World Geography – Korea Style

I haven’t quite figured out why, but the vast majority of students in my school have absolutely zero geography knowledge.  For that reason, I decided to do a lesson on geography this week.  So far, it has been a big hit.  Color me surprised.

After we review cardinal directions and continents, we move on to countries.  I decided not to teach any country names this week.  I think that would be too much to take in at once.  Instead, we have a competition.  I break the classes down into teams of 6 and give each team a blank piece of paper.  They have to write the names of as many countries as they can in five minutes (in English).  I don’t count spelling, as long as I understand what they meant.

To help them along, I show the first five minutes of this video immediately before beginning the game:

To my surprise, not a bit of it sinks in.  In my first five classes, no team wrote down more than twelve country names.  It was incredible.  They simply couldn’t think of the names.  After a few classes, I decided to ask them how many names they know in Korean.  Same result.  They just don’t know the names or locations of other countries.

Then this morning, one of my students went all Seabiscuit on me and wrote down the names of 37 countries.  I couldn’t believe it.  He even managed to spell half of them right – which is rare.  The students do a pretty good job of spelling names phonetically, but it is incredibly difficult for a non English speaker to spell country names correctly.

I think this is going to have to be a two-week lesson.  Hopefully something will sink in.  Hell, I may teach these kids something after all.

Until next time.


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