Two years ago, I left Canada with my wife to start teaching English in Korea. In my two years as a teacher, I have learned many tricks and tactics in the classroom. There is one that is especially helpful that I advocate to everyone I meet. Hopefully, you can find it useful as well.

1) The idea is this: find a way to relate to your students. You will come to Korea as a teacher, but you will at first be seen as a novelty to your students. They will be amazed at how you look and how you act, but after a while the novelty wears off, and your students will not be interested. You have to find a way to keep your students interested in you, and that is by talking about things that are interesting to them. Remember, there is not only a cultural gap between you and your students, but also a cultural barrier, and you need to find a way to bridge that chasm.

2) I’ve found that the easiest way to cross that bridge is to talk about things that are of interest to your students. For example, you might have to one day teach a sentence that goes like this: “Mike and his brother go to school.” You will have to conjugate it maybe, and probably have your students repeat it as well. Change the sentence up instead. Don’t use Mike and his brother. Talk, instead, about G-Dragon and Big Bang.

3) Instantly you will see a change. Your students will know exactly what you are talking about. Remember that “Mike” is not a common name in Korea. I have never met a Korean man named Mike. So your students may look at the question and not know whether it is a boy’s name or a girl’s name, or even a human’s name at all. But, if you use a cultural reference instead, and include an icon they all know, then their chances of success in the classroom improve dramatically, since they will be able to easily understand what you are talking about.

Kpop references in your classroom are perfect for keeping your students interested, and for preventing them from feeling alienated or bored. The formula is quite a simple one: if you find something your students are very interested in, and then use that in your lessons, then your students will, as a result, be more interested in your lessons. Follow this rule, and you will have a much easier time teaching English in Korea.

About the Author

I’ve been teaching in Korea for over two years now. To see how I’ve incorporated Kpop into my lessons, check out my free ESL Lessons over at my blog for Teaching English in Korea.

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