My First Day of English Classes in a Korean University

Resistant Korean Students

Today was officially the first day of English classes at my university. However, every Monday, I only have one evening English conversation class from 7-8:45pm, so it wasn’t very difficult, today. I entered the class at 6:50pm. There were 13 students there. My Monday evening class is full of working students. They cannot take day classes because of their jobs, so the average age is around 25.

The moment I entered the classroom, I could feel they were all nervous to see me. It was their first day of university, and I was about to teach their first class. I tried to be friendly and speak slowly. Unfortunately, the moment I tried talking to them, nobody would speak English. They were all too shy. I am continually disappointed with Korean students, especially when they meet people for the first time. Koreans of all ages are just too shy. It can be very frustrating. In my class, I have mature working students, but still they cannot function in a normal manner around a foreigner.

I introduced myself and explained the details about my English conversation class. They just listened quietly. As it was the first day, I was not going to have a full-length class. Just I wanted to quickly introduce myself and the class and leave. After I finished introducing about my class, I asked them if they had any questions. Nobody spoke. Nobody raised their hand. The whole room remained silent. This is when I started to get angry (I never show anger to students). I wrote on the whiteboard:

                                          The class is over after you ask me 15 questions.

I explained to them that they could go home after they ask me 15 questions. They could ask me any question about myself, how I score, their future assignments, their homework, anything. I said the power to leave early was in their hands. Nobody spoke. I waited a few minutes. Nobody spoke. They were all resistant to even try. Even knowing they can go home quickly, they still would not speak and chose to stay longer.

I then asked them to take out some paper and write down a question. A girl told me in Korean that she didn’t have a paper or pen. I then looked around and saw that about 7 out of 13 didn’t have any pen or paper. I told them that they could write their question on their phone and show me. Once they wrote down the questions on their phone, they started to ask me questions:

How old are you?
When did you come to Korea?
Do you have a girlfriend?
Do we have to do a presentation in class?
Etc…

From the time I wrote on the board, and told them that after asking me 15 questions we could go home, about 40 minutes had passed. It took them 40 minutes to ask 15 questions. I think it will be a long semester.

*Thanks for reading. I left some spelling and grammar mistakes in the story. If you find them, please tell me in the comments below.

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8 thoughts on “My First Day of English Classes in a Korean University

  1. I didn’t knew that Koreans are that shy, but I’m sure you will find a way to get them more active in your class. I wish you good luck.

  2. Your diary reminds me of my first English class in Korean university. As you know I’m a Korean, so I went to the Korean unviersity. it was a first week of my freshman year. I was only 18 years old. I was extremly shy. I’m still shy but that time I barely talked to other people. Anyway, a foreign English teacher came in. he was an Irish. He said to us something like “It’s so freezing, huh?” But nobody answered including myself. Every students looked at him very shy and awkwardly. And all students were so quite. After the first class, the other students started to talk to that Irish teacher and tried to be friendly. But only the other boy student and I still behaved awkwardly and kept silent. Now I’m old enough and I’m not doing like that anymore infront of foreigners. Anyways, that sounds like very tough class, Robin. And may I ask you question? When did you take that picture? And why did you take that picture? You look younger than nowadays in that pic.

  3. Layla from Suadi Arabia.

    - Edit Reply

    Hello Robin teacher :I think that the mistakes are (from 7_8:45pm) the correct is from 7 to 8:45 pm and (there were 13 students there) the correct is There were 13 student,but I am not sure as you know I weak in English..
    I want to tell you that you truly suffer with those students.. I’m sad to hear that. And I was really hope if I choose field of English instead Mathematics, but my English teachers are very terrible in the past.. I always imagine if I a student in your classroom to learn English better..
    Finally Thank you very much Robin for everything.

  4. I think grammer mistake is “I have (only one) evening English conversation—“.Spelling mistake is”A girl told me in (Korea)—.Then,I don’t understand “about”in the sentence,”I was (about) to teach–“

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