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  • APH
  • Veteran

    • 77

    • November 17, 2018, 12:32:33 pm
    • Seoul
Set curriculum or more freedom, what do you prefer?
« on: April 29, 2019, 01:18:54 am »
Interested to hear peoples take on this. What’s your preference when it comes to working with set curriculums as opposed to being given freedom to teach whatever you want.

What I mean by this is, when a school says to you “here’s the textbooks for every class, work through them” so you know each class you’ll be doing some textbook pages and then coming up with supplementary activities and worksheets based on the page topic you’re doing that day.

Or do you prefer it when the school says you can decide the topics, or when the class you teach doesn’t have a textbook. So you’re free to make whatever material you want.

Personally, as someone who likes to have a set structure and organisation wherever I work, I’d say I probably prefer working with a more structured curriculum. I know some people like to have the freedom to create their own lesson content but for me it just takes up so much time constantly coming up with new ideas and spending time making pages and pages of worksheets. So I like always having the textbook to fall back on and having that as a base to come up with the rest of my material.


  • JVPrice
  • Expert Waygook

    • 786

    • August 29, 2017, 10:26:13 am
    • Cheongju
Re: Set curriculum or more freedom, what do you prefer?
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2019, 08:02:24 am »
I'm personally not a very creative type, so I prefer that there be a structure to follow since it helps me figure out what to teach and how to plan out the semester.

Of course, having to do textbook sections every class can be tiring for students. A little freedom can go a long way.
The World Ends With You


  • Kayos
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1298

    • March 31, 2016, 07:13:57 pm
    • NZ
Re: Set curriculum or more freedom, what do you prefer?
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2019, 08:28:36 am »
I'm personally not a very creative type, so I prefer that there be a structure to follow since it helps me figure out what to teach and how to plan out the semester.

Of course, having to do textbook sections every class can be tiring for students. A little freedom can go a long way.

Me too. I'm not very creative, so I prefer structure myself.
However, I do like to have enough freedom to do something fun every now and then.


Re: Set curriculum or more freedom, what do you prefer?
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2019, 10:13:43 am »
When I came to my school I realised that the textbook material was way too advanced for the students' level so I just didn't bother and made my own material aimed at their level.

In their English classes with the Korean teacher, they get worksheets which translate everything in the textbook into Korean so they can understand it.  I can't speak Korean so that isn't an option for me.

I still wonder how some native teachers teach without a Korean teacher in the classroom (for their regular classes with mixed ability students).  How do the students understand the material?  How do they understand you?


  • Kayos
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1298

    • March 31, 2016, 07:13:57 pm
    • NZ
Re: Set curriculum or more freedom, what do you prefer?
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2019, 10:52:04 am »
When I came to my school I realised that the textbook material was way too advanced for the students' level so I just didn't bother and made my own material aimed at their level.

In their English classes with the Korean teacher, they get worksheets which translate everything in the textbook into Korean so they can understand it.  I can't speak Korean so that isn't an option for me.

I still wonder how some native teachers teach without a Korean teacher in the classroom (for their regular classes with mixed ability students).  How do the students understand the material?  How do they understand you?

I use a translator app to translate just single key words of the expression.
However, my students at the school, where my co-T doesn't come, are super shy / too scared to use English. Their English is decent but, I'm not sure if they understand or not. Based on when I do speaking tests with them, they seem like they have understood what was taught, but it's never clear during the actual lesson lol.


  • oglop
  • The Legend

    • 2161

    • August 25, 2011, 07:24:54 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Set curriculum or more freedom, what do you prefer?
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2019, 11:30:53 am »
depends on the books really

however at my current school, although the books we use are really good, i'm discouraged from playing any kind of production activity at the end of class. so it's pretty boring for the students sometimes (and it would actually be beneficial to them, too)


  • Kayos
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1298

    • March 31, 2016, 07:13:57 pm
    • NZ
Re: Set curriculum or more freedom, what do you prefer?
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2019, 11:32:52 am »
depends on the books really

however at my current school, although the books we use are really good, i'm discouraged from playing any kind of production activity at the end of class. so it's pretty boring for the students sometimes (and it would actually be beneficial to them, too)

That's like me at 2 of my schools haha.


  • oglop
  • The Legend

    • 2161

    • August 25, 2011, 07:24:54 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Set curriculum or more freedom, what do you prefer?
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2019, 04:16:16 pm »
this school is a private elementary, and the parents pay a lot of money to send their kids there. i don't even use a reward/punishment system, as the kids are pretty good. they don't even expect to play games and rarely even ask for them. pretty weird (compared to other schools i've worked at)


  • debbiem89
  • Expert Waygook

    • 507

    • August 30, 2016, 09:42:49 am
    • South Korea
Re: Set curriculum or more freedom, what do you prefer?
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2019, 12:16:08 pm »
I've had both complete freedom and having to stick to the book exactly.

Honestly, neither are ideal.

I like having the book as a general structure. The students know what to expect and have something to reference. I generally take what I can out of the book (which usually takes one or two classes) then I supplement each chapter with what I want to do. Generally I make activities and games which expand on the book for the next 2-3 classes (we spend 4 classes approx per chapter).

When you have complete freedom there's a number of issues 1. Planning is time consuming (seriously time consuming) 2. The students don't think of your class as "class" they think of it as play time and will treat it as such. 3. They have nothing to reference back to like a textbook. Some students need that. 4. You use a TON of paper making worksheets etc these then go either straight in the bin or are lost pretty much straight away, useless and bad for the environment. 5. If your material doesn't fall in line with what the students are going to do in their exam, forget them attempting to remember any of it, they'll prioritise what's on their exam (understandably).

This is just what I've found and it's been 100% public Middle School so I guess it doesn't apply to all situations.


  • Piggydee
  • The Legend

    • 2568

    • October 15, 2013, 07:32:43 am
    • South Korea
Re: Set curriculum or more freedom, what do you prefer?
« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2019, 02:24:38 pm »
I only like a set curriculum when I'm not being forced to make every single kids fill out every single blank on every single page in a book.  I honestly prefer a set curriculum because it us a better direction of what the kids need to focus on for their level at their time.  Just so long as it's not "finish this 60 page workbook in 2 and half weeks BS that hakwons do, I say I prefer it that way.  The one thing I don't dig too much about public school is you always have to come up with games and lesson plans yourself, especially when it comes to after school class.   


Re: Set curriculum or more freedom, what do you prefer?
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2019, 06:51:15 pm »
  Well, it depends. When I was teaching university kids in China, I think I only ever used the textbook once. Even on that occasion, I thought the theme and vocabulary were good, so I used them but I did not follow the book as such. Since the level was pre-intermediate, more or less, I was able to download lessons, and produced some of my own material for that level. I decided to create lessons with group work, debates, role-play and so on.  It worked brilliantly.
   In South Korea, I would say that for public school jobs, it might be better to have some guidance and materials than nothing at all, especially if the co-teacher is like this  :blank: and you are in a difficult class. Having no guidance whatsoever led to lots of extra work for some of my friends who taught in public schools, and it can be even harder if you are at a ***special*** school.
    I like the idea of following a set curriculum up to a point. So I like to mix and match. I know of at least one hagwon which forces teachers to follow a very controlled pattern, and it leads to the opposite problem, too much control. The result is teachers basically don't have the time to to teach the material. Instead they have to run through it, and just give out answers.