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Date of Award

Spring 2020


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Document Type

Thesis: EWU Only

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA) in English: Teaching English as a Second Language




This research project is the bi-literacy narrative and autoethnography of a novice English teacher working in hagwons in South Korea. In this autoethnography, she traces her growth as a teacher and her interest in applying Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) to educate young South Korean children ages 8-13. It is a collection of 13 written artifacts collected during the master’s program at Eastern Washington University as well as concurrent and retrospective journal entries documenting her experiences in South Korea and three sample lessons she designed in her curriculum seminar and on lessons co-created by her and her thesis chair and internship supervisor. Through this bi-literacy narrative and autoethnographic study, the author traces her path to becoming an ESL Teacher and a citizen of the world. This autoethnographic writing documents the author’s two-year experiences teaching English in Gwangju, South Korea. The author explores the history and meaning of hagwons and how those for-profit schools affect the daily life of South Korean students and of the foreign teachers who teach them. Chapter 1 includes examples of autoethnography, narrative inquiry, and culturally responsive teaching, as well as the author’s background, which qualified her for employment in South Korea. Chapter 2 is a literature review about (1) the history of teaching English in South Korea, particularly in hagwons, (2) teacher identity, and (3) autoethnography. The author suggests that test-taking often results in a culture of competitiveness and insecurity among young students. Chapter 3 is a literacy narrative and an autoethnography that describes how the author's early experiences drove her to a career in teaching. Chapter 4 is a collection of written artifacts that commemorates her experiences working at two different hagwons and her two years of graduate studies in the United States. Chapter 5 discusses the assumptions and research questions, as stated in Chapter 1 of this thesis. Chapter 6 includes the final reflections and conclusion.