#KELTChat Summary for April 02, 2012: Fostering confidence and success in Korean students

General thoughts on confidence and success

The question was asked as to what it is in Korean culture that can affect students’ confidence; namely, the root of the problem. There were varied responses to this. One participant contextualized the problem by stating that it affected students who had been left behind by the education system. Another participant suggested that lots of confidence problems come from students’ super-high expectations; for example, “I *should sound like a native speaker or shouldn’t talk.” This suggestion was suported by the idea that in Korean culture people don’t do things unless they’re really good at those things; they strive for perfection.

To help make the striving for perfection fade, one participant suggested grouping the students. There was general agreement that this was a good idea; however, one participant questioned how to get a student who was sitting at the back of the classroom to talk.

Ideas to help students develop confidence and success

  • Assist struggling students to prepare one question then call on those students to answer the question (which they’ve prepared) in front of the class
  • Drama – hats & masks, voice-over acting with video clips, seems to help with quiet students
  • Ease students into conversation – avoid pushing output
  • Fitting in trick: Ask everyone to stand up and then they can sit down when they answer a question. (Not for the faint of heart)
  • Help students to develop a road map for development
  • Show models of excellent speakers, for example Ban Ki-Moon and Kim Yuna*
  • Student portfolios, especially for writing
  • Support language production (eg. non target language that can help them do the speaking task)
  • Take an interest in students and provide them with opportunities to succeed
  • Thinking time: Use TPS (Think, Pair, Share) before asking students to talk in front of a bigger group (or whole class)
  • Time limits or words you can’t use or pentalties or something to make the task more difficult in a weird way
  • Topics in the classroom that students want to talk about
  • Train students regarding roles and rules and deal with expectations


TED – Susan Cain: The power of introverts

* EDIT: Seeing Koreans speak perfectly may give students false expectations. Also show students moments when such icons make mistakes when speaking.

#KELTChat 3, Sunday 1st April 8pm: Fostering confidence in Korean students.


If you’re going to the Seoul KOTESOL Chapter Conference on Saturday, some of our members are meeting for a #KELTChat lunch. Anyone is welcome to join us. We will be at the main gates of Sookmyung University at 1.10pm, and then heading to a restaurant of our choosing nearby . It’s number 19 on the map on this flyer. If you can’t find us, send us a DM on Twitter with your number and we’ll call you. 

#KELTChat is back once again for another Sunday session and we are expecting to see numbers grow again. If you missed last week’s chat, you are strongly advised to check out @josetteLB‘s wonderful summary. This is a great chance to improve your own knowledge and that of the Korean ELT community by thinking, sharing, listening and challenging each other’s ideas. It’s also, more importantly, great fun.

I’m sure that all of us have at some point here spent ages planning an activity based on the latest, most communicative theories, only to see our learners shrink down in their chairs, and try to get through it by saying as little as possible to the teacher or each other. While we should recognize that all learners have their own needs, styles and foibles, they are still affected by the culture of their nation. On Sunday we will be discussing the common features of Korean learners, and the best practice for helping students to be confident within our context.

The discussion will tackle the way that Korean culture affects learner attitudes to confidence and success in the classroom, for example how fitting in may be a greater measure of success here than standing out. From this, we hope to find some strategies to help learners better in terms of group dynamics, classroom management and activities, and how to define success in the Korean classroom. We hope that you’ll join us to share your ideas and doubtless pick up some from others.

If you’re new to Twitter chatting and aren’t sure quite how it works, check out this handy guide. If you have no idea what #KELTChat is, have a look here or here.

We’d be delighted to see you on Sunday.

Alex (@breathyvowel)