Em in Asia!

My Experiences Living and Teaching in South Korea
Browsing Pen Pal Project

The Effects of the Pen Pal Project

June23

Remember that pen pal project I’m doing with students?  Almost everyday I receive pictures and a letter from someone writing to their SGHS penpal. I put the pictures onto Flickr and then I write the blog entry, and take the pictures from Flickr (to save space) and put them in the blog post. Then at the beginning of every class I choose one letter (I try to pick easy to understand letters, or letters from cool places with great pictures) to share with the class and we read through it and comprehend it together. After that I show all of the pictures from all of the other letters we received that week, give brief backgrounds about the people who went them and the locations of the letter, and then give physical copies of the letters to each student. I unfortunately don’t have time to go over all of the letters in detail with the whole class, but at least this way we can read one letter together, they can see all of the pictures, and people get physical copies of their individual letters.

It’s a fun project, but I’m never sure how much students are getting out of it. They’re always excited to receive letters, but how much do they pay attention to the letters versus the pictures? I tried to get people who live in many different places and have many different jobs and lifestyles to write back, do my students understand or internalize that at all? Do any of my students interact with the project outside of class?

I just found out that yes, in fact, at least some of the students are interacting with this project outside of class. A student dropped by the teacher’s office during the lunch period and asked for my help. She’s a 2nd grade intermediate student, which means she’s very busy, and spends most of her free time studying. She put down in front of me a letter she written to her penpal in response to his letter, and asked me to help her edit it. She was so pleased with her penpal’s letter, she wanted to write one back to respond and to say thank you. I never even suggested that students should write back, this was her idea entirely.  I helped her edit it, and then she told me she would give me a copy so I could send it to her penpal. A student did work outside of class of her own free will, practicing English, because of my project. I feel really happy right now. Thanks everyone, who wrote a letter to a SGHS student – it means a lot to me, and it apparently means a lot more to them than I had thought or even hoped it would.

No I’m not talking about “Atlanta”

April25

It took the SG post office 15 minutes to figure out where “Georgia” the country was, but I sent off all 59 letters! Thanks to everyone who volunteered and who recruited volunteers for me, you should be getting letters in 1 – 3 weeks.

Also because it’s the day after Easter I keep getting hardboiled eggs as presents. What a delicious and nutritious teacher’s office snack! If only I was going straight home after school… I’m a little scared that these hardboiled eggs are going to explode in my bag.

Call for Pen Pals… pretty pretty please

April20

Remember the project I told you about? I’m sending off half of the letters today!* The letters are mostly done, and I’m giving the students 10 minutes at the beginning of class to complete them. Today we will finish the letters, draw pictures, address our envelopes, I will theoretically go to the post office, and then 30 lucky people will get letters from my students in approximately 1 – 3 weeks! I am doing this with two classes, so this means we are approximately half way through the project. I will post pictures of the students working to the link above later this day so check back.

Are you mad jealous that you won’t be receiving a really awesome letter? Fear not! I still need about 20 volunteers to email me their mailing address. Do you live in Korea? Do you have friends? Send -after getting express permission from them to send personal information to a stranger- their addresses my way!

Happy Wednesday!

Emily Teacher

*…if I can make it to the post office before it closes.

Schoolhouse Crush?

April13

This post title does not refer to me.

So one of my advanced students has taken to saying “I miss you so much(e)” whenever he sees me, and you know, randomly throughout conversation, to the point where I’m not quite sure he actually knows what that phrase means. Today he came into the teacher’s office because he had hurt himself so he came up to me to show his academic war wound (a cut on his finger) and chat.

“Emily Teacher! I hurt myself! I miss you so much(e)”
“Oh no I’m sorry! Stop hurting yourself” (this is the second time this week he’s hurt himself). I continue to wrestle with the copy machine that has decided to eat my lesson plan and spit only half of it out, and is now choking on my scholastic endeavours.
“I am inspired by your class.”
“Really?” That’s something every teacher wants to hear. “That’s so sweet”
“I like you. I like you. I like like you. I like you very much(e). Much(e) much(e). I miss you so much(e).”
“… thank you?” (honestly, I’m still not entirely sure what to say to stuff like this. As I’m really not that far in age from my students I feel like it’s inappropriate to say “I miss you so much(e)” back, so I’ve settled for the super awkward “thank you” which actually doesn’t make a lot of sense… also not sure he’s inspired in the way that I want to be inspiring >.<)
“Our class is next next day!”
“Yes it is! Friday! I will see you on Friday!”
“Yes. I miss you so much(e) goodbye.”

Oh Tuesdays…

In other news I’m starting a pen pal project! I’ve already bothered people about it on facebook/email/gchat/skype but the project deadline’s approaching and I still need about 40 or so more addresses, so I’m going to shamelessly plug the project. Basically it’s a pen pal project with my two intermediate classes where they write a letter and draw a picture of themselves and send them to America. The recipient of the letter takes a picture with/of the drawing and writes a letter back in email form, and emails both the picture and letter to me at msemilyteacher@gmail.com. Then the recipient sends the student’s original letter and picture to someone else and the process repeats. I’m going to be documenting the whole thing through the blog I have shamelessly plugged not once but twice. click it. CLICK IT.

As most of my readers live in South Korea… how can you guys help? Well, do you have friends outside of Korea that speak English? If 진구가 없어요 do you have, family, a co-worker, anyone who you communicate with in any shape or form? If you know anyone who’d like to get involved please have them check out the project description on the blog and then email me their mailing address at msemilyteacher@gmail.com. For my non-Korea-dwelling readers who want to get involved send me your mailing addresses at the aforementioned email address, but also feel free to talk to friends etc, the more the merrier!

안녕하세요! My name is Emily and when I started this blog I had received a 2010 – 2011 F*lbright grant to teach English in South Korea.  I then decided to apply to renew my grant, so I am now staying in Korea until July 2012. This blog is not an official F*lbright Program blog, and the views expressed are my own and not those of the F*lbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations.

I graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a degree in Philosophy Pre-Law and Classical Civilizations, and found myself 3 months later teaching English at SGHS. The town that I taught in, SG, is a small town of 12,000 people, an “읍” (eup) rather than a “시” (shi – city), and though it was sometimes hard teaching in such a small town I really enjoyed the unique experience of being the first foreign teacher SGHS had ever had. I lived in the largest part of the county which is significantly bigger (40,000 people) than the town the school is situated in, but is also considered rural by Korean standards.

During my second grant period (2011-2012) I decided to change schools and I currently teach at CPHS which is located in an even smaller town than previously, in Jeollanamdo.

This blog is meant to serve as a reflection not only of being a Native English Speaking teacher in Korea, but also of living as a foreigner in rural Korea.



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