Em in Asia!

My Experiences Living and Teaching in South Korea

Newspaper Article


Only one more blogpost today, I promise. However I’ll be traveling tomorrow through Monday because of midterms, so just think of this as your payment for those long cold days with no updates.

I wrote an introduction about myself for the school newspaper, and my rockstar co-teacher helped me recruit (i.e. saw students in line for the ATM and dragged them over) students for a picture. They look so thrilled. The newspaper was published today, so here is my introduction!

“Introduction to CPHS – Emily Potosky

I came to Korea in the fall of 2010 as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant, a program that promotes intercultural exchange through teaching, with the intention of staying for only one year. However through my experiences living with a homestay family, traveling all over Korea, studying Korean, and most of all teaching my students, I realized that I was not ready to leave. I enjoy both being a teacher and being a student too much, so I decided to stay in Korea for one more year. I had heard from Ms. Sicat about how amazing CPHS was, and thus applied to teach here.

Last year I taught at SGHS School in South Chungcheong Province. That was my first introduction to Korean high school students. I am very impressed by the work ethic of the average Korean student, and after finishing two weeks at CPHS, I am especially impressed by the caliber of the students and faculty here. Even after such a short amount of time, just by observing the students and the teachers I can tell that CPHS takes education very seriously. I am honored and excited to spend this year as part of a faculty that puts so much effort and enthusiasm into quality teaching, because education is not only a means for improving job prospects, but it is also a means of improving yourself. I believe that all foreign language study, not just English and certainly not just American English, is important, because it is one of the best ways to learn about other cultures and other people.

As a teacher and a fellow foreign language learner I strive for communicative competence. Communicative competence can be loosely defined as the ability to communicate through knowledge of grammar as well as knowing the appropriate time to use certain utterances. It is impossible to learn a language just by memorizing phrases and grammar points – you also need to know when to use them! It is both possible to say something grammatically correct but completely contextually wrong, and to say something grammatically incorrect but nevertheless understood and appropriate for the situation. My goal as the native English teacher is to impart contextual knowledge to the best of my abilities, because I believe that it is more important to be understood than to be grammatically correct.

I am incredibly excited to get to know all of you. So please, I invite you to come practice speaking English with me outside of the classroom whenever you have the time. I am sure that I will learn a lot from you this year.”

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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.