|Professor Paul Rogers|
|/Photography by Lee Min-jeong|
Dongguk University annually nominates “The Best Teaching Professors” from each college based on the lecture evaluation comments and scores from students in March. Professor Paul Rogers was proudly chosen as the best teaching professor in 2016 of the Dharma College. The Dongguk Post interviewed Professor Rogers to hear his own teaching methods and his life as a professor.
Q. Can you introduce yourself?
A. Hi, I am Paul Rogers. I moved to Korea in 2003, and I started working at Dongguk University in 2008. Before I came here, I worked at SETI (Seoul Education Training Institute). The SETI that I worked at was a government center that trained and tested Korean middle and high school teachers. I also worked at Seoul high school for a year and then, a university in Suwon for a couple of years. I have now been teaching various English courses at Dongguk for almost ten years.
Q. Do you have any comments about being selected as the best teaching professor?
A. It is always nice to be recognized for what you do, and I am very appreciative. However, there are many great teaching staffs in our department who work as hard as I do. Furthermore, I was nominated for the award last year and this is a new semester in a new academic year. To be honest, I am just thinking about this year’s classes right now.
Q. What is your secret behind such an accomplishment? Is there any special teaching methodology you use?
A. The lead instructor of the TESOL program in London and it was a great source of inspiration. Regarding methodology, this is not only one special method or technique as good teaching is about incorporating many, within the same lesson. Generally speaking, being creative with lesson materials and taking ownership of lesson delivery is important. Student-based activities, good board work, and different types of feedback are also key components. One thing that is stayed with me since TESOL is the importance of planning. My motto is “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” If you prepare well beforehand, almost every problem that you will have in class can be anticipated. If you can anticipate a problem at the planning stage, then you can fix it before you set foot in the classroom.
Q. Please tell us about your life in Dongguk University.
A. I am working as a professor and a course director. That means I do not teach as much as I used to, as I perform other duties for my department, such as designing syllabus, writing reports, getting feedback from other faculty members, and giving feedback to others.
And I also enjoy coming to work as it is a lovely campus, especially in spring.
Q. Which lecture do you see as the most memorable?
A. I would probably say “Current Issues and Discussion” as I taught it for nine years and made all the materials. That course also stands out in terms of scope as it was open to all majors and grades, students would discuss the topics, such as cosmetic surgery, military conscription, and smartphone addiction. Students would also debate for an hour in English, which is very difficult and I still find it very impressive that they were able to do so. However, I no longer teach that course and I can honestly say that each class has its rewards and I have enjoyed teaching every class I have ever been given at Dongguk.
Q. How do you build relationships with students during the class?
A. To me, it happens quite naturally. If I were to analyze what aspects have helped, I would say getting to know students on a personal level, trying to understand them, and giving regular feedback about their progress.
Q. Many students find that speaking and writing in English are the most difficult parts of studying English. Do you have any suggestions for them?
A. I would like to recommend them to use teaching facilities that this school offers. At Dongguk University, there is the “Global Lounge” on the fifth floor in the Hyehwa building. The Global Lounge has English Zone and English Clinic, which are free to Dongguk students. In English Zone, you can have a conversation with professors from the Dharma College who will facilitate group discussions. In addition, if you have problems with writing essays, resumes, and applications to study abroad, you can visit the English Clinic to get some help. Dongguk University has great facilities for students to receive practice and help. Language is culture and connecting with native speakers is a great way to reinforce the language skill.
Other than that, try to practice every day, even if it is only 15 minutes at home reading English articles or listening to the BBC or CNN news. Doing something in English every day is important for all language learners.
Q. What is your mindset as a professor of this year?
A. I always try to improve. I think standing still and staying at the same level are the same as going backwards. Hence, I always put my efforts on experimenting with new ideas in class. Within teaching, there should be creativity. It is not just going through the textbook. You need to keep it fresh; you need to add your own ideas and your own personality to the way you teach. Then it keeps you and your students interested. To keep reviewing and analyzing yourself is the key way to improve.
Lee Min-jeong firstname.lastname@example.org
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