Friday, September 24, 2010

What the ... phone call?

Phone teaching has got to be the worst thing I ever did in Korea. It just isn't that effective for every student. Except for my first and last year every job (Hagwon) had phone teaching.

The worst was at my second job, that hell known as Ivy School in YongAmDong (Cheongju). We did phone teaching for ... kindergarten! These kids were still learning their Korean but we had to call and try and engage them on the phone. What a colossal waste of time.

The Korean teachers would spend the day drilling the kids on the questions they would be asked on the phone. It was the Korean teachers job to come up with questions to ask. We had no input. Our role was just to ask the questions. And what questions they came up with soemtimes.

"What are you wearing?"
"what is your mommy wearing?"
"Is your mommy pretty?"

At times I felt like a perv calling the kids and asking them questions like that. Even with the drilling, surprise surprise the kindergarten kids would have trouble answering questions.

Even with the higher level students phone teaching was pretty much a waste of time. Some, a few, it would work with. Most would just give a one word answer or you would have to pull an answer out of them.

Then you had the parents answering the phone and not understanding any English. I can't recall the number of times parents just hung up when we used English. Then they would have the audacity to complain that their kid wasn't called for phone teaching. What the kimchi??? Fucking mooks.

Why did my hagwon do it? Because another hagwon did it and you had to keep up with the Kim's. Once you started doing something like phone teaching it was almost impossible to stop ... because now the parents expected it.


  1. What are you wearing? That's pretty good. A shame you never had to do any phone English for bowling alleys, or fishing shops.

  2. Heh ... Do you like to hold the balls?

    Sometimes when we called the kids it would be at their parents place of business. And you are calling the shop number. Unless you were lucky and someone spoke English forget about getting a hold of the student. Once again the parents would then complain that you didn't call their kid.

  3. They should have had a Korean speaking secretary make the call and initial introductions for you and then hand the phone to you when the student was brought to the phone. Another example of not thinking things through.

  4. That would have helped get through painlessly, at least painless for the teachers. :)

  5. I always hated phone teaching, and I would refer to it as "phone sex," just because I thought it was so dumb.
    It never did any good at all that I could see, and was the biggest waste of my time I have ever experienced.
    I did try to make some kind of conversation with the kids, but ultimately ended up frustrated.
    Even when I was working for the public schools I had to do phone teaching. They tried to get the brightest students, the ones who wanted to practice their English, to do it. But we had to follow a script. There was about as much spontaneity as in a speech by Sarah Palin. It kind of defeated the purpose of teching conversation, I thought.