Em in Asia!

My Experiences Living and Teaching in South Korea

Final Address


Today there was a farewell assembly, where I received flowers and presents from the students and teachers and I was able to give a speech (my 마지막 인사 – final greeting). I was excited to do this, because for the first time I could say what I wanted to my lower level students and they would theoretically completely understand me, because I was going to have a translator, and also give part of the speech in Korean. The students became apprehensive out once I started speaking in English, until we reassured them that we would translate, and then completely freaked out when I started speaking Korean. No one was completely surprised because I use a fair amount of Korean in the classroom, but no one realized to what extent I could speak Korean.

Here’s my speech, the first half was translated by my co-teacher, and the second half I said on my own:

“I think learning a foreign language is one of the most difficult things a person can do. You must learn not only grammar and vocabulary, but you must also have a lot of self-confidence.

The purpose of learning a foreign language is to communicate. In order to speak a foreign language you must feel two things. One – that you can do it. You know the vocabulary, grammar, etc. Two – that you are worth listening to, that you have interesting and important things to say.

I hope you never think that you are boring, or you have nothing to share. My favorite SGHS memories are from Sports Day, school trips, and when you came and talked to me outside of the classroom.  You are all interesting, beautiful, intelligent people. I am proud of how hard you have worked, and how far you have come, and I am proud to say “these are my students.”

Please don’t be shy. Please use your time next semester in conversation class to practice speaking and build self-confidence. If you do this, the new teacher cannot help loving you.

However, it is easy for me to say this in English, because I am an English teacher. Every day you must speak to me in a foreign language, so now I will also speak in a foreign language…



삽교고등학교에서 가르치는 것이 재미있었어요. 제가 처음으로 선생님이 되어 기분이 좋았어요.

Teaching at SGHS this year was very fun. This was my first time teaching and I had a good experience.

외국어 배우기 어렵고 외국어 말하기 아주 무서워요.

Learning a foreign language is difficult, but speaking a foreign language is especially scary.

수업중에서  수고했어요. 말하기가 어렵지만 열심히 했어요. 저는여러분이 자랑스러워요.

In class you worked very hard. Though speaking is difficult you were enthusiastic. I am proud of you.

삼 학년 – 수능 잘보세요!

3rd grade –Do well on the suneung (college entrance exam)!

일 학년- 네 달 동안 좋았어요. 일 년 동안 가르칠 수 없어서 죄송해요 

1st grade – It was very fun teaching you for 6 months. I am sorry I cannot teach you for a full year.

이 학년- 매일 많은 에너지를 가지고 있어요. 일 년 동안 가르칠 수 있어서 행복했어요.  당신들은 제가 좋은 선생님이 되도록 도와주었어요. 

2nd grade – everyday you have a lot of energy. I was able to teach you for one year so I am happy. You helped me become a good teacher.

학생들 덕분에 삽교고등학교에서 있는 동안 즐거운 시간을 보냈어요.

Because of the students, I had a wonderful time at SGHS.

꼭 기억 해주세요. 감사합니다.

Please don’t forget me. Thank you.

posted under School
2 Comments to

“Final Address”

  1. Avatar July 17th, 2011 at 10:15 am Amy Says:

    I literally choked up when reading this out loud to my husband. OK, now I have to go get a whole box of kleenex…
    Bravo! Kudos! I’m a fan!
    Let me know if you need a pen pal for those future classes!!

  2. Avatar December 23rd, 2011 at 2:58 pm Em in Asia! » Blog Archive » End of the Year Newspaper Article Says:

    […] to finish it in time, but I just finished it about a half hour ago. For those of you that read my final address to the SGHS students parts of this may seem familiar, and that’s because I took direct inspiration from that […]

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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.