Teaching: on the front line

June 11, 2004

What is your experience of teaching? Harriet Swain asks teachers how they manage

Name: Miye Lee

Age: 45

Job: Lecturer in Korean, Newcastle upon Tyne Univer-sity.

Salary: Lecturer B scale (up to £34,838).

Qualifications: Certificate in language teaching to adults, diploma in language in the multicultural community, MA in second-language learning and teaching, certificate in teaching and learning in higher education, PhD in applied linguistics (in progress).

Experience: I have taught courses in Korean and English for speakers of other languages at further education colleges.

Hours spent teaching: This year they have been reduced from 15 to ten hours a week and I spend about 20 hours in preparation and marking. I have spent a further ten to15 hours a week preparing for a new degree programme that is not going to materialise.

Hours on red tape: It varies. My main administrative duty is being a pastoral officer to about 400 undergraduates in the School of Modern Languages. As the only lecturer in Korean, I need to deal with all administrative issues related to the course.

Hours on research: I used to spend about 15 to 20 hours a week on my PhD.

But I have had to suspend my research temporarily to re-plan my future as I am being made redundant at the end of this year.

Teaching bugbear: This year the class sizes are much smaller than usual.

This has prevented me from using teaching methods that encourage students to be more interactive in class.

How do you solve it? Students have been advised to take part in tandem learning with native speakers. But this alone cannot replace structured and guided classroom interaction.

Worst teaching moment: Some years ago, a brilliant student decided to drop out of university for personal reasons. Because of his strong desire to carry on learning Korean, we agreed that he could stay on my course until the end of the academic year. But his academic performance and attendance deteriorated. As the whole class seemed to suffer, I had to stop him attending.

Best teaching moment: Seeing students progress from knowing nothing of Korean to acquiring near-native proficiency. Once, my father took a telephone message from one of our graduates and thought that he was Korean with an unusual name.

Teaching tip: Use diary-writing in the target language from an early stage.

I believe it works because it is relevant to students' personal lives and it helps them to take risks, explore new ideas and consolidate what they have learnt. I give them individual feedback daily.

Outside interests: I play the Celtic and the Paraguayan harp.

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