How to Teach English to Korean Children

Start by teaching your students the Latin alphabet.

Some cultures take to English language learning with more enthusiasm and discipline than others. If you are fortunate enough to be an English as a Second Language Teacher in a classroom of Korean students, the part of the lesson where you fill your students with enthusiasm and herd them into a coherent group is mostly done for you. Korean culture places a huge amount of value on learning English and instills a deep respect for the teaching profession.

Teach your students the Latin alphabet first using flash cards or the white board if they are beginners. Instruct your students in the individual letters and sounds before introducing them to more complex vowel and consonant combinations.

Sing songs to advance your students to English pronunciation. Many of your students will be familiar with popular English children's songs like Happy Birthday and many Christmas songs.

Use exercises that focus on syllables to teach your students vowel and consonant clusters. Examples of such exercises include composing a haiku (a type of poem built around syllables), deconstructing the lyrics of a song, or activities like clapping out the sounds in a word. Include sounds, music and movement whenever space and time permits. This will help them become familiar with the pronunciation, including sounds and stress.

Utilize computer and online resources as often as possible, as Korean students of all ages (even kindergartners and some pre-schoolers) are familiar with computers and will be comfortable with this medium. Computers with Windows-based operating systems are preferable. Koreans will have computers and Internet connections at home, so this can also be assigned as homework. A Korean student unfamiliar with computers and the Internet would be very unusual, as this is an integral part of their culture. There are numerous resources available online. In fact, there are so many co-operative and university-based websites available that you might have trouble choosing between them. You can also compose your own computer-based lessons with programs such as Hot Potatoes or ExE.

Use computers for more than just online exercises and games. Subtitled videos and media players that can be used for record and playback are also readily available on most computers, and they can still be used without an Internet connection.

  • Whether you are teaching at a public or private school, in or outside Korea, parents take their students education seriously and you will be expected to give regular updates. Always be as complimentary as possible to avoid "loss of face."
  • The literacy rate in Korea is 99 percent. This is because Hangul, the native tongue, has a simple, but sophisticated alphabet that is taught using pictures and traceable letters. You can use this same tactic when teaching beginners the Latin alphabet, hence the flash cards. These can be substituted with photocopies or even letters and sketches in the white board. Koreans also have a vibrant computer culture. Many of your students will be avid online gamers and adept computer users, so any exercises using a computer will be well-received.

Kristy Ambrose enjoys writing about teaching, travel and pet care. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Victoria.