More Korean teachers coming to Northwest

Posted 3/17/09

Eleutian was awarded a contract by Incheon city government to coordinate the learning experience for the teachers.

The teachers will live in a motel in Cody while taking courses at Northwest College in Powell and at the college's center in Cody …

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More Korean teachers coming to Northwest


As 30 school teachers adjust to being back home in Incheon, South Korea, after studying English at Northwest College for six months, 40 more teachers are preparing to come to northwest Wyoming.The new group — 20 elementary and 20 middle- and high-school teachers — will study English, Western American culture and the American education system here for 11 months.

Eleutian was awarded a contract by Incheon city government to coordinate the learning experience for the teachers.

The teachers will live in a motel in Cody while taking courses at Northwest College in Powell and at the college's center in Cody until the end of the spring semester. They will live in residence halls on campus here during the summer and fall.

Then, in January, they will live with host families while they complete a practicum course, during which they will they work with teachers in classrooms around the Big Horn Basin.

Moore said the teachers who just returned home and the Incheon city officials who sent them here were happy with their experience in Wyoming.

“Overall, it went very, very well,” he said. “It was the first project for us of this kind, so it was a learning experience for us. There are always some problems here and there, but we were able to learn from them. I think the teachers were extremely happy and overall pleased with the program.”

While some teachers were anxious to return to home and families, “some have fallen in love with Wyoming,” he said.

Hyoun Ju Jeon is an adviser to the mayor of Incheon in the English Education Division. Jeon, is living at Trapper Village West, and was largely responsible for the decision to bring teachers from Incheon, a city of 2.75 million people, to rural northern Wyoming.

“This was one of my projects for teaching English,” she said. “Even Korean English teachers can't speak English well. They can read it only. Writing and grammar are different.”

Jeon said she met Gov. Dave Freudenthal in July.

“We discussed coming to Wyoming and arranging an opportunity for a practicum,” she said. “He was very impressed and decided to do this project.”

Freudenthal said he likes to think he contributed to the arrangement.

“I think what Eleutian Technology is doing is just amazing,” he said. “They firmed up this notion that 30 Korean teachers could come and live in Park County, in recognition that this area is probably more typical of American life than what they might get in an urban area. It probably provides more useful experiences in terms of what they can learn here, in a more intensive environment. It's just a better part of America.”

Jeon said she previously arranged for similar programs in two Canadian cities, Ottawa and Toronto, Canada, but the practicums in the schools there were not good, she said.

At Northwest College, “we had a great opportunity to do a practicum,” she said.

Moore said he visited with NWC education instructors Mary Ann Wurzel and Donna Whitson, who both said the Korean teachers' English skills improved dramatically as a result of their practicum experiences.

“They actually got to go out there and use the skills they'd gained over the previous four months,” he said. “That was important.”

Jeon said Incheon city leaders' overarching goal in sending teachers to learn English at Northwest College is attracting more economic development to the city by improving residents' English-speaking ability.

Jeon said she convinced the teachers and city leaders that Wyoming was the best place to go.

“Wyoming has the original Western culture,” she said. “I traveled to big cities in the world — Toronto and Ottawa (Canada), New York City, Los Angeles ... all big cities are the same. They don't preserve the Western culture.”

Northwest College worked well with Incheon city officials to make it easy for the teachers to come here, and the low student-teacher ratio at the college is beneficial as well, she said.

“(NWC instructors) guide the students well,” she said.

“Since I arrived, this is the best place to experience Western culture and experience English,” she said. “Here, we have a lot of room, a lot of space ... and the people are friendly and warm. You can feel their hospitality.”

Freudenthal said that's not something everyone recognizes about the Big Horn Basin.

“They don't necessarily give us credit for being multicultural or open-minded,” he said. Freudenthal cited the large number of international students attending Northwest College and local efforts to develop an interpretation center at the Heart Mountain Relocation site.

“I just think there's a lot of things going on up there that nobody realizes.”