Korean teachers stand behind the Center for Civil and Human Rights sign in Atlanta

Welcome to Atlanta

Korean teachers explore city, observe classes to strengthen their own teaching

by Claire Miller 

Dasom Kim remembers seeing photos of the Georgia Aquarium in one of the textbooks she uses in her English classroom in Daejeon, South Korea.

She was keen to see the place up close when she arrived in Atlanta this summer as part of the Daejeon Extensive English Program (DEEP), a six-month English teaching program for K-12 Korean teachers with at least three years’ experience in the classroom.

“I really wanted to go to the Georgia Aquarium so I could tell my students what it’s like,” Kim said. “I was impressed with the beluga whales. This is one of the few chances I have in my life to see them.”

Korean teachers sit at a table and write on large Post-It pad

Teachers in the Daejeon Extensive English Program discuss how to pose thoughtful research questions they could study when they’re back in their own classrooms this fall.

The College of Education & Human Development, in conjunction with Georgia State University’s Intensive English Program and the Department of Applied Linguistics and English as a Second Language, hosted Kim and 16 other Korean teachers for the four-week professional development and school practicum section of DEEP, giving them the opportunity to visit local schools, tour city landmarks and develop research projects they could implement in their classrooms when they returned home.

In their first two weeks in Atlanta, the Daejeon teachers observed classes and taught lessons at Brockett Elementary School, Tucker Middle School and the Global Village Project.

CEHD Clinical Assistant Professor Katharine Kurumada, who supervised the Korean teachers’ elementary school visits, was pleased to see students learning more about Korean culture outside of class and sharing their findings with the visiting teachers.

“The elementary teachers shared how surprised they were at students’ reactions to their lessons. It seemed to be really affirming both for them as English Language Learners teaching lessons in their second language, but also as teachers,” Kurumada said. “We talked about how hard it can be to engage students – which seems to be an issue across the board – but it just showed how hungry students are for experiences from other cultures.”

Outside of their time in local classrooms, the Daejeon teachers took instructional excursions to the Atlanta Botanical Garden and the Center for Civil and Human Rights with Margareta Larsson and Debra Snell, faculty in the Intensive English Program.

Korean teachers walk along one of the bridges at the Atlanta Botanical Garden

Teachers participating in the Daejeon Extensive English Program walk along one of the bridges at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

Larsson and Snell also taught integrated skills courses to help them enhance their language and presentation skills. Gertrude Tinker Sachs, chair of the Department of Middle and Secondary Education, and doctoral students Elaine Tunde Johnson and Jee Hye Park taught methodology courses to help them pose thoughtful research questions – Does career education help increase students’ motivation to learn English? Will game activities motivate students in English class? – that they could study when they’re back in their own classrooms in the fall.

But the most memorable moments for Larsson and Snell came outside of class – biking along the Atlanta BeltLine, taking in the Atlanta Jazz Festival at Piedmont Park and hosting dinners for the Korean teachers at their homes.

“The smaller dinners were great and were highlights for everyone because we all had the chance to get to know each other better,” Snell said.

“I would recommend those dinners to anyone visiting here,” Larsson agreed. “They had the chance to see inside an American home and have conversations with Americans in a small setting. I hope that some of their stereotypes of American culture are shattered and they can share what they learned with others back home.”

To view photos from their visit, click here.