Opinions and advice needed

May

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Hello,

I'd like to ask for people's opinions and ideas.
I currently work as an ESL teacher in South Korea. One of the classes that I teach is called 'story reading class' and it is basically a reading class where the teacher chooses a book to work through for the month. The teacher pretty much has free reign over the class, we just have to finish the book in one or two months and make our own test for the students at the end. Each class is 40 minutes long and we teach the students twice a week.

My problem, or, rather concern is that there are only two native English speaking teachers and the other English teacher chooses to spend at least 20 minutes talking with students and then just a maximum of 20 minutes on work. The talking is not related to the content in any way. Of course her students love her because they are not doing much work, and because there are only two native teachers I feel I am always compared with her by the students.

What I want to know is this: is it normal to spend so much time just talking about random subjects in such a class? I feel like it's too much, but maybe I'm being too serious? Or should I do the same?
In the teachers room during prep time, I always spend my time preparing for my classes, yet she is always on her phone. It's starting to get really frustrating as she is very well liked by the students and I am not as I expect them to do work.

I'm sorry this is a long query, but I would really appreciate some input on this situation.
 

Tarheel

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"Are the students learning English?" is, I think, the relevant question.
 

May

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"Are the students learning English?" is, I think, the relevant question.
We each teach two classes, I teach 1 and 2 which are the lower classes and she teaches 3 and 4. My level 1 class is definitely improving with their reading a lot. In my level 2 class I feel that some of them are improving but they complain a lot because they are friends with the students in her class and they know that her class has an easier book (even though they are a higher class), and they know that they are just chatting all the time.

Also, I previously taught one of the girls in her class and her reading improved a lot. This girl is a very reluctant reader and only reads during class time, so when they only read for 5 -10 minutes which is sometimes the case, I think this must have an effect on her. The teacher wants to level this girl down, as she is currently failing her tests. Previously, in my class, this girl wasn't failing her tests (again this was with a more difficult book and test), so I think it is having an effect on the students who are particularly reluctant readers. Also, the students have 4 classes a day, as this class is specifically for reading I think it should be more focused on reading.
But my initial question was, am I being too serious in thinking this way? I'm putting in way more work, and just getting stress because of it and the students only appreciate having an easier time and talking nonsense in class.
 
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probus

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Surely it depends on what the goals are. If the goal is to get them through a test such as the IELTS, learning grammar and vocabulary is much more important than conversation. But in my (distant) teaching days our stated goal was to get the students sufficient skills to apply for and retain a factory or labouring job. Therefore we focussed entirely on oral conversation and didn't give a fig about grammar and writing. One of my favorite tactics to get them talking in English was to bring up the subject of football, and we spent a lot of time discussing that.
 

jutfrank

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Is this teacher talking with them in English or Korean?
 

Tarheel

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You as a teacher can only do so much. Why do I say that? Well, the students have to put as much into it as the teachers do. Also, the "strict" teachers might not be appreciated until years later. Life is not fair.

You may now thank me for stating the obvious.😊
 

May

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Surely it depends on what the goals are. If the goal is to get them through a test such as the IELTS, learning grammar and vocabulary is much more important than conversation. But in my (distant) teaching days our stated goal was to get the students sufficient skills to apply for and retain a factory or labouring job. Therefore we focussed entirely on oral conversation and didn't give a fig about grammar and writing. One of my favorite tactics to get them talking in English was to bring up the subject of football, and we spent a lot of time discussing that.
The students are in the last couple of years of elementary school, but this is South Korea the ultimate goal is to get them to be able to pass tests. They have a test in middle school which determines their high school and then the test in high school is THE biggest thing to decide their lives (according to them).

Also, the class mentioned is reading class. We also have a 'speaking and writing' class with them as well. In that class we talk much more and I try to do activities with them so they do speaking in paired work which maximizes each students speaking time.

I get that speaking any English is beneficial, but there is a separate class for it and I'm struggling to understand the benefits to the children in her class. If a class of ten students are all talking and the teacher is too (and obviously some students will talk more than others), then the individual speaking time is very, very little. I don't understand how this is the best use of time?

Thank you for your time answering, I really appreciate any input. I just want the children to improve more than anything and I'm looking for the best ways, so if that means me being more relaxed about this then maybe I will have to try it. But, I am a more serious person and I want to really know about the benefits of that approach before I change tactics.
 
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May

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Is this teacher talking with them in English or Korean?
They're speaking English, so of course it's good that they get to practice speaking but they also have a separate speaking/writing class. In my speaking/writing class we do more speaking and I get them doing paired activities to further maximize individual speaking times in that class.
 

jutfrank

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Well, you either trust that the Korean teacher knows what she's doing and stop worrying about it or you talk to her about your concern.
 

May

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Well, you either trust that the Korean teacher knows what she's doing and stop worrying about it or you talk to her about your concern.
This message shows that you didn't read my message (the teacher is not Korean). It also doesn't answer any of my questions. Well, thanks anyway!
 

Tarheel

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@May Jutfrank made a mistake. It happens!
 

May

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@May Jutfrank made a mistake. It happens!
It's not just A mistake though! It's numerous oversights in a single post!

I came to this forum as I thought it was a place where ESL teachers offered help and advice to each other to enable teachers to teach better. I have asked numerous questions in my posts and nobody has answered a single one. I have obviously been mistaken about what I thought this place was.
 

Tarheel

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Maybe it would be better to ask one question at a time.

Everybody here is a volunteer. We're doing the best we can.

I'm sorry you are disappointed.
 

5jj

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I have asked numerous questions in my posts and nobody has answered a single one.
You have asked about one situation and three members have addressed it.
It's not just A mistake though! It's numerous oversights in a single post!
One oversight.
 

May

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You have asked about one situation and three members have addressed it.

One oversight.
So, perhaps my message was too long.
I described the situation beacuse I wanted to provide background information. And the questions within the message were this:

"What I want to know is this: is it normal to spend so much time just talking about random subjects in such a class? I feel like it's too much, but maybe I'm being too serious? Or should I do the same?
In the teachers room during prep time, I always spend my time preparing for my classes, yet she is always on her phone. It's starting to get really frustrating as she is very well liked by the students and I am not as I expect them to do work."
 

5jj

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It seems that you have only your student's word about what is going on in her class. Perhaps you could have a casual chat with her. I woudn't mention her lack of preparation in school if I were you; you have no idea how much preparation she does at home.
 

jutfrank

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there are only two native English speaking teachers and the other English teacher chooses to spend at least 20 minutes talking with students

I read that as there being two native English speakers and one non-native English speaker, i.e., a Korean speaker. Apparently, I misunderstood.
 
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May

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It seems that you have only your student's word about what is going on in her class. Perhaps you could have a casual chat with her. I woudn't mention her lack of preparation in school if I were you; you have no idea how much preparation she does at home.
I don't have only my students word for it, sometimes I have my break when she has her class so I can hear what's going on. On numerous occasions, I have heard her talking for around about 30 minutes in a 40 minute reading class. Her talking has nothing to do with the work. The quieter students are not contributing to the conversation. The talkative students are getting practice speaking, so, with that, the good thing is that they are improving their fluency, but they are not improving their vocabulary. This is all in a reading class which would further improve their reading and vocabulary if there were more of a focus on the reading. I have overheard her students tell her she is a 'kind' teacher because she "doesn't give them much work". She is doing no preparation in her preparation time, and she is only chatting in her classes, so I can only assume that no preparation is being undertaken at home. Also, she is the type of person that would tell everybody and complain about it if that were the case.

Also, she had a really bad relationship with her previous Korean co-teacher because the Korean co-teacher mentioned something to her before (a different issue). And this created a horrible situation in the teachers room. This teacher would always talk badly about her Korean co-teacher and they both stopped talking to each other until the Korean teacher left (about 7 months of no communication between them).

I realise now that this website is probably not the correct place to post these concerns, but I really need to discuss these issues. If you know of any ESL teachers forums, please let me know.
 
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