Korean ESL Teachers Visit Laredo Schools via TAMIU

Korean ESL Teachers Visit
Local Schools through TAMIU

Laredo students are not afraid to ask questions.

That’s what Lee Seungchul (Benny) and Kyungwook Lee (Vincent), two English as Second Language teachers from South Korea, said was one of the most surprising differences about teaching in Laredo during their recent visit here.

“Due to the culture, students in Korea tend to be a bit more shy, only very few raise their hands and ask questions during class. Here everyone wants to ask questions without hesitation,” said Benny.

Benny and Vincent were in Laredo for 13 days as a part of the Fulbright American Studies Institute for Korean Secondary School Teachers of English through the Texas International Education Consortium (TIEC). Texas A&M International University is one of the 32 Texas University members of TIEC.

TAMIU’s Division of International Programs, in conjunction with the College of Education, organizes the program, insuring that all runs well and that all involved receive the utmost benefit of the experience.  

Last year, TAMIU hosted two female Korean teachers as part of the same program. This year, all visiting teachers were male. Local families host the visiting Korean teachers for the duration of their stay, giving them a chance to get to know and interact with an American family, and helping them grow in their conversational English ability.

“The hope is that they will return with ideas for teaching English to their students when they return home to Korea,” said Anne Frey, American host and associate director of the TAMIU Office of Graduate Studies.  

Lee Seungchul (Benny), Anne Frey, Kyungwook Lee (Vincent) and Dr. Jaime Ortiz

Lee Seungchul (Benny) and Kyungwook Lee (Vincent) first and third from left, visited Laredo as a part of the Fulbright American Studies Institute for Korean Secondary School Teachers of English through the Texas International Education Consortium (TIEC). They are pictured with their American host and associate director of the TAMIU Office of Graduate Studies, Anne Frey and Dr. Jaime S. Ortiz, TAMIU associate vice president for International Programs.

Benny and Vincent both teach high school level English in South Korea. While they were in Laredo they visited and taught at United High School and Lamar Middle School, spending a week in each school.  They also gave presentations about Korea to TAMIU students.

“It was good to observe teaching methods in the ESL to AP English classrooms. It gave us a better feel for different teachers’ strategies for teaching English,” said Vincent.

“It seems to me that the students and staff of Lamar Middle School, United High School and TAMIU, who got to meet our Korean guests, benefited quite a bit by meeting people from another country and by hearing about the life and culture of Korea,” said Frey, “Some brave students even had some of their questions about Korea answered during the visit.”

When asked about their experience in Laredo, Benny said that there are a lot of differences between South Korea and Laredo.

“With all the differences, it was very exciting to visit Laredo. Most Koreans do not have the opportunity to visit a city like Laredo, which borders Mexico. Only some have a chance to come here including us,” said Benny.

“I have enjoyed doing everything here in Laredo,” said Vincent.

“Living here for two weeks which is just a short time, we tried to do as much as possible to and get the full experience,” said Benny.

During their stay they took a tour of Laredo, visited downtown, met some Korean families who own local businesses and sampled food at some local restaurants. Benny and Vincent attended all the Frey’s regular social events such as Sunday church service, an engagement party and one of the Laredo Bucks’ games.

“Close friends of ours offered us box seat tickets to a Friday night Bucks game that ended up being very exciting right up to the end. The Bucks won in the very last few minutes of overtime and both Benny and Vincent were as excited as the rest of us,” said Frey.  

“About 27 South Korean English teachers are a part of the same program and are visiting schools all over Texas. At the end of our visit here in Laredo, we will meet back with the group in Austin to discuss our experiences and then a week later we will return to Korea,” said Vincent.

“Our guests will go back to their classrooms in Korea where they teach English to their high school students and, based on their visit, are much more knowledgeable about our US culture, the State of Texas, our diversity and our language,” said Frey.

For more information, please contact Jannet García, TAMIU director of International Education, at 326.2565 or jannetg@tamiu.edu or visit offices in Anthony J. and Georgia A. Pellegrino Hall, room 301.

University office hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday.

This story by Student Intern Rebecca Martinez.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at prmis@tamiu.edu