Airmen to teach English through USO

  • Published
  • By 2nd Kim Schaerdel
  • 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
This spring Osan will start a new program to help improve English language skills in Korean children by allowing them to spend time with Airmen in their school classrooms. 

Units on base will adopt a school and Airmen will have the chance to teach two Saturday classes per month for an entire semester using a program created by the United Services Organization. 

The USO's Virtues Development Program was started in spring 2003 as a program for servicemembers to teach English to Korean children through direct interaction. Now part of the United States Forces Korea Good Neighbor Program, the Virtues program has a secondary aim of strengthening the existing good relations between the U.S. military and Korean communities. 

The Virtues program consists of a curriculum designed to help people wanting to learn English as a second language and requires no special teaching skills. The program includes all teaching material necessary to conduct the classes. Teaching classes on Saturdays is expected to take about half of day including time to travel to and from the schools. 

The schools are located in the Songtan and Pyeongtaek area and current plans call for transportation to be provided for Airmen participating in this program. Groups of two to three Airmen would teach the same lesson to two classes. The USO will train volunteers on the curriculum for the semester. The students will range from third to fifth graders for elementary schools and seventh and eight graders for middle schools. The class sizes will be approximately 30 students. 

The USO Virtues Development program, "promotes consistent, sustainable interaction with the school through a sense of commitment and responsibility. Hence, in spite of personnel turnover (at Osan), the school enjoys a long-term relationship/activities with their 'parent' military unit," said Elizabeth Pyon, Good Neighbor Program coordinator for USFK. 

When it began in 2003, only two schools joined the program with 36 Soldiers from the 8th Army volunteering to teach. As the years passed, the popularity among servicemembers grew, as well as enthusiasm among local schools. After only three years, 85 schools now participate with 922 Soldiers volunteering. Since the program's inception, servicemembers have taught more than 19,500 Korean children. 

Schools in the Republic of Korea are currently on winter break but will resume classes in mid-March. This program will allow Team Osan to meet and interact with some of its young Korean neighbors and develop a relationship that will positively impact the future generation of Korea.