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Apr 2, 2012

Teaching in Asia: the book!

If you are a regular reader of this blog, or if you pay any attention to Japan-based online communities (be it on Twitter, YouTube, etc.), you probably know who Kevin is.

Kevin is a blogger, a vlogger (with several YouTube channels, e.g. jlandkev, busankevin, runcauseitsfun), and is quite active on Twitter. Kevin is also a long-distance runner. You may remember his recent marathons (in Osaka and Kobe), or his homemade ultramarathon last year to raise funds for Save the Children Japan following the earthquake and tsunami. Kevin is also a teacher.

If you put together his experience (having taught in Korea and Japan as well as in Canada) and his strong online presence, it is no surprise that he is the go-to person for many people considering teaching in Asia, and Kevin decided to put all the information and advice he has to offer in a book, "Teaching in Asia: Tales and the Real Deal".

I have only met Kevin twice (at YouTube and content creator events, one of which he was organising), but he is a person I appreciate interacting with online, so I decided to buy a copy of his book.

Part of my work involves teaching to undergraduate and postgraduate university students. Even though the subjects and students we deal with are quite different, I was still curious to read about his perspectives on teaching. There is always something to be learnt from someone with such a vast experience.

In one chapter, he discusses the idea of over-preparing a class, and I could not agree more on the virtues of over-preparation when you are starting up, whether it is a new subject, a new age group, or your first class altogether. You can never know what type of class you will have in front of you, how reactive (or passive) they will be, how fast they will grasp new concepts, and so on. The more experience you get, the easier it is to quickly gauge a class and adapt to it, but having extra content never hurts, especially when you begin.

There are many other chapters I found useful, such as his experience dealing with gifted students.

Imagine you arrive in a new environment, and invite a more experience individual to fill you in on the details over a few drinks. This book feels exactly like that: it is a relaxed and friendly, yet well thought-off, account from someone who knows what he is talking about.

In one chapter, Kevin talks about Master Lee, a Tae Kwon Do instructor who despite being in his early thirties seemed far wiser. After reading this book, I have no doubt that Kevin is a black belt at teaching, and if you have any interesting in this art, I highly recommend his book.

I think the book will also be of interest to more experienced teachers. After all, there is always room for improvement. I would even go as far as saying that as soon as you stop trying to improve, you are actually moving backwards.

There is no reason not to buy this book, especially given the bargain price... You will find all the details on the blog Kevin has prepared to accompany the book.

Happy reading!

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