Monday, December 8, 2008

Debate Competition

For the past 5 months I have been teaching the highest level class at our campus, they are all 6th graders and have excellent English skills.  We concentrate on current affairs and issues. We cover a new topic every week with the culmination of the week being a debate on Friday.  The basic format is that we read an article on Monday, and then have a writing/discussion activity. On Wednesday we read another article on the topic and then they split into their groups and start putting together their debate.  Well, for the past 4 weeks I have been preparing four of my students for the debate competition.  They spent over 20 hours writing arguments, memorizing templates, and brainstorming rebuttals. I put in an additional 5 or so hours editing, copying, cutting and gluing arguments onto cue cards.  Alison was a sweetheart and did a couple hours of gluing the other night when I had had enough of it. Well, this weekend, myself, the students Korean teacher, Kabin, and I got on a bus to go to the competition with 20 other debate teams.  They won their first round, and did very well the second round but unfortunately they did not move onto the final round of four.  I was so proud of them.  They were not really excited in the weeks leading up to the event, but after their first debate something came alive in them.  I stopped forcing them to practice, because they were asking me for their cards, wanting to rehearse!!  It was really fun to see these kids enjoying themselves and it was fun for me to let them enjoy themselves.  Most of the time I am telling them to get back to work, stop speaking korean, get back to work, sit down, stop talking about me in Korean, where is your homework.  These kids work really hard and it was fun to get to see them have fun.  Jason, one of my best students, and the only boy on the team, wanted to play poker on the bus ride back.  I obliged and taught him, Uri, and Sujin how to play five card draw on the way back to Seoul, as well as how to shuffle a deck of cards.  I played a dozen hands with them, and then needed to sit back and rest, but they continued to play.  I had a couple observations.  One was that they kept speaking English.  Most of the time when I stop speaking with them, they revert back to Korean, but I think they just forgot all about Korean for a while after being surrounded by fellow Korean English speakers all weekend.  That was cool to see.  The other was that it dawned on me that when I was in 6th grade, I rode a bus from St. Louis to Yellowstone and on that bus was where I learned to shuffle a deck of cards.  I just found it very "circle of lifeish" to be teaching my 6th grade korean students how to shuffle on a bus.  If it is not clearly evident by this blog, I really enjoy teaching and coaching these kids.  I have had thoughts of teaching once Alison and I come back to the states, but you will have to come back later to hear about that. It is worth devoting an entire blog to.  I will leave you with a presentation that Jason wrote.  The topic is English Immersion Education, his assignment was to write a presentation on the topic from the viewpoint of a member of the Korean Government.  This was what he e-mailed me, I have not edited this at all.   I am going to make a push to "publish" more and more of my students work, whether it is the upper level stuff, or my lowest level kids, or just plain old pictures.


                                  By Jason

Hello. I am the education minister of the Republic of Korea. As the education minister I agree with President Lee. We believe that young students such as elementary school students or middles school students should be thought in English. There are lots of benefits in this plan. First, South Korea will be globalized. Second, our imports and exports will be more fluent.

First, South Korea will be globalized. You see, the world, the Earth, is united with a language called “English”. To be more and more compatible with other nations, such as the United States and Australia, we must be excellent in English. We must learn or accept their cultures and learn what are good for us. As we become better at English, the world will be friendlier to us and we will be able to solve problems such as F.T.A. with us having more benefits. We will even be a part of solving international problems because we have a good relationship with the others. So, we must be experts at English.

Second, our imports and exports will be more fluent. Korea is an exporting country. And exporting starts with importing. We don’t have a single drop of fossil fuels in our land. So we import fossil fuels from the Middle East. They’re language isn’t English but they can speak English. With a good communicator who can speak fluently, our imports will be better for all of us. With the oil, we can export products. Actually, not just exporting, but exporting in a fairly decent price. So, if we make students study English in younger ages, we will be able to have those communicators.

As you see, by studying English in a younger and younger age, it is good for our economy. Basically, it benefits all of us. All of us.

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