Read 7649 times

  • krissyboo75
  • Expert Waygook

    • 638

    • September 27, 2011, 01:01:39 pm
    • Gyeongsanbuk-do, South Korea
    more
No control in the class room; When students say "No"
« on: December 02, 2014, 02:23:41 pm »
I am working at a mixed middle school. I've been working in Korea with EPIK for over 3 years, and was at a boys high school. I've never had as many problems with my classes as I do now.

The problem is both the teacher and the students.  The student are not at a very high level, and the ones who are act like angels. But I make my lessons easy enough for them. They refuse to do anything. Games? don't want to play? Easy lessons? too boring. God forbid I try to make them do worksheets. They talk back. They say flat out no, they wont do it. I tell them to sit in their seat. "No"  Stop talking. "They ignore me". I've gotten quite angry before and they have called me "crazy".

Where is my co teacher in all of this? Sleeping at the back of the class, or talking on his phone, or sometimes not even in the room. They are low level enough that I need his help. He laughs and jokes with them when I am trying to teach. I feel like a lot of the time HE is learning from the lessons... I've complained to another teacher once, shes even spoken to the VP who spoke to him. Nothing changed. I feel like its such a waste of my time for me to try and teach the classes I have with this teacher because I feel like I am speaking to 1 or 2 students and the wall.   I'm frustrated.  They never get punished. He makes them stand at the back? what does that do? I try to kick them out? He says no just stand at the back....  Every once in a while the VP checks in now, and they all perk up and start listening. The second he is gone they go back to whatever they were doing. 

The other teachers suggestions "just ignore them." Kind of hard when its 90% of the class right?

This is becoming more of a rant than anything...Its only 2 classes that I have this problem with, so how can I get them to listen to me better when I am the only one trying to make them do so??  >:(


  • Archeon
  • Expert Waygook

    • 773

    • August 21, 2012, 02:36:28 pm
    • Ulsan
Re: No control in the class room; When students say "No"
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2014, 02:41:44 pm »


This is becoming more of a rant than anything...Its only 2 classes that I have this problem with, so how can I get them to listen to me better when I am the only one trying to make them do so??  >:(

The simple answer is, you can't.

You can't force them to do anything.

You are an outsider with even less power over those kids than the teacher sleeping in the back of class.

He knows he can't do anything to them either.  They only perk up when the VP is around because he is an unknown.  He can't do anything to them either, and when they learn this, they wouldn't listen to him either.


So, you've already gotten the answer from others... "Ignore them."  In other words, ignore the class.

The only thing you can do is try to figure out what they are interested in, IE which video games they are playing, what shows they are watching, and try to base your lessons around something that will get them interested in what you are talking about.

Otherwise.  Stand up, give the class to those two that will listen, pay them special attention,  make it almost a private tutoring class while the others sleep. 

You never know, others may get jealous and start trying to get your attention by answering a question.
I will tolerate your existence only so far as it doesn't infringe on science.


Re: No control in the class room; When students say "No"
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2014, 02:49:51 pm »
I wonder what would happen if you took the 1 or 2 who care and had a lesson with them in your office or somewhere else. If the co-teacher is fine with the majority of students controlling the classroom, then let him and them have the room. The VP knows about the issue, so moving your class (tutoring session) to a new location probably won't be something you're punished for.

I mean, I don't know. The idea of making lessons about things they're interested in seems nice, but if they're low-level, their behavior probably wouldn't improve that much.


Re: No control in the class room; When students say "No"
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2014, 02:57:03 pm »
I work in an elementary school and its pretty much the same with me. The kids refuse to work, run around screaming/hitting each other at times and when I tell them to stop, they just say "no" and my CT's left me to teach my classes alone too.

This sounds wrong, but just go into your class with an "I don't care anymore" approach. I mean, no matter how hard you try to get them to listen, they'll still mess around and you'll only get more stressed over it. Just teach the lesson, and if they listen, great! If not, don't beat yourself up over it.   


  • theory_
  • Veteran

    • 107

    • March 12, 2013, 09:18:32 am
    • south korea
Re: No control in the class room; When students say "No"
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2014, 03:03:08 pm »
Stop teaching those classes. You didn't come here for that nonsense. They don't want to learn, then stop teaching them. Literally, stop showing up for the class. The co-teacher comes to you to teach, "um....no. I'm done teaching that class until the students are ready to learn." The co-teacher will feel super embarrassed and start doing their actual job, which is to take part in the class.


Re: No control in the class room; When students say "No"
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2014, 03:04:31 pm »
My grade 5s have been an absolute misery lately because my co-teacher has become obsessed with just doing the textbook at an incredibly slow pace for no reason. Typically I created all the content for the class and she just explained things when needed and I have no idea why she's chosen this awful new dynamic for the last few weeks. She took some time off recently but when she came back the kids said straight to her face that they were glad she's back because they can mess around if its her teaching them and not just me or their homeroom teachers. They phrased it as "we're so comfortable with you" but after teaching solo and having relative control for a few lessons and going back to them having complete free reign (suddenly they don't understand English anymore when they can just yell "sonsaengnim!" for "help" in understanding me) I can see it for the backhanded compliment it is.

I don't know what to do with kids being enabled by a bad co-teacher either so I'm just commiserating. Just survive until Christmas I guess.


  • krissyboo75
  • Expert Waygook

    • 638

    • September 27, 2011, 01:01:39 pm
    • Gyeongsanbuk-do, South Korea
    more
Re: No control in the class room; When students say "No"
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2014, 03:11:19 pm »


I don't know what to do with kids being enabled by a bad co-teacher either so I'm just commiserating. Just survive until Christmas I guess.


Yes. On the plus side, they are second grade and I don't teach 3rd grade, so soon I am done with them. Its just such a waste of my time, ya know?


  • Eros
  • Super Waygook

    • 380

    • September 01, 2010, 02:43:24 pm
    • Korea
Re: No control in the class room; When students say "No"
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2014, 03:18:36 pm »
My ultimate solution would be to go to the education office. If a school is failing to the extent that you describe, then it's a problem for the government. Education is one of the biggies in any country. I would explain to your principal of your intentions, detailing your reasons, and if things do not change, take it to the higher ups. Preserving the status quo isn't an option, and your refusing to work could land you in trouble.


  • pantsu
  • Veteran

    • 76

    • June 09, 2014, 10:49:36 pm
    • Jeonbuk
Re: No control in the class room; When students say "No"
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2014, 03:21:18 pm »
There's no failing grade in Korea (or Japan) so there's no absolute incentive to do anything.

I had compulsory French. Everyone I knew was at least 51% proficient in French not because they liked it, very few of us did, but because if we didn't pass we'd have to do it all over again in summer or worse, the next year.


  • pkjh
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1857

    • May 02, 2012, 02:59:44 pm
Re: No control in the class room; When students say "No"
« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2014, 03:27:47 pm »
My ct's have sent whole classrooms back to the homeroom if they don't behave. Try that if you're alone. Or just kick the few bad apples into the hall.


Re: No control in the class room; When students say "No"
« Reply #10 on: December 02, 2014, 03:31:36 pm »
Stop teaching those classes. You didn't come here for that nonsense. They don't want to learn, then stop teaching them. Literally, stop showing up for the class. The co-teacher comes to you to teach, "um....no. I'm done teaching that class until the students are ready to learn." The co-teacher will feel super embarrassed and start doing their actual job, which is to take part in the class.

Ummmm... No. Horrible advice


  • Artisis
  • Veteran

    • 233

    • August 21, 2013, 04:52:28 pm
    • South Korea
Re: No control in the class room; When students say "No"
« Reply #11 on: December 02, 2014, 03:43:13 pm »
There's no failing grade in Korea (or Japan) so there's no absolute incentive to do anything.

Create incentive. Good students get rewards. Makes the classes fun but exclusive (only for the students who want to learn).

It's hard here because as the subject teacher, as the foreign English speaking teacher, you don't have the same power here as you would back home.
 I did student teaching back in the US with the class from HELL. 10 grade with one student on parole, several more with long lists of out of control behavior. Boy it was a learning experience.
How I dealt with them (back home): isolate the ring leader. I kicked Mr. Parole out of my class and told him if he isn't prepared to learn, he isn't allowed back. He had the choice of sitting outside the Principals office. He took that choice (knowing that if he left school grounds, the police would get involved). With him out of the class, managing the others was easier.

"You can lead a horse to water but you can't force him to drink". Savor these words as an educator. The more time you spend trying to force one student to bend their will, the more time you are spending neglecting the other students who want to learn and need a teacher. You can only do so much.

Middle school and highschool students depend on peer approval. I bet there are only 2 or 3 "leaders" and the rest are followers, wanting to be accepted and please their peers. Isolate the leaders, create meaningful, fun lessons for the rest of the students and don't waste your energy. I would honestly just kick the kids out of class. If they go around creating hell for the other teachers, tell them you didn't know what else to do and you had a class to teach, not a boy to babysit. Hopefully that will get administration involved.


  • philby1985
  • Expert Waygook

    • 662

    • March 05, 2013, 09:10:49 am
    • Daejeon
Re: No control in the class room; When students say "No"
« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2014, 03:49:18 pm »
The problem is both the teacher and the students.  The student are not at a very high level, and the ones who are act like angels. But I make my lessons easy enough for them. They refuse to do anything. Games? don't want to play? Easy lessons? too boring. God forbid I try to make them do worksheets. They talk back. They say flat out no, they wont do it. I tell them to sit in their seat. "No"  Stop talking. "They ignore me". I've gotten quite angry before and they have called me "crazy".

Any* students who don't follow my instructions (ignore me, say no, etc) in my class get a lunchtime detention writing out lines. I find it works first time because getting punished by writing out lines at lunch time is completely foreign at my school and takes their precious time away from them. I normally get them to either write "I will do what the teacher says in class and listen to what they say" or make them write the key sentences from the lesson over and over again.

Another option is to get their homeroom teacher to give them a negative point. I found the threat of that got an unenthusiastic class to participate much better.

I also harp on like a broken record that reading and speaking is the best way to learn English. I know they don't all believe me, but I'm sure some of them do.

*I know what my students can and can't do and don't try to make students do things that I know they can't do (i.e. super low level students that can't read come and stand at the front of the class and act something out).
« Last Edit: December 02, 2014, 03:52:16 pm by philby1985 »


  • pantsu
  • Veteran

    • 76

    • June 09, 2014, 10:49:36 pm
    • Jeonbuk
Re: No control in the class room; When students say "No"
« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2014, 05:19:44 pm »
There's no failing grade in Korea (or Japan) so there's no absolute incentive to do anything.

Create incentive. Good students get rewards. Makes the classes fun but exclusive (only for the students who want to learn).


Which is why I said there's no absolute incentive. The students, and teachers, who genuinely like English in my schools want to for the following reasons:

-video games
-movies
-travel
-academic curiosity

Video games as you can guess is a main reason my boys use English.


  • MJHanson
  • Expert Waygook

    • 502

    • May 02, 2011, 09:42:58 am
    • Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
Re: No control in the class room; When students say "No"
« Reply #14 on: December 02, 2014, 06:50:58 pm »
I'm sorry to hear that, OP.  This is part of what jaded me so much about teaching back home.  Trying to teach kids who aren't interested is tough.  It's especially hard here because (1) not every needs or likes English and (2) NETs have no real power, particularly over grades. 

It's a hard fact that some (most?) students simply don't like English.  Many of us have the unfortunate task of trying to teach a foreign language to students who have no desire to learn it.  The most important factor when it comes to language learning is motivation, and some kids just have none. 

Honestly, what I would do is let the uninterested students sit in the back and do whatever they want so long as they are quiet.  Let them read, sleep, stare at the wall... whatever.  But I would not let them play on their phones (not sure if elementary students have phones). 

Then I would put the interested students up front and teach to them.  Make it fun!  One of the most important things you can do as an elementary NET is make English fun.  Try to get your students to actually enjoy learning English while they are young.  This will make them motivated and successful language learners as they get older. 

Doing this will cut down on time wasted on classroom management and let you focus on students who actually want to learn.  And who knows... maybe some of those uninterested students will want to join in on class. 

Any* students who don't follow my instructions (ignore me, say no, etc) in my class get a lunchtime detention writing out lines. I find it works first time because getting punished by writing out lines at lunch time is completely foreign at my school and takes their precious time away from them. I normally get them to either write "I will do what the teacher says in class and listen to what they say" or make them write the key sentences from the lesson over and over again.

The problem with this method is that using English writing as a punishment will cause those students to hate English.  Also, it's likely that the students have no idea what they are writing.  They are probably just copying down the letters you wrote with no clue as to what it means. 

Instead, have them write Korean lines during lunchtime detention.  This punishment will be just as effective and it will not instill a Pavlovian hatred for English.  Here's a good phrase they could write 300 times per hour:

저는 개구쟁를 있었어면 지금 점심에 쓰고있어요.

("I was a naughty student, so I am writing during lunchtime.")
« Last Edit: December 02, 2014, 06:55:52 pm by MJHanson »


  • philby1985
  • Expert Waygook

    • 662

    • March 05, 2013, 09:10:49 am
    • Daejeon
Re: No control in the class room; When students say "No"
« Reply #15 on: December 02, 2014, 09:32:35 pm »
Any* students who don't follow my instructions (ignore me, say no, etc) in my class get a lunchtime detention writing out lines. I find it works first time because getting punished by writing out lines at lunch time is completely foreign at my school and takes their precious time away from them. I normally get them to either write "I will do what the teacher says in class and listen to what they say" or make them write the key sentences from the lesson over and over again.

The problem with this method is that using English writing as a punishment will cause those students to hate English.  Also, it's likely that the students have no idea what they are writing.  They are probably just copying down the letters you wrote with no clue as to what it means. 

Instead, have them write Korean lines during lunchtime detention.  This punishment will be just as effective and it will not instill a Pavlovian hatred for English.  Here's a good phrase they could write 300 times per hour:

If they were wiring lines using English every lunch time, I might agree with you. But I've always found after the first punishment, they pull their head in and are better behaved in class and know I mean business when I give an instruction. And lets face it, if their English teacher is giving them a lunch time detention, they are going to hate English regardless of if they are writing in English or Korean.

And, they know exactly what they are writing. When they actually try in class they can be quite smart, but they can be little shits from time to time and need to be kicked back into line. As you can see from the example I gave, the English is pretty simple and I'm 100% sure they know all the words.

EDIT: Thanks for the Korean translation. If I ever have to punish an ultra low level student (I have not needed to yet) I'll use it.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2014, 09:41:21 pm by philby1985 »


Re: No control in the class room; When students say "No"
« Reply #16 on: December 03, 2014, 07:14:40 am »
Start talking about stuff they actually care about- sports, video games, food, relationships, tech, movies, music, gory death and so on.


  • nadinea
  • Veteran

    • 126

    • March 05, 2014, 08:16:52 pm
    • South Korea
Re: No control in the class room; When students say "No"
« Reply #17 on: December 03, 2014, 07:40:16 am »
I'm an elementary teacher so this may not be useful.

How are they with their homeroom teacher?  If they respect that teacher ask for a list of names and figure out who they are (names to faces (or ask the good students?)) Have the teacher that talked to the vp speak to the homeroom teacher and explain that you are having problems with the class and that you would like their help.  Each time a kid acts up make note of it in a book and give the list to the HR teacher.  Have the HR teacher reprimand them, and tell them that if they get X number of reprimands the next step is contacting their parents. 
If you really want to invest the time, you could start calling all the parents once a month.  Really praise their good behaviour and then after that is set up start discuss the bad.

I also found that my low level students respond best when I give them extra attention.  High fives for right answers, getting really excited when they answer even if it's not 100% right basically excited for participation.

Good luck!


Re: No control in the class room; When students say "No"
« Reply #18 on: December 03, 2014, 07:48:43 am »
This is the fundamental problem with English here, there is no need for the kids to do anything at all.  So why should they? it's pointless in their eyes, they can't fail.

You cannot change the system here, so the only way is to provide motivation.

I tried to do it a few ways, sample visa type questions, showing job applications with english requirements, university entrance requirements etc...

Different teaching methods would work but they will never change it in a million years

At this time of year there is very little you can do to be honest.


  • busandar
  • Super Waygook

    • 276

    • March 05, 2013, 11:41:05 am
    • Busan, South Korea
Re: No control in the class room; When students say "No"
« Reply #19 on: December 03, 2014, 07:58:23 am »
I work in an elementary school and its pretty much the same with me. The kids refuse to work, run around screaming/hitting each other at times and when I tell them to stop, they just say "no" and my CT's left me to teach my classes alone too.

This sounds wrong, but just go into your class with an "I don't care anymore" approach. I mean, no matter how hard you try to get them to listen, they'll still mess around and you'll only get more stressed over it. Just teach the lesson, and if they listen, great! If not, don't beat yourself up over it.

This sounds exactly like my school. I would wear myself out each week trying to discipline them, get them to listen and show me (us) some sort of respect. Then I looked over at my CT and realized she's not doing a thing, and seems quite relaxed each week. I decided to completely stop disciplining (wasn't working anyways) and started teaching whether they were listening or not. If they talk really loudly over me I just stop talking until they stop or my CT steps in.

I'm not happy with it, I'd love to engage them with each and every lesson, but I sure don't feel the same sort of burn out at the end of each week as I did before. Letting my CT manage them (or not) has been the best step back I could have taken.

I wish you luck with this situation, it's not a fun one.