Challenging, eye-opening, and changing. U.S. teacher training in Korea: Creating experiences that will enhance global perspectives

Kevin Oh, Natalie Nussli


This case study explored the short-term international experience of pre-service teachers to create and enhance global perspectives. These teachers (n=5), all female graduate students at a university in the U.S., were fully immersed in a foreign culture for three weeks while teaching English to primary and secondary students in Korea. Pre-, during-, and post-data were collected to investigate how the participants work and live while being completely immersed in a new culture. Eight themes emerged from the analysis of multiple qualitative instruments: (a) language barrier, (b) being the minority, (c) cultural differences and cultural shock, (d) student participation and teaching methods, (e) classroom management, (f) underestimation of English language learners, (g) finding confidence as a teacher and instructional flexibility, and (h) support systems. Overall, teachers expressed a transformation in both their teaching philosophy and cultural perspectives despite the short duration of the experience. They also reported that this linguistic and cultural immersion not only advanced their global perspective but also provided them with the necessary tools and understanding to work with diverse populations more emphatically and effectively. The findings suggest that additional teacher training is needed to increase pre-service teachers’ cultural competence and responsiveness to better address the needs of today’s diverse student populations.


immersion programs; multicultural education; diversity; cultural awareness; professional growth; teacher training

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ISSN 1527-9316