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Do you really need a co-teacher in the classroom?
« on: June 21, 2019, 09:50:26 am »
I read somewhere that if you need a co-teacher to help translate and run the class then you aren't a good teacher.  What are your thoughts?

I personally am of two minds on the subject, and I would like to see what others have to say. Like maybe for new teachers this is okay, but 10 plus years still needing someone to be by your side might be a little extreme.


Re: Do you really need a co-teacher in the classroom?
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2019, 10:00:16 am »
Personally, I like having a CT mostly for behavioral reasons. If I am at the front of the room, writing on the board, it's nice to have that extra person to help with the troublemakers in the back of the room. Both of my CTs are content with letting me run the class on my own. They step in with the occasional translation if we find the students aren't understanding well on their own.
But there are also the days that my main CT chooses not to come to class, and things still run smoothly. So while it's nice to have a co-teacher, I don't find them absolutely necessary at all times.


Re: Do you really need a co-teacher in the classroom?
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2019, 10:37:47 am »
People can get by without a coT, but it's better to have someone who can speak the language and who has the authority to enforce higher levels of discipline. Students tend to be easier to control when you have two teachers getting on their backs, especially when one teacher is a NET who can't speak the local language (students will test NETs more than they will KTs because of the language barrier - they try to take advantage of that).

In many cases, whether or not you actually need a coT is moot. In public schools, for example, it's required by law for liability reasons.


Re: Do you really need a co-teacher in the classroom?
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2019, 11:05:03 am »
People can get by without a coT, but it's better to have someone who can speak the language and who has the authority to enforce higher levels of discipline. Students tend to be easier to control when you have two teachers getting on their backs, especially when one teacher is a NET who can't speak the local language (students will test NETs more than they will KTs because of the language barrier - they try to take advantage of that).

In many cases, whether or not you actually need a coT is moot. In public schools, for example, it's required by law for liability reasons.

That's what I was thinking. Imagine in the US getting a teacher who could speak English (or Spanish). They would not be able to control the classroom no matter how good they are of a teacher.


  • alexisalex
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Re: Do you really need a co-teacher in the classroom?
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2019, 11:09:03 am »
I'm in the camp of...having a class of beginners being taught by a foreign teacher who can't speak the local language without a coteacher in the room is a recipe for disaster.  Apparently this happens a lot?  I can't wrap my head around how any learning can take place in this situation, let alone disciplining.

In many cases, whether or not you actually need a coT is moot. In public schools, for example, it's required by law for liability reasons.

I'm sure you're right but I've still never seen this documented anywhere.

I do remember reading about a native teacher who would wait outside the classroom door until the coteacher arrived, even if the students were inside.  Straight out refused to go in without a CT lol  8)


  • 303lmc
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Re: Do you really need a co-teacher in the classroom?
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2019, 11:23:06 am »
So when i first started at my main school I was the only teacher in the room. It is DEFINITELY  a recipe for disaster. I honestly HATED  coming to school and was giving serious consideration to quitting. but then I realized they had my contract and asked for a copy of it for my records. that coupled with the fact that the thing that holds up the window blinds started to fall and was barely hanging to the ceiling, and the VP came to watch my class and realized it wasn't going well, like at all, that all changed.  I'm in a very small school so each teacher, 3rd - 6th, comes to class and teaches now, and I make sure to have the handouts copied or games and activities. well, 4th and 6th grade teachers teach class and i help. 3rd and 5th just sort of show up. I force them into helpingme by asking them "teacher , what does this say?" or" what does the book ask the students to do here?"
before the teachers came to class it was ridiculous. NO ONE listened or paid any attention to me, and life sucked.
It's pretty clear to me that the previous teacher didn't have anyone in the room with him because the kids demand games and candy often. So I'm guessing he placated them with candy and non stop games. I tell the kids now that we can't play games if they don't learn the language!
and i do believe if you look closely at your contract it does say somewhere in there about a KT being in the room. it might be vague language but it's there.


Re: Do you really need a co-teacher in the classroom?
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2019, 11:27:49 am »
never had a coteacher, don't know what they're for or what I'm supposed to do with them..
4 years in and don't speak Korean. It might be nice to be able to use korean sometimes but other than that?


Re: Do you really need a co-teacher in the classroom?
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2019, 12:05:45 pm »
I read somewhere that if you need a co-teacher to help translate and run the class then you aren't a good teacher.  What are your thoughts?

I personally am of two minds on the subject, and I would like to see what others have to say. Like maybe for new teachers this is okay, but 10 plus years still needing someone to be by your side might be a little extreme.

It depends entirely on the class and each will be different. South Korea has an abysmal education system, you'll have students who don't know their ABCs in the same class as those who can speak in, read and write full sentences. There's no consistency at all.

With that in mind, no matter how good a teacher you are, what you're able to do with a mixed-level class, who see you once a week, have much of what you teach undermined by Konglish and don't have work graded, is particularly limited.
I've taught in every situation, with every type of CT, every type of student and every type of class.

I know exactly how to discipline and control a rowdy class, I can just as easily be tough as nails as I can be happy go lucky. What I can't do is teach a "relatively" effective lesson with a mixed-bag, within a limited time-frame. I rely on my CT to keep the low-level students under control, or aid them if necessary because let's face it, when you've no clue what the tall foreigner is talking about, it doesn't take long for you to get bored and find different ways to entertain yourself.



« Last Edit: June 21, 2019, 12:12:15 pm by Aristocrat »


Re: Do you really need a co-teacher in the classroom?
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2019, 12:12:06 pm »
I never had a co-teacher at my high school, which was pretty sweet. The biggest problem I had was students sleeping in class. I couldn't imagine life without co-teachers at my current school though (big public middle school). Things are chaotic enough with them in the classroom.


  • elsbethm
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Re: Do you really need a co-teacher in the classroom?
« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2019, 12:25:18 pm »
I've had to get used to teaching without a CoT or a HR teacher in the  room. In some classes I even prefer it that way.  I know legally a Korean teacher is supposed to be there but sometimes they're more of a hindrance than a help.
But overall, it's much easier to have a CoT in the class and it can definitely create a more productive lesson.


  • oglop
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Re: Do you really need a co-teacher in the classroom?
« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2019, 03:51:57 pm »
I read somewhere that if you need a co-teacher to help translate and run the class then you aren't a good teacher.  What are your thoughts?

I personally am of two minds on the subject, and I would like to see what others have to say. Like maybe for new teachers this is okay, but 10 plus years still needing someone to be by your side might be a little extreme.
no. waste of time. having said that, i get paid by the class at my school, and i get paid for sitting in on ("co-teaching") the korean teacher's lessons. don't know why... there are only 10 kids per class :/ not that i'm complaining


Re: Do you really need a co-teacher in the classroom?
« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2019, 08:56:22 pm »
A mixed level class of 25 plus middle schoolers that don't want to be in school? I'd quit if I had no co-teacher lol.


  • HappyPlanetAbuser
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Re: Do you really need a co-teacher in the classroom?
« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2019, 11:45:13 pm »
Could you guys elaborate a bit more on the behaviour of your students? What exactly makes it difficult to teach Korean middle school students? I had always believed them to be very quiet and well-mannered?
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Re: Do you really need a co-teacher in the classroom?
« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2019, 10:56:44 am »
Could you guys elaborate a bit more on the behaviour of your students? What exactly makes it difficult to teach Korean middle school students? I had always believed them to be very quiet and well-mannered?

Again, it depends entirely on the school, particularly if the HR teacher is competent and passionate about their job.

- Korean middle-school students, just like any other teenager, are going through puberty. I think I can leave it at that.
- This is where the "fun" they had at elementary school usually comes to an abrupt end. They're steered to focus heavily on English tests written by Koreans who can't really speak English, meaning these tests
  will focus almost exclusively on grammar. Nobody has confidence in the national English curriculum (rightly so) and it's mostly ignored. In the interests of getting the best scores on the grammar tests,
  students will focus their attention at hagwons, while relaxing and slacking off at school.
  It's more or less an unwritten convention that students are allowed to slack of at school.

English is usually just a means to better test scores which ultimately helps them get into the best university so they can marry spouse from a respectable family and land a respectable job.


Re: Do you really need a co-teacher in the classroom?
« Reply #14 on: June 22, 2019, 11:30:43 pm »
I read through all of the comments and can see where everyone is coming from even though I have only taught elementary. I will just address the OP question.

Yes.
First of all it is in contracts that during regular school hours that a KT is in the room( as mentioned). I personally have a wide variety because I teach with all HR teachers but have really well behaved students (mostly). Those class hours are also part of their weekly hours so they should be doing their part. It could be just helping low lvl students or only working on behaviour or even just being close. In hagwons there is usually cctv, but what about public? There is nothing.
How do you protect yourself and the students in case of an emergency? How do you solve a student dispute/crying (even with really good Korean skills?). Who will back you up if a parent complains? I will tell you right now you will be thrown under the bus. Never happened to me but I know people who it has. Korean teachers/VP/P have a lot more riding on making them self look good. Have you ever seen a Korean teachers open class? Is it anything that you have ever seen day to day?

I guess I asked more questions than I actually answered. I always let the really low English lvl teachers do their stuff outside of the class but make sure that they are close enough that if there is a problem where a student needs help they are there. If teachers tell me they need to talk to the VP or something during my class that is fine but at least I know.

TLDR: Do I need a CT? No. Should there be one? Yes


  • alexisalex
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Re: Do you really need a co-teacher in the classroom?
« Reply #15 on: June 23, 2019, 04:44:51 pm »
Sorry to jump in again but no one has addressed it ( although Aristocrat briefly touched on it)

let's face it, when you've no clue what the tall foreigner is talking about...

My question is simple.  How do elementary students understand a single word you say if there's no CT in the room to support them?  Sorry if my question comes across as ignorant but...it is lol.  I've only ever taught High School in Korea. 


  • HappyPlanetAbuser
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Re: Do you really need a co-teacher in the classroom?
« Reply #16 on: June 23, 2019, 05:24:43 pm »
Language learning is facilitated by social context. People learn much faster by not understanding you than through listening to translated sentences from the Korean teacher.

linguistics-CREED constructions-rational-exemplar-emergent-dialectic (Ellis, 2006)

Quote
Explicit Learning in the L2 Classroom: A Student-Centered Approach

Ronald P. Leow - 2015 - ‎Language Arts & Disciplines
... “associative-cognitive” CREED, in which each letter represents the mechanisms of Construction-based, Rational, Exemplar-driven, Emergent, and Dialectic.

There has been an interesting study done on which grammar constructions Koreans learnt in a natural L2 environment. They first recognised -ing forms, then past regulars and very late in the process 'give something to him or her'. The Teachability Hypothesis claims that actual learning only takes place when a student has made a construction part of their interlanguage, not when we force them to fill in grammar tests.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2019, 05:45:30 pm by HappyPlanetAbuser »
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  • alexisalex
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Re: Do you really need a co-teacher in the classroom?
« Reply #17 on: June 23, 2019, 06:06:59 pm »
Thanks for the reply HappyPlanetAbuser.

So I wonder how social context is provided in the classroom.  Does it mean that language is taught by showing rather than telling?

 


  • HappyPlanetAbuser
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Re: Do you really need a co-teacher in the classroom?
« Reply #18 on: June 23, 2019, 07:37:37 pm »
I think experienced teachers will recognise that as well, this is basically how you teach kinder/elem. So.. at first yeah if the learner has 0 level, a lot of showing (context) is involved. But the EDP forces the best communication and often that is NOT learnt from us teachers, but from other social groups (friends or TV). The social activity (Piaget) in the NET class induces these constructions to be recognised and then the grammatical understanding of the language 'emerges' from its usage. I had the same but then with Korean, studying Korean grammar and words at a language school was useless, by watching TV and using it with friends I started to 'understand' the language. I see many wonderful teachers here creating fantastically well devised products which they unknowingly create following these scientific principles. (Ellis, 2006; O'Grady, 1995)

Edited to answer your question
Quote
how social context is provided in the classroom
A student wants to complete a social task for which he needs to ask information from an 'expert'. (Piaget) Learning a language is therefore not a grammatical endeavour but a social interaction in which language is a tool to extract the necessary information from the social group that person is in to complete a task:

 Which items will you bring with you to a desert island? Make a list and describe them.  Teacher, what is a jerrycan?

  If you as a teacher give effective feedback (do not correct mistakes but give the student prompts: He not have!  :undecided: Do you mean...He ...d.. He don havu! Well, he...? Then the student learns English from an expert (can also be classmates) because he has to produce a correct message (dialectic) to fulfil a task/activity. This is why your Korean co-T should never translate nor should we 'recast the correct sentence' when we correct students. Just indicate that the utterance was wrong and help them very gradually to the correct answer. ( I think that's Lyster& Ranta, 1998?).

 The better you design your tasks/activities the more learning takes place. https://tefltastic.wordpress.com/
Now, you may have seen me lament a video of a hagwon which had a really great linguistically sound description of their programme, but when I saw the teacher show the programme on Youtube and drill the students I was ROFL at how bad it was. The activity should free you up as a teacher so you can become an expert who walks around and answers questions about the project. The actual language learning takes place while students are doing game/writing tasks or anything else independently without us.
You could facilitate or enhance this learning process in their ZPD by planning ahead and using the grammar constructions purposefully, months ahead when they appear as 'study material'' in a unit. I am actually planning on doing that when I'm starting the new year.

I could actually claim that Korean students learn much more from the NET than from the grammar classes with Ms Pak/Kim/Jung provided Ms Pak isn't translating each utterance into Korean.  ;D
« Last Edit: June 24, 2019, 09:40:44 pm by HappyPlanetAbuser »
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Re: Do you really need a co-teacher in the classroom?
« Reply #19 on: June 24, 2019, 07:53:07 am »
I think it depends a lot on your relationship with the students. The older mine get and the more I spend time with them, the less I need a CT for strictly survival purposes.  For example, I can solo 5th/6th grade fine, but I haven't spent much time with 3rd/4th because of my maternity leave and months of swimming lessons (cancelled English) so their listening comprehension is much lower.

I don't think anything is wrong, either way. It's just whatever works the best for you.