Learn and Teach in Ulsan(LATU) is a program that Ulsan University offers to native English speakers. The purpose of this program is to tutor English to university-level Korean students. The university dedicates themselves to offering English programs for the Korean students. I have talked to other Korean students who did not get a LATU position and they explained to me how upset they were. The LATU is a huge competition among the Korean students. They have to take a TOIEC (Test of English for International Communication) and participate in intensive interviewing process. There desire to speak English fluently is mind-blowing. The study hours on end, pay enormous amounts of tution fees for studying abroad in English speaking countries, and desperately try to make conversation with English speakers. After getting to know a several Koreans who commit to learning English for multiple years, I feel very blessed that English is my first language.
During our orientation when they were explaining our job duties, it seemed to good to be true. You have two groups of 4 students with all different levels of English skills and are required to teach 8 hours a week plus 2 hours of Global Lounge Activity hours. Those two hours you just have to simply sit in the Global Lounge, which is where all the the tutoring classes take place and any Korean student can come up and ask you questions about their homework or sit and have a conversation.This
This picture here is taken in the Global Lounge Center with my first group. These are where 80% of your tutoring sessions will take place. Once a month you get the chance to engage in an outdoor activity. With my second group they wanted to take me to a traditional Korean restraunt. They always warn me how spicy the food is and are shocked when I can eat kimichi. Every time I eat with Koreans they are so worried that I will not be able to handle their food. I just laugh because I really enjoy spicy food! Below is a picture of my second group and I at the Korean restraunt.
Below is what kimchi looks like. It is a pickled cabbage that is served with every single meal. My Korean friends told me that kimichi is typically too spicy for foriegners, but I find it tasty!
Anyways, LATU is a self-rewarding and easy job where you recieve free insurance, free room and board, and 900,000KRW stipend each month which is equivalent to 800USD. Talk about an awesome job! By being LATU tutor and studying abroad, I am saving and making money while being in Korea.
Moreover, I enjoy teaching in the global lounge because it has comfortable coaches and tables making the study environment enjoyable. It is filled with different materials to teach your students including: newspaper articles, various books, white boards, and even interactive games. The way you want to teach your class is entirely up to you. No one tells you how you should or shouldn’t teach your class. However, I did ask for some advice of previous LATU tutors and they said to just ask the students what they want to learn. Most of the students do not want you to teach them grammar or proper English so to speak, because they receive all of this in the classroom. They truly want to improve their speaking skills and know how to communicate with English speakers in a normal conversation. So typically I just sit and have a conversation with them and they normally have multiple questions regarding our culture and language. You would be surprised at some of the things they ask you. They want to know how to use slang correctly and are curious to what some curse words mean. In my last class, they were asking me why people say “Oh my god!” and what it means. If you think about it, they are not going to be taught this kind of “English slang” in the classroom. They are strictly taught proper English. Interacting with someone who is a native speaker and the same age as them really benefits them.
I have gotten to know my students on a personal level and loved every minute. I know which one is the leader and outgoing whereas I can tell who is shy and timid to speak English. Koreans are incredibly nervous to practice their English with natives. You will constantly hear them say “I am sooooo sorry my English not good!!” I banned that phrase with both of my groups because I believe confidence is the key. If they are confident and not afraid to make a mistake then their English will improve. I notice if I correct them, they are constantly apologizing. I think this just has to do with their culture. I am a native speaker and even make mistakes! Although, I have met some Koreans who are confident and are fearless to speak the language, which is kind of a breath of fresh air.
Overall, LATU is a great program that really helps not only Korean students, but the tutors as well. They look up to you and are always willing to help. If you need help with Korean language, they are more than happy to teach you. If you need help booking train tickets, they will take your computer and book them for you. If you ask them to lunch, they ask where and when, sometimes will even pay for you (which I do not like!) I would recommend this program to anyone that is interested! It is a great experience for you to embrace a different culture and to learn a lot about yourself!