Alumni Spotlight: Erin Stieler


Erin Stieler is from Waterloo, Ontario and is currently living and teaching in a small town in Jeollanamdo Province, South Korea. She attended the University of Waterloo for Anthropology and intends to peruse graduate school in 2013. She loves hiking, painting, and travelling.

Highlights: My teaching highlight was teaching English to adults and fellow teachers. I really enjoyed teaching adults as they are motivated to learn and often have interesting stories to share. I could really learn about life and culture in Korea, and depending on their English level, I had intelligent conversations with them. Also, teaching adults boosted my confidence as a teacher as it made me feel like I'm really making a difference in their learning. They always seemed so interested in my classes, and when they learned something they went out of their way to demonstrate it.

The highlight of my overall experience was learning to become proficient with living in a different culture. Very few people have the opportunity to have such an educating experience. Also, I have become more aware of what I want out of life. Living abroad not only teaches you about the people of a different culture, but it teaches you about yourself. I have developed this thirst for travel and learning that can be best served through more international experiences.

Morning: taught at an English Town, which is a mock village intended to provide an opportunity to immerse the students in English. Students learned and practiced dialogues as if they were in a real-life situation. Typically every morning, from Monday to Thursday, we saw different classes from different schools in the county. My co-teachers and I worked together to teach the classes, which involved singing songs, playing games, and teaching "real life" dialogues. Afterwards, the students practiced the dialogues at our areas of the "village" (we had a train station, travel agency, restaurant, and hospital). The full program usually ran for 3 hours.

Afternoon: I began my afternoons eating lunch with all the teachers in the cafeteria. Typically for lunch we had rice, kimchi, fish, and vegetables, although some days varied in cuisine (such as having dishes with a Chinese, Japanese, or Western flair). After that, I normally taught a few classes in the afternoon. I taught kindergarten and teachers' workshops. I also had a lot of spare time to lesson plan and socialize with my co-teachers.

Evening: The county office asked me to teach night classes to adults that live in the area. Tuesday and Thursday from 6:30 to 8 was when I usually held these classes. When I wasn't teaching, I spent my evenings relaxing at home and socializing with other teachers. Our town was small, so we only have 7 teachers including myself. However,the small size strengthened the bonds in our group.