Errands translate into language lessons at three-day English camp
Stars and Stripes August 11, 2006
CAMP CASEY, South Korea — Everyday errands like bank runs and post office visits sometimes take on a fresh point of view through foreign eyes.
Son Jun-ho, 11, a participant in the soldier-guided United Service Organizations’ three-day English camp for Dongducheon middle-school students, talked excitedly about his trip to the ATM near Community Bank and the Casey PX.
“Korean banks have touch pads, but this is different,” Son said. “This one has a button system.”
And speaking of banks, the English the students are devouring now could translate to higher-paying jobs in the future. It’s reasonably common in larger communities for parents to send South Korean children to private English lessons at a “hakwon” after they finish their daily studies.
Parents also are studying the language to get ahead. Spc. Daniel Butler teaches adults at night and volunteered to teach the middle-schoolers at the camp, which started Tuesday.
Some of the children are not as shy as many of the adults, Butler said, “so it makes it easier. They ask me more questions than I ask them.”
Their classroom instruction centered on several seemingly mundane situations, including American restaurants, doctor visits and the post office. The students also reviewed visits to the bank and library in class, then visited the two facilities on post on Wednesday.
The 16 soldiers and four Korean Augmentees to the U.S. Army — mostly from the 2nd Infantry Division’s Brigade Special Troops Battalion — and other volunteers said they were impressed by some of the students’ proficiency.
“They absorb a lot of what I’m saying,” said Madeleine Baker, an English teacher and military spouse who conducted Wednesday morning’s classroom session.
Several soldiers had no previous experience teaching and knew just a smattering of Korean.
“We’re still able to communicate,” said Spc. Christina Juengst. “Sometimes we draw each other pictures to help.”