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2ND week Blog

After a week of intense touring around the city and learning about the prospects of unification, I finally got into Jiguchon school as an English teacher. Jiguchon school is an alternative school where multicultural students who migrated to Korea learn under a special educational curriculum, and we were in charge of teaching them English for 4 hours every day for 4 weeks. In the first week, Peining, Valentina, and I taught the 5th graders while other Duke Engagers taught the 6th graders. Contrary to my expectation that many of the students would be introverts due to their family problems (the principal mentioned that many of the students live apart from their parents), they were full of energy. In fact, none of the students seemed dispirited and I had a hard time controlling their overwhelming energy.

Back in high school, I was part of a volunteer organization that helped multicultural children with their afterschool programs. Based on this experience, I knew that multicultural students have relatively less frequent access to English programs than other Korean students. Normally, 5th graders would be able to speak fluently and read without problems, but it took us less than an hour to figure out that more than half of the kids didn’t understand what we were saying. Thankfully, a student who was good in English attempted to translate for the entire class, but I soon realized that it was not me who had control over the classroom. For me, it would have been easier if I used Korean all the time, but I wanted them to have a different experience as they rarely have a chance to learn English under native speakers. However, lack of personal connections with the students made me feel somewhat alienated despite the fact that I was leading the class.

Although I had originally planned to cover a lot of topics, I decided to spend more time in teaching through songs and fun activities like Simon Says and drawing after realizing that English is their second or third foreign language. Since some of them already have difficulty adjusting to Korean society, it seemed unnecessary to stress them out with learning about a new language and culture.

I know that it will become more difficult as we teach students in lower grades, but I wish to make this whole experience better by breaking apart from traditional Korean classroom settings and increasing one-on-one interaction with students through group activities.