Korean ESL Teachers Visit Local Schools Through TAMIU

Korean ESL Teachers Visit
Local Schools Through TAMIU

Students in Laredo work hard.

That’s what Jeong Hwa (Lynn) Kwon and Eun Pil (Ginny) Kim, English as a Second Language teachers from Korea, said they are going to tell their students when they return to Korea. (photo)

“I want to show them what the real America is like. Korean students think they study so hard and that American students don’t study so hard—they just stick to extra activities after school. But I felt they study hard here because there are so many kinds of tests here. I need to let my students know even American students study hard, so you need to study hard,” said Kim.

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

“Through the consortium, we and other institutions have participated in the Fulbright Korean Teachers of English Program. Out of the past six years, we have participated three times,” said Jannet García, TAMIU International Education director.

TAMIU’s division of international programs, in consultation with the College of Education, coordinates the program and makes sure everything runs smoothly and that all parties involved receive the maximum benefit from the experience, explained García.

“It allows us to bring a little bit of what the ‘I’ in TAMIU stands for directly into the community. Not only can we expose the Koreans to US culture, but our local students and teachers also experience another culture up close, in a setting that is very open to questions and sharing experiences,” she added.

 “Elementary school students are so cute and curious about anything. They tried on our traditional Korean clothing, hanbok, but it was too big for them. There were many volunteers to wear the traditional clothes,” added Kwon.

“I have tons of pictures and some videotapes of classes and I am going to show them to my students so they will get to better know the real experience in an American public middle school. We just get information from the movies and Internet, but that does not show real life in America. There are things that I collected here that will be very useful for my students and they can touch the items,” said Kwon, a middle school teacher.

During their stay in Laredo, Kwon and Kim observed ESL and gifted and talented classes at L.J. Christen School and J.W. Nixon High School, and in the Hebbronville Independent School District and Oilton I.S.D.

“They spent most of their two weeks doing classroom observation, team teaching and other school-related activities at their assigned host schools and they also spent a day visiting Hebbronville and Oilton, where they gave cultural presentations to fourth and fifth grade students. They also observed ESL classes taught through TAMIU’s International Language Institute,” explained García.

“In the ESL classes, I expected to hear more English than Spanish, but some kids are not speaking English at all because they just got here. It was hard for me to communicate with them. I am in the United States and I need to hear a lot of English, but I hear a lot of Spanish,” said Kwon.

Kim, a high school teacher, observed classes at Nixon High School, and said she expected American students to be more respectful during class and to know more about geography.

“The last class I joined was a very good class. They asked me many questions about Korean culture and Korean education system. The saddest thing was that many of the students don’t know where Korea is. Few students knew it is one of the Asian countries.

However, Kim was impressed with Nixon High School’s expansive campus and equipment.

“The students have more facilities than Korea. In Korea, it is difficult to get special facilities because it is expensive. Here, students have expensive cameras and big facilities for basketball, football and baseball. The campus here is really really big compared to a Korean high school,” she said.

Both teachers agreed that local students need longer break times and recess and expressed surprise over the school’s safety measures.

“They lock the door and the main gates. That was shocking to me,” said Kim.

But both also said the thing they really wanted to incorporate into their classrooms were decorations.

“I love the decorations of the teachers in the classrooms,” admitted Kwon.

“I’m so envious of American teachers because they have their own rooms and they can decorate and show their tastes. I really want to visit the teacher’s store to buy many things to decorate my own classroom, if I get my own classroom,” Kim confessed.

“Ginny and Lynn have been wonderful visitors and truly have been open in sharing their experiences, culture and thoughts on their visit to the US. They have made the world a bit smaller for many students and teachers and allowed us to get a glimpse of Asian life and education. The relationships with the host families has been great and we hope they will visit Laredo again,” said García.

For more information, please contact García at 326.2566 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.

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