Teaching in Korea can be very stressful if you’re trying to teach in a perfect way. Most native English teachers are not a certified teacher which means we can make some serious mistakes when it comes to grammar and the actual mechanics of how a sentence works. If you teach your class as a serious person, it can be very difficult on yourself when you make a mistake in front of students. Here are a few strategies you can take up in the classroom to ease the stress and give yourself a relaxed teaching experience.
First, make jokes. You probably see your students once a week. They see your class as a relaxing time where they have a different experience in the classroom, which the do. There is nothing wrong with making jokes about yourself and your experience in Korea. For example when I made beebimbap for the first time I spent over 25,000won and 2 hours figuring out how to make it, buying all the food and cooking it. It turns out, it tasted horrible. When I tell this to students they love hearing about how I cooked the lettuce in the frying pan for too long or how I added sugar to the red pepper sauce. The absolutely love it!
Second, laugh up mistakes you make and treat it like it was ruse to see if students were listening. Or instead of spelling a word on the board, throw a dictionary professor de inglês nativo on the desk of one of the rowdy students (keeps the quiet and busy) and tell them to look up the word. When I make a mistake and a student points it out I fix it by rubbing the board with the palm of my hand, fixing the error and then telling students that “I was testing to see if you were paying attention”. We all laugh it off and move on.
Third, be invincible when your co-teachers correct you in front of the class. If you have a lot of experience dating, you know what I mean. You need to let others say things to you that are awkward to take and act indifferently. A woman once told me that she liked me because even though she pushed me away, it didn’t bother me, I kept being myself, talking to her and being normal. The same thing goes for teaching. If your co-teacher corrects you and says that the word “soccer” is in fact spelled “soccar” you can just grimace or smile and then say “well, that’s the way it’s spelled where I’m from!”
Who can argue with that, right? The important thing is that you always have a light air of knowledge and relaxation in the classroom. I’m not saying make a fool of yourself in front of students. Teach sound, true and accurate information, and tag yourself in front of students as “they guy who gets it, and is the best, but doesn’t understand how it works”. Most people have had that experience with something.