Teaching English in Seongdong-gu

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Although this was completely unexpected, we were able to teach english in Seongdong-gu twice!

I’ve always thought that maybe, just maybe, if I totally want to change the course of my life I would move to another country and teach english. Unfortunately, I can’t see myself being so far away from my family for years at time. So, it was a pleasure to get to do this. The International Cooperation Team is just a small part of the bigger body that makes up the Seongdong-gu office. The building is made up of many public servants who carry out special tasks that all are geared towards the betterment of the city as a whole. So for example, the International Cooperation Team benefits the city because they are making connections with foreign cities. A big initiative that the city is very proud of is their dedication to education for all citizens, no matter what age or gender. There are many community centers around the city that are dedicated to doing just that.

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The first community center we visited was the Dok Seo Dang Liberal Arts Center. While we were there we sat in on an english class for high school students. After introducing ourselves to the students, we watched their teacher engage with them and discuss how they will learn for the next couple of months. The class only meets about once a month, but the class lasts for about an hour and they are only allowed to speak english. The next community center we visited, we were in charge of teaching and it went a little bit different than with the high school students.

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The students we taught were about 30 and up in age, and they were very talkative! everyone was eager to learn from us, so that instantly melted away any doubt I may have has that day.

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Teaching the EuengBong English Class has been one of the best experiences I have had while here in Seongdong-Gu. Colleen and I were able to work with a class of 16 students, almost all female with the exception of one male. The class has been around for ten years, but Colleen and I were the first native speakers to visit the class.

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We were not sure what to expect, but I was impressed with many of their speaking and writing abilities. We all introduced ourselves to each other, and then we played a game that helped each student compare their similarities. I noticed that many of the student’s fear of speaking English is what stops them from speaking it better. With more practice they will be just fine!

The next time we visited them they were so familiar with us from the previous class that it was a breeze. It was interesting to see how even though there was somewhat of a language barrier between us we could still understand body language, facial expressions, and emotional reactions. So if anyone was confused I could tell because they were looking around the classroom trying to figure out what was going on. We laughed together when things were funny, and we shared expressions of amazement when we learned something new from each other. We’re all people together here, human, even though our tongues are different. We know that already, but you don’t get to experience it like that everyday.

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The last class we taught was our special project because it was filmed, and used for a news package that will be aired on the Seongdong news. We worked with a producer from the production department in the Seongdong-gu office, and he discussed logistics with us the day before we taught the class. It is very much like working on a news package in America. The producer goes over, and over, and over what needs to down and how. The talent (me and Colleen) still ask a million questions, but just add a million more because there’s a language barrier! The producer could speak some english, but we relied heavily on our supervisor to translate for us throughout the whole process. This project took about 4 days to complete. Our first day with the students included introducing our selves, asking what they wanted to learn from us, and a short game.  A few days later we met with our producer to discuss how our next class day would go, dubbing, and the kind of b-roll that would be shot. On the 2nd class day we did an activity that included all of the topics they wanted to discuss. That included things like how to talk about food, family, memories, personality, and differences between our customs. The producer filmed clips from the class, b-roll was recorded, a tour of the building, and an intro and outro was recorded as well. On the final day we helped create a script that would be dubbed over the b-roll that was previously recorded. After recording the script it was a wrap!

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Out of all of the work we had to do during the trip this was by far the best for me because it let me use all of my skills. Now typically, I opt out of doing anything in front of a camera. I absolutely hate because I am a behind the scenes girl at heart, but this experience dragged me out of my comfort zone. How often do you get to be a reporter for a korean news outlet, right?

 

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