"The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page." - Saint Augustine

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Immersion of English Education

With my 4th graders today. I see them 3 times a week which is the most out of any of my classes.
I'm getting very close with them and getting to learn so much about them. They're amazing!
So excited during our hot potato game.

Looking at the board to see what sentence to read. "Yesterday was...",  "Today is...", or "Tomorrow will be..."

Passing the ball quickly!

Some of the students write on their hands in Korean how to pronounce tricky English words . I think Mary was writing "Two thousand and ten." 

Since I stayed after school talking with Sunny Lee until 6pm it looked gorgeous from the 5th floor of my school.

I'd never seen the fountain in the center of Cheongdo at night before. Beautiful!

Not that this is really news to me, but I’ve really realized how much of a people person I am. 9 times out of 10 I’d rather be surrounded by people than alone (I do like SOME alone time!). I can be anywhere in the world and find that the people I surround myself with are a big part of my happiness. I know that I’m the type of person who can make the best out of any situation and I find myself going around with a smile on my face and being very friendly and open-minded here in Korea. I love talking with people and hearing their stories. I have a journal that I write in almost daily and I thought I would share some things on here also.

Today I had a very interesting conversation with the English conversation teacher at my school, Sunny Lee. She’s only at my school on Monday and Tuesdays but we find time to have a good conversation everyday. She’s about 45 years old and has taught English in Mongolia. She’s always been so helpful and informative as I ask many questions about Korean culture and especially about their educational system. One time previously we had a conversation about dating and marriage in Korea. She was telling me that divorce is not very common in Korea. Sunny Lee is a widow (her husband died 10 years ago) and she told me that most divorced/widowed people stay single because it’s hard for them to find someone around their age who is single since most people stay married. She has a 23 year old son who she won’t allow to have a girlfriend until he finishes his schooling. This made me think about how back in the states many parents may have influences on their children but ultimately it’s up to the child to do what they want. It seems here in Korea (and in Asian culture in general from what I’ve heard) that more children respect their parents and would not date or get married too young if their parents didn’t agree with it. It’s very rare that Koreans get married before 25 years old and the age to get married is getting higher since more people are focusing on their education and getting a job first. As I was sharing what American couples do she told me that it is very uncommon for Koran couples to live together before marriage and especially if they haven’t been dating for a long time.

I had asked Eunhye (my co teacher) previously about why Koreans want to speak English and she had told me that historically the U.S. has always supported Korea and they are seen as the brother/father country to Korea. Eunhye said that the U.S. is the leader of the world and a characteristic of Korean people is to follow the strong and this is why they follow the American’s ways- including English.

Today I talked with Sunny Lee for about 45 minutes after school and learned quite a bit about the immersion of English education in Korean schooling. She said Koreans want to learn English for three reasons:
1. To get a better job.
2. To enter a good University
3. To have the ability to speak with foreigners.

Sunny Lee herself is studying English in her Master’s program because she sees more job possibilities including teaching English conversation at the University level. The Korean government has recognized the problem with many Koreans not being able to speak English and they want their children to learn through listening, reading, and writing. I was curious to find out what other languages are important to learn here in Korea. Being able to fluently speak English (followed by Chinese, then Japanese, and then Spanish, Vietnamese, Russian, Mongolian, German, etc.) creates the most opportunities. Sunny Lee told me that China is developing rapidly and Koreans are thinking that Chinese will be more important in the future. It was so funny when Sunny Lee was trying to tell me how many people there are in the world and we both laughed as she wrote 660,000,000 on paper and asked me how to say it. She then wrote that 160,000,000 people are Chinese. This was to further support her statement about China’s booming economy!

Back when Sunny Lee was in school there was no English in elementary education and English officially started in middle school. English education in elementary schools started only 10 years ago so this is still fairly new. At my school I am the only teacher who is teaching English to the 1st and 2nd graders which is really interesting to me considering the years considered to be “early childhood” years are the BEST years for learning a foreign language. The Korean government is starting to see that “young learners” are capable of learning English and that this is an optimal time to do so. I was surprised to see there isn’t more emphasis on learning English during these ages, but apparently they are starting to increase (adding one more class a week) English next year.

I absolutely love learning about the educational system here and think it would be incredibly interesting to get to look at other educational systems around the world. Education is definitely my passion and there are so many wonderful and interesting things involved with it. Teaching in Korea is an amazing experience and has absolutely solidified my desire to be a teacher. J

Another wonderful letter from my mom full of lavender, newspaper/magazine articles and
a cute Halloween picture of dogs from Hiller's advertisement. :)

1 comment:

  1. Julie, you're definitely a "social butterfly", haha. Keep up the good conversation with Ms Lee. I've also heard from my mentors that China will become powerful beyond our imagination. The world's 1/5 population speaks some dialects of Chinese.I am learning HanMoon while I'm in Korea(like I told you during our Skype date) even though Chinese don't really speak HanMoon. It's really fun!
    But from my understanding, Korea's divorce rate ranks very high in the world especially due to rapid enconomic modernization. Also the multicultural marriage seems to be a trend right now and probably in the future as well.I see a lot of Korean men with women from South Asia. And many divorces have been happening due to cultural clash.
    Not very proud to point it out, but I hope this will give you both aspects of the issue. Perhaps Koreans still treat divorce as more of taboo more than Americans in general.