I teach grade 2 and 3 high school students in korea. They are all low beginner conversation level. I was given a 60 hour overtime course on very short notice. I've taught 40 hours worth but that was by making a basic curriculum and planning a lesson every day. I'm tired!! For the final 20 hours, the goals of the course will be basic conversation skills and I don't want to plan lessons every day. Can anyone recommend a good text book for this age of students at this level?
With your goals in mind - I'll recommend a few options.
I really like Andrew Park's stuff because of the Korean content. But it might be too high a level. But take a look anyways. www.finchpark.com/books One caution here, they don't have too much structure. I also really like his Visit Korea! but it is geared more towards adult learners. Now You;re Talking would be appropriate for H.S.
Another great star of the EFL world is David Nunan. The textbooks he's helped create are always accessible and well designed. I'd go for it! Go for it - is the 4 level series probably most appropriate for your students. Also, great internet support material and activities for students. This book has also been adapted by the Chinese Govt for use in many of their schools.
New Interchange 1 would also work. Students like the content. Very modern, lots of variety, not boring. I just had an email conversation with a teacher in China who contacted me for a job reference about this book. He said it wasn't too good for the learner who isn't in an English speaking country (ESL learner). I"m not so sure. And they also have great, grammar related internet homework material.
Here attached is a course curriculum I did for a group of teachers who wanted textbook lessons. This follows the Interchange curriculum/book and has links to the internet exercises. It might also work in general for new teachers, as something to guide their own curriculum by, as something they can use to frame their own curriculum around....
I know that this seems to go against your need for a break in planning, but I'd suggest ditching the books and doing a project. Design a project that is appropriate for the class, such as the design of a school English-language newspaper. This gives them both a creative outlet and a goal (or goals) to accomplish. Divide them up into teams, have them determine topics for the paper. I'd suggest requiring at least one interview (which could be done in English or Korean). Then spend class time planning for interviews, editing (peer editing is a good skill to teach and reduces your load), discussing outcomes/topics that grow out of the interviews or other topics in creating a newspaper (e.g., censorship, subjectivity, reporting vs. editorializing, etc.). This will eat up 20 hrs really quick. In fact, you'll likely have to scale it down.
Now, I know that it seems like a lot of writing for a conversation class, but the writing is just fodder for discussion of topics and working with the structure of the language. An article from each team isn't much. The real payoff is the discussion and collaboration required from a project like this.
There are plenty of other projects that you can do, but this is what I had off the top of my head. If done right, your prep time is very light, with most time spent advising groups, monitoring progress, and moderating discussions. Of course, depending on the abilities of your students, a certain amount of scaffolding will be necessary.
In the end, I think that having them do something like this will energize you more than following exercises in a book.
Your desire for a textbook seems natural and prudent. Textbooks can certainly provide a safety net so I tend to use them the first semester that I teach a subject. After that, I feel more comfortable creating and finding my own materials.
You've got a tough assignment. I'd suggest the book "Talking Your Head Off" which has vivid illustrations and ten or so fun questions in each chapter. Another possibility is Conversation Book 1, but that seems more focused on the practical needs of adult immigrants. If you're looking for a multi-skills book, The Interchange Series matches the interests and needs of younger EFL students.
PS. I'm attaching a copy of a more advanced conversation lesson that I created that you might useful called Going Beyond Hello. The American adult education monthly Easy English Times has been modifying some of my worksheets for intermediate students by choosing a handful of questions, proverbs, and quotations and adding dictionary definitions. Cut and paste as desired.
Thanks very much for all your suggestions. I've checked out most of the titles that people have suggested. maybe one of the best symbols is if the book is sold out. The store didn't have New Interchange INtro, and they had to restock Go for it, so that made me feel better about the short list.
You are right about the "in demand" assessment. Just like a busy restaurant.....
I can't say I've had the same success/feeling as Josh with Touchstone. I find that book isn't bad but it also is very structured and lends for less creativity on the part of the instructor. I also find it more adult than Interchange but your students might go for that.... But this just means that in so many ways, a textbook also must suit the personality and teaching style of the instructor. So it always isn't just a cut and dry -- good or bad....
Eric's recommendation of a project is good but also can be a lot more demanding than it first seems. I have often wanted to try Andrew Parks - Project based English (in our media fire account under books/articles. ) but haven't got around to it....
After looking at all the avilable titles, my co-teacher and I liked Go for it! the best. The content is aimed specifically at middle and high school students. There's just one problem, even though the book jacket lists a classroom CD, they book store only stocks casette tapes. They also said you can't get the Go For It CD in Korea. I have my doubts so I'll be phoning Kyobo and Bandi and Luni's today. BEcause of the potential language barrier, do you know if Korean stores sell the CD, and if not, how best to record casette content onto CD for easier use.
They just don't sell the classroom CD in Korea. The nearest location is in Japan. If you or anyone you know has connections there, then having them buy the CD and shipping it might be the only option. Tapes appear to be more copy proof also so that's not even an option. I'm the only one using the book so cueing the tape hasn't been as big a problem as I thought.
After having used the book for about three weeks now, I'd give it a thumbs up probably because it suits my teaching style and I can adapt and substitute better/different activities for my class with the time I would have spent planning lessons from scratch.
I discovered that one of my Korean co-teachers has a good picture dictionary. The pictures are a time saver and can be used in many games and review activities along side the book.