Thursday, January 23, 2014

a bleg for ideas

So I'm writing up the second of two massive, 30-page lesson plans for the work I'm going to be doing for KMA. (We're expected to teach from the lesson plans we create, but it's also possible to teach a "canned" curriculum, i.e., one that's pre-made.) The first course I drew up was on persuasive writing in business English. The course I'm working on now is about online research. At first, this seemed like a fun topic to work on, but a particular thought germinated in my head and has now pretty much taken over my consciousness and sucked out the fun.

Let me retreat a bit and give you some background. The reason my lesson plans have to be as long as they are is that they're for day-long workshop/seminars that KMA runs—about seven hours for a one-day workshop, fourteen for a two-day session, and twenty-one hours for a three-day course. I've been tasked with writing up two one-day courses. The students (called "participants" at KMA) are generally adult businesspeople whose English skills range from intermediate to advanced. The focus, then, is always on some aspect of business English.

As I said above, the course I'm currently working on has to do with online-research techniques. My approach to the course is to use Bloom's Taxonomy of Cognition as the framework. The taxonomy, which I rely on heavily as a teacher, is basically a hierarchy that looks like this (I made this graphic for my lesson packet; this 72dpi version is a bit fuzzy, but the one going in the packet is much crisper, being 300dpi in resolution):

Each hour of the course will be devoted to one level of the cognitive pyramid. A knowledge-level research question might involve simple fact-checking: "In what year did Abraham Lincoln give the Gettysburg Address?" A comprehension-level question might involve interpreting data or extrapolating a trend. By the time we get up to synthesis-level questions, research will involve establishing connections between and among X, Y, and Z (e.g., "What influence do factors like terrain and religion have on the South Korean economy?").

Designing such research tasks for the participants isn't the hard part. My problem—hence the bleg—is this: I have to convince my charges that they need to do their online research exclusively in English.

Imagine you're Korean. You live in one of the most-wired countries on Earth. You, like the rest of your countrymen, tend to rely on only two portal sites for all your online-research needs: and Those two portals cover pretty much everything. Who needs Google? Anything you might want to know about any other country on the planet comes to you rendered in Korean, ready for consumption. So why would you ever have to peek outside your Koreanized world? If you need to research anything, just do it in Korean via Daum and Naver! Screw English! What, you can't look up Abraham Lincoln and the Gettysburg Address in Korean? Well, actually, you can!

Basically, I'm hard up for ideas. I need to design research topics that (1) follow the ladder of Bloom's Taxonomy, (2) pertain to business English, and (3) by their nature, force the students to use the anglophone Internet. I already have a general idea of how to do this. I could ask students questions about what or the Washington Post business section has to say about Topic A or B. But there have to be other ways to accomplish this goal. If the point is to show the students the necessity of branching out from the Korean universe, I need to convince my students that the Korean Internet is woefully incomplete (which I believe it to be).

Any ideas? Feel free to leave comments.



John from Daejeon said...

I used to teach English to rather advanced English speaking doctors at a major hospital in Daejeon. Their main problem was needing to use websites outside of South Korea in which to learn advanced medical research and techniques and to help do their own medical research. Of course, most of that medical material is rendered in English, and not Korean, on the Internet.

They also needed to practice speaking English before a large, international audience while attending medical seminars in other countries around the world.

After I showed them how to use certain English scholarly websites in which to access their pertinent medical information and that Daejeon has several great Toastmasters clubs. I realized that I taught, and talked, myself out of a really great job.

Take a look at the Toastmasters website. You might glean something useful from it. There are also other business websites that they might find useful. Forbes may not be very useful if your students will be working in the U.K. or South Africa. Show them how to use the Internet to navigate to useful English resources that they may need not only for the business world of the region they are interested in but also for their necessary survival in the mundane affairs of day-to-day life if one plans on living in that region. The South Korean Internet portals may answer many questions about life in the U.S., but they may be lacking when it comes to those of Ireland and South Africa.

Kevin Kim said...

Finally—one response! Thanks, John.

John from Daejeon said...

It's nearly impossible to leave a response when using Chrome. It took me at least five times as long as normal as I had to deal with "unresponsive page" popups popping up all the damn time. It's also nearly impossible to scroll down to read/view your comments due to some other gremlin in the Chrome system. Luckily, I know a few remedies, but it still sucks the big hairy one when trying to access your site at this time via Chrome.

Kevin Kim said...

So that's three people with similar Chrome-related problems. I wonder why those glitches are all cropping up now. Was there some unspoken signal at Google? "Begin Operation Monkey Wrench... 3... 2... 1..."