Planning for Low Level k-8 Curriculum Classes in South Korea

ESL lesson plan with games for EPIK and TaLK teachers in South KoreaCurriculum classes in South Korea consist of approximately 20-30 students, and generally have the homeroom teacher as the NET’s co-teacher.  These classes are all larger in size, limited in space (for movement), include a mix of students with varying proficiency and interest in English, and are relatively short (40 minutes). EPIK and Talk teachers in South Korea have a textbook that largely follows the PPP lesson planning format, but it does not fully use communicative activities in context. The extent to which  NETs must follow the book will be determined by the school.

About the Author: Tania Sanclemente spent two years in South Korea, where she started as a teacher in rural public elementary schools and continued as a provincial coordinator for the TaLK program. Tania completed our 120-hour TESOL course.

Lesson Plan Format:

For our planning duties, we followed the PPP format from the textbook because my students were too low level for either TTT or TBL. ESA could work for the higher grades, but given the short 40 minute periods, this is essentially PPP without the switching between the study and engage phases. The advantage of PPP is that you can incorporate the engage phase (attention grabber) into the presentation stage. Although the remaining PPs are practiced slightly less in context, this is effective for the learners given their young age and proficiency level.

Read: Compare OnTESOL’s Courses

Supplementing the Textbook:

The textbook I used did a thorough job during the Presentation Stage of the lesson, although it did not include much elicitation. I prefer to have students “guessing” the topic beforehand so that they are more actively involved, but this is something that a new EFL teacher would have to prepare well for, as the Teacher-Talk-Time (TTT) is either too much or too unscripted.

For the Practice and Production stages, games are largely used where I worked because they are easy to implement with large classes. ESL Games help young students develop communicative competence and are especially useful for teaching vocabulary because you can address meaning with pronunciation.

The textbook games are not always “bad”, but they all carried a similar pace/had a similar style and therefore students would tire of them quickly. In many cases, having these novel activities at the end of the lesson were often viewed as a reward; that is, the games were also implemented as an indirect classroom management tool because students would have to work efficiently in order to play the game.

Read: Recommended TESOL Certification for South Korea

Intonation Reading Game

Materials: whiteboard.
Usage: any vocabulary.
Purpose: to have students learn the target vocabulary through creative repetition.
The teacher writes the target vocabulary on the board in the following format:
[word1]                                    [word2]                                    [word3]                                    [word4]
After having introduced the words, the teacher will underline one of the targets – this will be the word that students should stress. For example, in the series [dog – cat – monkey], the word “cat” should be emphasized. The teacher should do a demonstration and ask concept check questions before beginning (e.g. stressing a non-underlined word, and asking students if what they did was correct). The teacher may choose different actions to be performed for the underlined word: first round is yelling, second round is whispering, third round is doing an associated action, etc.


  • Students are engaged in mechanical repetition that is disguised as a “game”.
  • Low-prep activity that can be altered for any level and class size.


  • Requires students to be able to read the target words.
  • Students are not associating the words within a context, unless an associated action is used to accompany each word.

Read: Teach English in South Korea with EPIK. OnTESOL offers free job assistance for TESOL certified teachers

The Coin-flick Game

Materials: mini-whiteboards (alternative: paper), a coin per group.
Usage: reinforce a target question and answer.
Purpose: to have students engage in conversation using the target question/answer in self-regulated groups. In small groups, have students write their target question/answers on a single mini-whiteboard.

EPIK and TaLK lesson plan: ESL games for EPIK teachersThe purpose is to land one’s coin into a square. Through a demonstration, show that the first player “begins” at any corner. Their teammates must ask them the target question (e.g. “how’s the weather”?) and they must answer with the target answer of the square that they will try to flick their coin into (e.g. I would like to land in the top left box, so I would answer “it’s foggy”). Students are awarded a point if they answer they gave matches the box they landed in.


  • Students are engaged and activity using the target language
  • Game is applicable to any target question/answer, and is suitable for large size classes
  • The game is self-regulated, so the teacher can make rounds and check up on all groups


  • Students may take time to write the target words, especially if it is their first time playing the game (the teacher may alternatively prepare all the boards beforehand, but this increases the class prep time)
  • Students are not associating the words within a context, unless an associated action is used to accompany each word
  • Requires students to be able to read the target word

Related Articles:

Production Stage: Supplementing the Grade 6 Cheonjae Textbook with Authentic Material

Using L1 and End-of-Lesson Projects with Beginner Students

Supplementing Grade 4 and 5 Cheonjae Textbooks with Authentic Material