Sunday, 28 October 2007

The Icheon Middle School English Competition

On Friday we had an English Language Competition for the Middle Schools of Icheon. I have been working with two students during the two or three weeks prior to this to help prepare them for the competition, or should I say I tried.

I was just told that they had to answer question and that one student will deliver a speech while both of them would be delivering a dialogue.

Even thought the speech was called the One Minute Speech I did not actually realise that they will have a timer and stop them after one minute.

The other thing that confused me the form the interview would take. I didn’t know if they would use the provided questions exactly, if the questions would be coming form the example description or if they would be from personal experience.

Basically I knew nothing. This didn’t help much for my motivation, I must say. I did what I thought best with what was provided, though.

One of the rules is that none of the students were allowed to have lived in a foreign country. I understood that that meant countries where English is a major language, so I think Germany, for instance, might not have disqualified a student.

By the standards of their age, both the students were quite good. The boy, however, is what I would call one of the better students in the school, overall. Both his parents teach English at an Academy and I have spoken to his mother. Her English is very good. Although he was born in the USA, I understand that he was brought here as a baby and that he grew up in Korea. Therefore he has been exposed to en English country in a way that would influence his language.

The girl was not that bad, but she just needed to concentrate more. When I would ask a question like “Do you normally travel by bus or by car?” she would answer “I prefer to bus”. I know she know better than that because eating a bus is no fun. I think this is a direct conversion from the Korean Language. Where you take a now and ad a “do” to is so that you basically say “I prefer to bus-do”

I must admit that I didn’t have that much hope for the competition because I expected the other student to be much better than they were. It turns out that they were not. Our two students handled themselves really when on the day and made a good showing of it. We came in third and I am very satisfied with that, considering I had no idea what we were doing.

The students who came in forth, I think it I know who it was, could easily have taken that spot, but based on that the judges saw, there weren’t better. I spoke to them outside in the hallway and they are good. They were twins and both has the same strange accent, though.

The top 25% of the students ware far ahead of the rest. I’m proud to say that third puts us in that group, if you cant figure that out for yourself.

In my opinion the pair that came in First was not the best. The one boy was very good, but the other one was no better than either of your students. He was very funny and entertaining, but that does not make him personality good in a language. The students who came in second were, in my opinion, the best. Both were very comfortable when speaking. Their speeches did seem a bit rehearsed, but it was well pronounced and their interviews showed their ability clearly.

All in all I learned a lot from this and I hope to be able to do a better job next year. I would just like to start earlier with the students.

One last note, the one minute speech turned out to be the 90 second speech. It would have been nice to know that in advance.

All in all, I think that was a good day at the office.

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