
  • How can I better my English? (You tell them and they always ask for more suggestions!)
Here are 10 ways to deal with these questions and remarks.
  1. Be direct. Saying something like "Are you trying to be rude / hurt me?" or "I feel insulted" or "Why are you attacking me?" can often work. You can also try scolding them and saying, "That's a very rude question / remark to say to Americans / Canadians, etc. or saying "Show a bit of decency" while narrowing your eyes. This often embarrasses them and causes them to apologise.
  2. Use humour. Try cracking a joke or making fun of yourself. Some people try to get a rise out of you and if it doesn't work they move on. 
  3. Don't answer. Tell them that your contract won't let you reveal your salary because you signed a confidentiality agreement. You could say that you would rather not answer, or that it's a personal matter, or that you don't like to talk about it.
  4. Be non-committal: You don't have to be specific. If they want to know how much you make you can say that you make enough or that everyone always wants to make more than they do.
  5. Turn the question back to them. This works really well. If you shrug your shoulders and just give a non-committal hmm and then ask them the same question you're putting them on the spot just like they did with you. 
  6. Ask them why they want to know. If they ask how much your shoes were you could say, "Why do you ask?" You could also say, "Is it important?"
  7. Admit defeat. If they're calling you fat or scolding you for getting married simply say they're right. Don't argue with them. 
  8. Embarrass them. While not ethical, sometimes you might get so sick of a hearing the same question over and over that you'll do anything to make people stop asking. If they ask why you're not married, say you're gay or that your spouse died. They want to know why you don't have kids? Say that you're impotent. 
  9. Plead incomprehension. This works really well. Tilt your head and look confused and say, "Sorry, I don't understand." Keep it up for a bit and they should drop the question.
  10. Pass the buck. I can't even begin to count how many times I've been asked how someone can better their English or where they should study in the US. I used to answer, but it seemed no answer was good enough. Now I tell them to ask their teacher, counselor, or look online.
You might also enjoy Will Wiggle's post about answering inappropriate questions.


Friday 24 May 2013

Job Site: Move and Stay

While it's mainly dedicated to providing people with serviced apartments, Move and Stay also has lists of international schools around the world. What you'll have to do is choose a city, then go to relocation tools, then to international schools and universities.

Keep in mind that these are not current openings, but just a list of international schools and universities in that city. You'll have to contact them for more info. Or better yet, try to attend an international school job fair if possible.

Got an idea for a job site?
Email me with your job site, name, and website (if you have one) and I'll post it ASAP.


Wednesday 22 May 2013

Quick Tip: Greet and Say Good-bye to Your Class

From commentsyard.com
I've worked in schools that require students to stand up at the beginning of class and bow to their teacher or say good morning to their teacher and I never really liked it. I thought it was superficial and I never did it.

I'd always just start class by telling my students to open their books. One day I did that and one student loudly said, "good morning teacher" and really put me in my place. I also then read that saying good morning teaches respect. It also might be the only time they speak to an adult (which I think might be debatable, but still).

I decided to start saying good morning or good afternoon to my class as well as finishing up the class by saying good-bye. I think it's worth it. It lets the students know that I respect them. It also clearly marks the beginning and end of each class. It's something that I think all teachers should do.


Monday 20 May 2013

Hot Topic: Quality vs. Quantity in TEFL

From darrenkaltved.wordpress.com
Some people live for quantity, take Wal-mart for example. More and more people want more bang for their buck, but as a result quality is suffering. You know how women open their bulging closets and whinge that they have nothing to wear? That's because they have quality vs. quantity issues.

I did the same thing. Now I've got a few clothes, but they're good quality. They were more than I paid for clothes before, but I wore them more and felt good in them. I also got more bang for my buck. So before I'd spend, let's see $25 on a top and wear it twice a season, making the cost per wear $12.5. Now I'd spend $50 on a top, but wear it at least 10 times per season, making the cost per wear $5.

I promist that this has to do with TEFL.

Now I'm not saying that more expensive items are better quality. Cheaply priced items can be good quality and expensive items can be of crappy quality. Many times items are more expensive because they have higher advertising costs, like luxury brand items (Prada, Burberry, etc).

So how does this relate to TEFL?

Time in class: Simple, schools tend to go for quantity rather than quality. Take classes for example, you have to teach for X number of minutes. Sometimes teachers finish early but aren't allowed to let their students go because the class time isn't up. So what do they do? They use fillers. The name alone should tell you that often their only purpose it to fill up time (Hangman anyone?).

Books: Another example is finishing the book. Students might have to work too slowly or rush through a chapter simply so that it can be checked off the list. The admin isn't too concerned about the results so long as they finish what's on the syllabus.

Teachers' salaries: How about costs? That's pretty simple. Schools often want to pay a teacher as little as they possibly can. Lesson quality can suffer because of that. Teachers can suffer as well since they get into pricing wars. Well-qualified teachers are having to take pay cuts simply because schools aren't willing to pay them what they're worth. Schools know this and offer pitiful salaries which teachers are forced to accept if they want to work at all.

What does it all mean?
Schools need to focus on quality. Plain and simple. If students finish a lesson early, they should be able to go home. If they take a bit longer to understand the concepts, then the syllabus should change. And finally, schools should stop paying teachers slave wages.


Saturday 18 May 2013

Teachers Have Few Rights If They're Independent Contractors

From carolinaaccounting.com
There's a famous hagwon here in Korea which likes to hire teachers as independent contracts. CDI, or Chungdam Institute, one of the top hagwons in Korea regularly does this.

While some people like this since there are less deductions, no health insurance or pension is taken out, other people dislike it for this exact reason. Here's the low down on ICs (independent contractors).
  • No housing
  • No pension (you have to pay the employer and employee contribution)
  • No health insurance (you have to pay the employer and employee contribution)
  • No severance
  • No maternity leave
  • No guarantee that they will allow you to add jobs to your visa
  • No paid vacation
  • Paid per hour so could make decent money
Here are some more articles about ICs in Korea.
  • ESLCafe: Independent Contractor - making it work for you.
  • ESLCafe: Please clear up this independent contractor busin
  • Hi Expat: Chungdam, Native English teachers in dispute


Friday 17 May 2013

Life Insurance for Overseas Teachers

Updated 15 March 2016

Basic Info About Life Insurance
Coverage is supposedly 10 times your yearly salary before deductions. Allstate offered me a $250,000 one, but Huntley Wealth said a $500,000 would be much better since this year with all the extra classes I'll be making much more than $25,000. If you have two incomes, yours and your partner's, that's something else to take into consideration.

Term life insurance is for a fixed number of years and payments don't go up. So if you have a 10 year term it's good for 10 years and then you have to apply again.

It's hard to get term policies in Asia. Whole life is more common because of the investment / retirement benefits and coverage is forever even though premiums stop at 60 or 65. There are also tax advantages to whole life.

Some counties might provide life insurance if you pay into a pension plan. For example, if you pay into the Korea Teachers' Pension Fund you are automatically enrolled in their life insurance.
Recommend Life Insurance Companies
AIG was recommended by tttompatz and said it cost about $500 a year.

I called Allstate on July 16th 2012 and arranged for life insurance ($250,000 for me and $20,000 for my daughter) at the total cost of $23 a month. The next day they took the money out of my account and a week later I had a medical. On July 27th 2012 I received a check for $23 with no explanation other than "closeout refund". I had asked them if they cover Americans overseas and they said it was no problem. I called and no one could tell me why my policy was cancelled. After being transferred for the third time I was told it was because I lived overseas. I told them I had said that when I applied and they said they had no more information.

BUPA was recommended by tttompatz.

Clements: They quoted me $219 for 250K which is the max I could take out. It's five times your annual income. I went with this company.

Expat Financial is another company that specialises in people who live overseas. They seem to be a part of TFG Global.

Expat Global Medical - I have no direct experience with them.  

On August 1st, 2012 I called Huntley Wealth and was told that Prudential is the way to go. The plan is with Pruco Life Insurance Company which is part of Prudential. They have an article about their services. You can call them on 877-443-9467. The problem is that you have to be IN the US when you apply and receive their life insurance and it takes about 6 weeks to do so. tttompatz also recommends them and said they're about $300 a year but didn't include a medical rider - it was just term life.

Orion International Insurance Services: I contacted Expat Financial, who told me to contact TFG Global who told me to contact Orion.

On July 30th 2012 I called State Farm and they said no. BUT if I had opened an account with them before I left the US it would still be good, however, since I already live overseas it wouldn't.

TFG Global: I was referred to them by Expat Financial. Since my home address is in the US, they referred me to Orion International Insurance Services.

William Russell might be able to help people out. For a 20 year term of $300,000 it would be around $400 a year. I contacted them in spring of 2012 and for a $500,000 policy, it would be $690. At that time, they require a certified copy of your passport, a recent utility bill, and tons of paperwork. However, since then they have updated their website, application process, and claims procedure and made it easier.


Tuesday 14 May 2013

Job Site: Association of Christian Schools International

There are many types of international schools out there, and the Association of Christian Schools International focuses on a specific sector. Their website has lots of information for schools, educators, and students. They also have information about programmes, resources, and jobs available.

Their jobs section is divided into US Edu Calling, Canadian Employment, International Employment, and ACSI employment. No matter if you're looking to work at home or abroad, ACSI is sure to have a position that will suit you.

Got an idea for a job site?
Email me with your job site, name, and website (if you have one) and I'll post it ASAP.


Saturday 11 May 2013

Pay Attention in Class!

From slatervecchio.com
I wrote about how I had stopped shouting in class, but I still struggle with students' lack of respect and attention. Talking while I'm talking, talking while other students are answering questions, texting, sleeping, and not paying attention get to me. I'm not saying that I want to be the centre of attention, don't get me wrong. I'm all for learner-centred environments, but students are being flat-out rude.

At the end of my rope the other day I asked my advanced class if it was rude or acceptable in their culture to talk while other students were in the front of the room presenting. Shockingly enough they were honest and said it was acceptable. Fine. I realise I'm fighting culture, but in my class, it's an English class, so they're going to learn about culture in English speaking countries. I feel like I have to get a Native American talking stick. You hold the stick, you talk. Lesson learned: one person speaks at a time!

Moving on, the lovely multitasking-I'm-attached-to-my-phone has also got to go. Ok, I know that I said I have surrendered to cell phones and I have, but wishful thinking can't hurt. I have used cell phones in lessons and students like it, but there's a time and a place. Research shows that multitasking like emailing, listening to music, surfing the net, etc. wastes time, causes students to learn less, and lowers their GPA.

Remember the saying, "Jack of all trades, master of none?" Same thing applies here. Lesson learned: stop multitasking!


Friday 10 May 2013

Common TEFL Acronyms

Updated 13 June 2014

Here is a list of commonly used TEFL acronyms compiled from ESL Base, iteslj, Gone2Korea, Teaching ESL to Adults, and TEFL.net.

  • 5W's = Who, What, Where, When and Why 
  • 4 Skills = Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking
  • ABD = All But Dissertation (meaning you've done the coursework for a PhD or EdD)
  • ACTFL = American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (USA) 
  • ADOS = Assistant Director of Studies
  • AOP = Academic Oral Presentations
  • APA = American Psychological Association
  • ARELS = Association of Recognised English Language Services
  • ASD: Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • BASELT = British Association of State English Language Teaching
  • BE = Bilingual Education / Business English
  • BEC = Business English Certificate
  • BC = British Council 
  • BULATS = Business Language Testing Service
  • CAE = Certificate in Advanced English, Cambridge Advanced English
  • CALL = Computer Assisted Language Learning 
  • CALLA = Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach 
  • CALP = Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency 
  • CBC = Criminal Background Check
  • CBI = Content Based Instruction 
  • CEELT = Cambridge Examination in English for Language Teachers
  • CELTA = Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults 
  • CELTYL = Certificate in English Language Teaching to Young Learners
  • CILT = Centre for Information of Language Teaching and Research
  • CLIL = Content and Language Integrated Learning
  • CLL = Community Language Learning 
  • CLT = Communicative Language Teaching 
  • CRC = Criminal Record Check
  • CPE = Cambridge Proficiency Examination
  • CTESOL = Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
  • DELTA = Diploma in English Language Training to Adults
  • DOS = Director of Studies
  • DL = Distance Learning 
  • DPhil = Doctorate of Philosophy
  • DTEFLA = Diploma in the Teaching of English as a Foreign Language
  • EAL: English as an Additional Language
  • EAP = English for Academic Purposes 
  • ECIS = European Council of International Schools
  • EdD = Doctor in Education
  • EFL = English as a Foreign Language (Studying English in non-English-speaking countries) 
  • ELI = English Language Instructor
  • ELL = English Language Learner 
  • ELICOS = English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students
  • ELT = English Language Teaching (or sometimes Training)
  • EMT = English Mother Tongue
  • EMI = English as a Medium of Instruction
  • EP = Transitional English Proficiency 
  • EPIK = English Programme in Korea
  • ESAC = English in Specific Academic Contexts
  • ESL = English as a Second Language (Studying English as a non-native speaker in a country where English is spoken.) 
  • ESOL = English to Speakers of Other Languages (Note: ESL and EFL are often used interchangeably.) 
  • ESP = English for Specific Purposes / English for Special Purposes / English Speaking Environment
  • EST = English for Science and Technology 
  • EX: Exam Classes
  • FCE = First Certificate in English
  • FEC = Foreign Expert Certificate
  • FEP = Fluent English Proficient (or Proficiency) 
  • FES = Fluent English Speaker GTM = Grammar Translation Method
  • FLT = Foreign Language Teaching 
  • GEPIK = Gyeonggi-do English Programme in Korea
  • GET =  Guest English Teacher
  • HOD = Head Of Department
  • IATEFL = International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (UK) 
  • ICELT = In-service Certificate in English Language Teaching
  • IDLTM = International Diploma in Language Teaching Management
  • IELTS = International English Language Testing System
  • IEP = Intensive English program 
  • IH = International House
  • IPA = International Phonetic Alphabet (or Association)
  • KET = Key English Test
  • L1 = "Language 1" = the student's native (primary or first acquired) language. 
  • L2 = "Language 2" = the language being learned or studied 
  • LDT = Language Development Training
  • LEP = Limited English Proficiency (or Proficient) 
  • LES = Limited English Speaker 
  • LL = Language Lab 
  • LMS = Language Minority Student 
  • LOS = Letter of Release
  • LS = Language Support
  • LSA = Language Skills Assignment 
  • LSAC = Listening and Speaking in Academic Contexts
  • LSP = Languages for Special Purposes
  • MLA = Modern Language Association 
  • MLAT = The Modern Language Aptitude Test 
  • MOE =  Ministry of Education, Metropolitan Office of Education
  • MONO: Monolingual
  • MULT = Multilingual
  • NCTE = National Council of Teachers of English (United States of America) 
  • NEP = Non English Proficient (or Proficiency) 
  • NESE = Non-English Speaking Environment
  • NET = Native English Teacher
  • NNS = Non-Native Speaker 
  • NS = Native Speaker 
  • OH = Office hours
  • OND = On Demand
  • PET = Prelimiary English Test
  • PGCE = Post Graduate Certificate in Education
  • PhD = Doctor in Philosophy
  • POE = Provincial Office of Education 
  • PR  = Permanent Residency
  • QTS = Qualified Teaching Status
  • RP = Resident Permit
  • RSA = Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce
  • RWAC = Reading and Writing in Academic Contexts
  • SLA = Second Language Acquisition 
  • SMOE =  Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education
  • SR = Special Requirements
  • STT = Student Talking Time Time
  • TALK =  Teach and Learn Korea
  • TBA = To Be Announced
  • TBC = To Be Confirmed
  • TEFL = Teaching English as a Foreign Language 
  • TESL = Teaching English as a Second Language 
  • TESOL = Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc.
  • TKT = Teaching Knowledge Test
  • TOEFL = Test of English as a Foreign Language 
  • TOEIC = Test of English for International Communication
  • TL = Target Language 
  • TPR = Total Physical Response 
  • TPRS = Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling
  • TSE = Test of Spoken English
  • TTT = Teacher Talking Time 
  • TWE = Test of Written English 
  • UCLES = University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate
  • VESL = Vocational English as a Second Language 
  • VYL  = Very Young Learners
  • YL = Young Learners 
  • YLE = Young Learners English 


Thursday 9 May 2013

I Am From Korea

From mmebonfils.free.fr
It never fails. I teach in Korea and about 99% of my students are from Korea. They are all Korean, but a handful of them were born in China. It gets me when I ask where they're from and they say Korea. If you were back home and people asked where you were from, you'd name a city or area. If you're speaking in Korean, you'd do the same.

Yet you could go around an entire class and ask students where they were from and they'd all say they were from Korea. I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry!


Wednesday 8 May 2013

Writing Your Own Reference Letters

From finkorswim.com
A couple of years ago I wrote about how to get a good reference letter from your employer. What I've noticed is that more and more DOSes and head teachers aren't willing to write reference letters.

While I understand that non-native speakers might shy away from writing reference letters in English (however, there's nothing stopping you from proof-reading their reference letter before they sign it), I don't understand why native and near-native English speakers don't want to write them. First of all, it's part of their job. I understand that they're busy, but as part of the management or admin team, they should fulfill their responsibilities. I also understand that they might not know you that well, especially if you're in a big school, however, they could still write a simple recommendation letter with your help.

What I've found is that people are being asked to write their own reference letters. This can be good and bad.

  • You can write wonderful things about yourself (Some employers won't even read them before they sign).
  • It'll have perfect English.
  • It'll have all the info that you want it to have.
  • You can write a bunch and personalise them for different employers and all your boss has to do is sign.

  • Reference letters aren't worth much.
  • If you have to write a lot of your own reference letters, they can look very similar.
  • It's more work for you.
  • You won't know what your boss really thinks about you.


Tuesday 7 May 2013

Poll Results April 2013: Do you speak the local language?

April's poll was "Do you speak the local language?" Here are the results.
  • Nope: 0% with 0 votes
  • Enough to get by: 100% with 1 vote
  • Yep: 0% with 0 votes
Be sure to vote in next month's poll: Do you belong to a professional organisation?


Monday 6 May 2013

Pros and Cons of Teaching Content Courses

From sustain.inside.tru.ca
Some teachers think that teaching content / subject courses is much better than teaching the 4 skills and in fact look down on those who teach the 4 skills. There are a variety of content courses out there.
  • They can be extensions of English courses, such as presentation or academic writing.
  • They can be subjects within the students' normal classes, such as math or science.
  • They can English for Specific Purposes, like Aviation English. 
There are advantages and disadvantages to teaching these types of courses. Many schools, from elementary to university are trying to teach subject courses in English to up their ratings. Let's assume that these courses are taught be a native or near-native English speaker and not a local teacher who barely speaks English but is required to teach in English so just stumbles over the words as they read from the textbook.

  • More rewarding for the teacher and the students.
  • Students may be more motivated.
  • Teachers might get higher evals if the students have a high level of English.
  • Teachers can use a higher level of English in these types of courses.
  • More work for the teacher.
  • May be too difficult for the student.
  • Teachers might get lower evals if it's a required course but the English is too high for the students.
  • Students might feel resentful because they are trying to learn about their major and not English. They also might be required to buy two books: one in English and a translation.


Sunday 5 May 2013

Why I Stopped Shouting in Class

From blog.jessicaharper.com
Invariably it'll happen to you if it already hasn't. You try to get your students' attention, but there are 20 or more of them and only one of you. So what do you do? You shout, raise your voice, trying to drown them out. It's no fun to do that. It strains your voice and shouting simply isn't nice.

I've stopped shouting. I can't compete with 25 students and it just adds to the noise level. Depending on your students' age there are a couple things you can try.
  • Start off strict
  • Make sure they know the rules and give them to students on paper
  • Ring a bell
  • Give pop quizzes with a pass / fail grade
  • Play music
  • Clap your hands
  • Do a motion / signal, ex. hands on your head or finger to your lips
  • Stand in front of the class silently
  • Count down
  • Write "Please be quiet" on the board
  • Sit at your desk in a power stance, ex. steepled hands 
  • Take points off their participation grade (doing homework, doing classwork and participation, staying awake, not using cell phones (except during activities when they have permission), being polite, coming to class (absences: excused or unexcused will cause them to lose points), bringing materials (originals only, no copies allowed and without answers so they can't buy used books off their "seniors")
  • Separate students and give them assigned seats
  • Talk normally
  • Make students earn their As
I have recently started to simply stand in front of the class and start talking normally. Sometimes the class quiets down quickly, other times it takes longer. Usually you have the people in front start quieting down first. They open their books and start paying attention. They may start shushing the rest of the students or the rest of the students may simply follow their peers' lead. Either way it works out in the end. If you do this, talk slowly or talk about another related subject. If you go over all of the directions before everyone is paying attention more likely than not you will have to repeat yourself all over again


Saturday 4 May 2013

Do You Speak Korean?

From worknplay.co.kr
This question really galls me. I used to think that people living in a foreign country should learn the language, however, my views about learning the local language have changed. I have learnt the local languages of countries I have lived in before and now I'm choosing not to learn Korean.

Don't get me wrong, I've tried. I enrolled in a language class immediately after I got here, but everyone spoke Korean. The only reason they were in the lowest level was they couldn't read. I've try to take other classes, but they conflict with my schedule. Going after work isn't an option since I have a child to take care of. Which brings me to my next point, I'd much rather spend time with her than with a book. Korean will always been there, she won't always be cute and little. I'll have plenty of time to study when she's a teenager and wants nothing to do with me.

Another thing that annoys me is that people aren't really helpful. I try to speak Korean and they look at me like I'm an alien, cross their hands in front of them, or switch to English.

I've given up to be honest. When calling on the phone I get yobusayo-ed. I used to say, "English?" only to have them continue yobusayo-ing me. Now I speak as much English as quickly as I can, saying something along the lines of "I don't speak any Korean at all, please transfer me to someone who speaks English because I don't speak Korean and I need to talk to someone who speaks English." This usually gets an "oh, chamganmanyo" and I get transferred to an English speaker or they take down my number and an English speaker gets back to me.

What I still don't get is when talking to people on the phone they ask me, in Korean, if I speak Korean or if there's a Korean speaker they can talk to (while I don't speak Korean, I can understand a bit). To this I always respond, "If I spoke Korean don't you think I'd be speaking to you in Korean?" or "If there were a Korean speaker here, don't you think I'd give them the phone?" This usually gets me transferred to an English speaker. Only once did I get a guy who laughed right after this and proceeded to then answer my questions in perfect English.


Thursday 2 May 2013

Hot Topic: Does Your School Own the Material You Create?

From blog.ciaraballintyne.com
In many contracts schools state that they own the rights to any and all material you create while working with them. Is it legal? It depends on the country you're in and what you're using it for. Some countries are well-known for breaking copyright laws left and right and intellectual property laws can be a mess.

Now let's suppose that you decide to re-use material you created while working at a past job, just how could your ex-employer know about it? Chances are pretty slim that they'd find out.

What if they did find out? How could they prove that you created that item while under contract with them? If they collected your materials (and didn't throw them away) that would be one way. However, you could always claim that you created it while at another past job and not while working for them.

What happens if they can prove that you made something while under contract with them, that they own the rights, and you're breaking country? Well, they might take you to court over it. Chances are this would only happen if you were trying to make a profit off it, by selling it or publishing it. Using it in another class probably won't get you into trouble, after all, there are laws that protect teachers and allow them to use copyrighted material for educational use. Hopefully you'd be able to get out of it by apologising or in the worse case fleeing the country. If you're clearly in the wrong, then you had better lawyer up and pay the consequences.

To make sure that you don't get taken to court, find out if schools can legally own the material you create while working for them. And if they do have the right to it, and you want to re-use it in the future, make sure that you keep all your material (don't give anything to students, teachers, or admin) to yourself. Better yet, to make sure you're not breaking the laws, if you want to re-use material in the future, change it a little bit and make it different than the material you created while working for them.


Wednesday 1 May 2013

Never Going Back Home

This article has been published in the spring issue of The Teacher Trainer.


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