Hello! My name is Wesberlyne Avril, and I just graduated with my Consecutive Bachelor of Education. Because my concentration at Queen's was French as a second language, my alternative practicum had to be related to French in some way. I had a hard time finding a placement on my own, but ended up going with one of Queen’s’ university partners, Kongju University. It was an amazing three-week experience.
Going to a new country can be daunting, especially going alone and not knowing anyone there. I was grateful that Kongju University created a fellowship for one of their master's students. I didn’t feel alone because she was with me when I traveled to the different schools, and she also helped me make connections with other students. At the end of the trip, she became a friend and we still keep in touch.
Over the three weeks, I gained experience working at two high schools and at Kongju University. On Mondays, I went to Sejong Global High School, where I assisted the English department by observing classes and doing activities with the students. I was also able to help four students planning to apply to Canadian universities by explaining the application process for both universities and study permits. On my last day, I gave a lecture to around 100 first-year students where I shared my school trajectory, why I went to Korea, and general encouragement. There was also a Q&A session after this lecture. I was surprised that all the first-year students wanted to hear about my experiences, and overwhelmed with the welcome at the school. The staff and students made my experience at Sejong very fruitful and helped me learn more about the school culture.
On Tuesdays I went to Daejon Foreign Language High School where I assisted the French department at the school. It was amazing how many language departments there were at the school, and I was so grateful to have been able to attend one class of each language throughout the 3 weeks. The languages were Korean, French, English, Spanish, German, Chinese, and Japanese. Each student had English as a required subject and an added language major. While assisting the French department, I taught culture lessons on Haiti and Canada in French. I also did activities with students where they practiced how to get to know someone using French questions. Going to that school made me remember how much I love learning languages, and it also encouraged me to keep learning.
On Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays I was at Kongju University with the French department. I taught French culture (Haiti and Canada) classes in a few classes, as well as a phonetics class. At the university, many of the students were in different levels with their French and many understood more than they spoke. While teaching there, I needed to change between French, English, and Korean at times in order to facilitate understanding. I was able to get a glimpse of what teaching French at a Korean university could be. The university organized 'free talking' sessions where students would come practice French with me. It was amazing to see the interest that students had in learning French and how much they loved the language.
My trip coincided with the week of Francophonie where the world celebrates countries around the world that speak French. One of the professors at the university invited me to go to a French School in Seoul where I shared about my Haitian-Canadian culture. It was a great opportunity to exchange knowledge and ideas with staff and students alike.
The great thing about going to South Korea in March was that this was the beginning of the school year for the students - so this was a new experience for everyone. While in South Korea, I was grateful to have gotten to meet everyone who came together to create my placement. I learned about a different culture and the education system. I now know what teaching French in South Korea would be like and I want to do it even more.
If you’re hesitating about going abroad, just do it! You have nothing to lose as it’s a way to experience a possible future with no long-term commitment. I highly recommend Kongju University and would do the experience all over again!