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Oct 31, 2008

Thirty Korean Teachers Begin Study of English, American Culture

Korean teachers continue American education
Six-month program organized by Eleutian Technology

Tribune News Editor

Thirty elementary-school teachers from Incheon, Korea, continue to take classes through Northwest College to learn about the American school system and improve their English-speaking skills.

The teachers arrived in early September for the six-month program, organized by Eleutian Technologies LLC and coordinated through the college.

They spend most mornings at the Northwest College Workforce Training Center in Cody and most afternoons at the campus in Powell.

Because they have enjoyed learning about American culture, the teachers plan to return the favor on Friday, Oct. 24, by presenting an evening of entertainment featuring Korean music and dancing, as well as demonstrations of Korean calligraphy. The event takes place at 7 p.m. in the Nelson Performing Arts Center Auditorium.

Eleutian, based in Ten Sleep, began about two years ago by hiring people to teach English to students in Korea over a live, high-speed Internet connection through a program called SpeakENG. The company since has expanded to employ teachers throughout the Big Horn Basin and now is beginning operations in the Sheridan area as well, according to Mike Moore, Eleutian director of teacher operations.

In addition, a new branch of the company, Eleutian Korea, began operating out of Korea six months ago, and the government in Incheon began working with the company to provide English instruction at an international school based there.

Over the past several years, Moore said, the city of Incheon has sent teachers to Canada to improve their English-speaking skills.

"They've been wanting a change," he said. "They weren't happy with the program over there."

Because of the Korean city's affiliation with Eleutian, Park County was among four locations Incheon school and city officials chose visit while looking for a change. The other three sites were Vancouver and Toronto, Canada, and Chicago.

"We spent a week with them in July, showing them the schools, showing them the things and fun activities we can do here," Moore said. "We took them on a float trip."

One of the officials was Mrs. Geon, who is the special assistant to the mayor of Incheon, Moore said.

"By the time she left, she had filled out an application for her and her daughter to attend Northwest College," he said. "Through her and others, they chose to come here."

Geon brought her two younger children as well, entering her younger daughter at Powell High School and her son at Westside Elementary.

Moore said the teachers are enjoying their experience here, though it's hard for those mothers who had to leave their children behind for six months.

The teachers' instruction includes an American field studies class, which so far has included trips to Yellowstone National Park, horseback riding and a trip last weekend to Bozeman, where the teachers saw their first American football game.

The trip to Bozeman came after a classroom discussion about the game of football and how it's played. This week, the teachers planned to write about what they saw and their impressions of the football game.

Moore said Eleutian has grown in ways that could never have been imagined when it started.

Moore and his wife, Amy, taught English in Korea for two years before coming to Powell to work with Eleutian.

"We certainly never planned to have teachers come here to start with," he said. "When we decided to do this project here, it was just a given that we use Northwest College and have them partner with us in providing the education piece. It is mutually beneficial to both sides.

"We get the expertise of the college and the education side, and on their side, they get more of an international student base, which is beneficial for them."

Moore said Eleutian officials plan to begin offering English instruction services in Japan soon, and has expanded to employ teachers the Sheridan area.

"Obviously, we want to develop a relationship with Sheridan College as well," he said. "The thing we want people in this area to know is that we are just expanding. We are not leaving here, and we will continue to work in the Basin."