Starting an English Cafe
One thing that my old university in the rice paddies did which I thought was a great idea was to start an English cafe. This university has lots of international students studying theology and they are all fluent in English since their program is English-based.
So, for a few hours each day they get paid to hang out in this English Cafe area and free-talk to anyone that comes to visit them. Lots of my students went and reported back to me about how it went–in general they seemed quite excited about it. A guy from Pakistan, a woman from Nepal and someone from the Philippines are the people that I heard about.
English Cafes with International Students: Why I Love This Idea
Free-talking with someone who doesn’t teach EFL all day long is a whole different world. It’s the real world in fact and these days, there are actually more non-native English speakers than native ones. The students can hear different accents besides mine or the North American one that they’re generally used to in Korea.
No Weary Old Teachers (like me!)
Most native English speakers are kind of weary and less than enthusiastic about having conversations in broken English because it’s our life in the classroom and we do it for 10-20 hours per week already. International students are probably far more enthusiastic about it because it’s not their normal thing.
You Really Can Master English!
I hope eyes are being opened to the possibilities that exist outside of Korea. And they can see that other people have mastered English, even though it’s not their first language.
No tests, no attendance, no classroom. No “teacher” style as it often becomes when it’s me doing something like this. It’s just a student talking to a student and they’re about the same age. It’s more fun and not so scary and the atmosphere is more like just hanging out. Hopefully some friendships can even develop which isn’t possible when it’s with me (I avoid because it’s a wee bit dangerous!).
You can pay an international student here in Korea something like $8 per hour, while the going rate for a native English speaker is $30+.
What do you think? Better with native English speaking teachers/professors or international students?
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