About David Harbinson

English Language Teacher in Daegu, South Korea since 2007.

#KELTchat: Making sense of experiences (June 9 2015, 11am KST)

Announcing the next KELTchat slowburn on Tuesday 9th June 2015, 11am–7pm (KST). Check your local time here.

Topic: “Making sense of experiences”

Our jobs as English language teachers/professionals inevitably mean we encounter several experiences on a day-to-day basis. In fact, it could probably be argued that any professional’s life is made up of experiences. Some of our experiences in (or outside of) the classroom are positive, while others perhaps less so. But what do we do with these experiences, and how can we use them to better our teaching?

In the words of John Dewey:

We do not learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience.

In our next #KELTchat on Tuesday 9th June, our point of departure will be reflective practice, and how we can use it to develop professionally. There is no single ‘right way’ to engage in reflective practice, however, there are frameworks and suggestions to assist us. One such framework is the Experiential Learning Cycle, or ELC*. Familiarity with the ELC is not essential to join in with Tuesday’s KELTchat, but should you so wish to learn more about it, I highly suggest checking out Zhenya Polosatova’s blog post on the topic.

One part of the ELC is what is often called the analysis stage (although as you will see from Zhenya’s post, it does have alternative names). It is during this stage of the cycle that we try to make sense of our experiences. And it is this stage that has provided the inspiration for this KELTchat: How do you make sense of your experiences inside and outside of the classroom?

Questions that can be covered during the chat

  • What do you do after a negative experience in class?
  • Do you prefer to reflect on something that happens in class alone, or with a colleague?
  • Who do you usually talk to?
  • Do you like to think about experiences in class immediately or take some time before doing so?
  • Do you feel that talking to someone about what has happened helps you to make sense of an experience?
  • What do you consider “talking productively about teaching?”**
  • How productive/helpful/cathartic do you find “bitching” about teaching/your experiences?**
  • Does your place of work provide you with the support to reflect on your experiences?

*It is my view, as well as the view of others who use it, that to use the ELC effectively, one needs to complete the cycle from start to finish. However, I’d like to make it clear that this chat is not about using the ELC, but rather about how we think about our experiences. What we do can of course be incorporated into the ELC by reflective practitioners already using the cycle or those who would like to try it out.

**Questions copied/adapted from this post about ‘Talking about teaching’ by Mike Griffin.

#KELTchat Slowburn: My #YoungerTeacherSelf. 28th April 2015, 11am–7pm (KST)

This Tuesday, we have another #KELTchat slowburn. Join us from 11am–7pm (KST)—find out what time that is in your part of the world here—to discuss what advice you would like to give yourself (if you could) and how your teaching career has developed over the years (or months).

The title of this #KELTchat is my #YoungerTeacherSelf, which is inspired by Joanna Malefaki’s post from March. In her post, Joanna wondered what advice she’d like to give her 20-something self about teaching. Her post inspired several other bloggers to think about what advice they’d like to give themselves (links below), and got us thinking that it must be a pretty popular topic.


As always, the chat can take several directions, and we encourage you to come and participate with any advice that you’d like to give your younger self. To get you started, here are a few questions you might like to consider?

  • What three things would you like to tell yourself when you were just starting out teaching?
  • Think of a moment in class that didn’t go as planned. How did you react then. How would you react now?
  • Can you remember the first class you ever taught?
  • What made you want to get into teaching? How did you feel during your first week? month?
  • If you could go back and change one thing? Would you? What would you change?
  • What’s the biggest regret you have as a teacher?
  • What’s the biggest achievement you have as a teacher?
  • How has your opinion of teaching ‘approaches’, ‘methods’ changed over time?
  • Do you have a cringeworthy moment from your early days teaching that you just cannot forget?

If you can think of any other questions suitable for the topic, please leave a comment below, and we’ll be sure to add them here.


In addition to the questions, you may like to try the following task before or during the chat:

  • Read one (or more) of the posts that you haven’t read yet and share a tidbit that speaks to you.


Joanna has shared links to all of the other bloggers’ posts on her post, which if you haven’t read yet, I highly recommend you go and do. Here are the links from Joanna’s post:

Hana Ticha, Marjorie RosenbergTheodora PapapanagiotouChristina Chorianopoulou, Sylvia Guinan, Sandy Millin, Angelos Bollas, Zhenya Polosatova, Fiona, Phil Wade, Mike Griffin, Sophia Khan, David Petrie, Ageliki Asteri, T. Veigga, Clare

We hope to see you at the #KELTchat this Tuesday, and don’t forget, the beauty of the slowburn is that you can dip in and out at your leisure.

#KELTChat: But my students don’t speak at all in class (Sunday 8th March, 8pm)

It’s a new month and a new semester (at least here in Korea), which means that #KELTChat is back this Sunday at 8pm (KST) for an hour-long chat, and we want to make some noise!

The topic for the first chat of 2015 is “But my students don’t speak at all in class!” It’s a situation that many teachers have probably faced in their career. You go into the class with the best intentions but no matter what you do, your students just don’t want to speak. This might just be a one-off occurrence with a single class, but other times it is a more persistent problem with a particular group of students.

The focus of this week’s chat will be on what you can do in those situations. Some questions you may like to think about before, during and after are:

  • What is causing the students to remain silent?
  • Does this happen across all age groups/levels or is it just a particular group?
  • Are there particular times of the day, month, semester when this happens more often?
  • What other factors (outside of the classroom/studying a language) might be causing students to be quiet?
  • What have you done in the past to encourage your students to speak more?
  • What success stories have you had encouraging students to speak in class?
  • How important is it for students to actually speak in class?
  • Should we be forcing students to speak if they really don’t want to?
  • What activities/type of activities have you found prompt the students to speak the most?
  • What type of interaction patterns are most effective for encouraging more student talk? Dyads? Groups? Class Discussions?

Perhaps another tangent that the chat might like to take is how to encourage more speaking in traditionally quieter, heads-down activities.

#KELTChat welcomes anyone and everyone to take part, whether you’re in Korea or not.

Topic: #KELTChat: But my students don’t speak at all in class!
When: Sunday 8th March at 8pm (KST) Check your local time here
Where: Twitter

See you all there.