This is my feedback letter outlining my impressions of my son, Ha-Joo Lee’s, progress in ODPC Korean School’s Hodori class.
First, I will go into a little background into why my husband and I decided to enroll Ha-Joo in Korean School this past school year. Before Ha-Joo was born, my husband and I decided that we would only speak to him in Korean at home. When Ha-Joo was three-years-old, he began attending a Christian preschool in our neighborhood three mornings a week. When he would come home, he would refuse to speak Korean and would only respond in English. Ha-Joo began to speak to his grandfather and grandmother in English too. Soon he began to forget the Korean words to ask his grandfather to play with him. He would ask me to ask his grandfather for simple requests. My husband and I grew concerned that soon he would lose all his knowledge of the Korean language. In addition, Ha-Joo is learning Spanish at preschool on a regular basis.
Since attending Korean School, Ha-Joo has been trying to speak more Korean. I believe that he has a greater awareness that he is a Korean boy and that he needs to know how to speak the language. Before attending Korean School, he knew that he was an Asian boy but he did not really understand what that meant. Attending Korean School regularly and doing his homework, he has a stronger sense of identity. Last week, when we were having a playdate with a preschool friend, Ha-Joo realized that his friend, Konraad, is not Korean and does not speak Korean. When Ha-Joo started Korean School he would tell me that he didn’t want to go to Korean School. He did not want to learn Korean. He would keep asking me why he had to learn Korean. Ha-Joo saw no value in learning Korean because no one spoke Korean at preschool, Sunday school and other programs. Now he wants to know why a good friend does not speak Korean. I think this is progress. Studying and speaking Korean is a new normal for Ha-Joo.
Ha-Joo has difficulty with the vowels. I am told by his preschool teacher that vowels are challenging for children his age. Due to his difficulty, he struggles with homework. Ha-Joo does not read Korean yet because he cannot put the consonant and vowel letters together in his head. He knows the letters but cannot put them together to form syllables. We manage to complete all the homework but it takes us all week and we usually have to give him candy treats to gain his cooperation. He complains when the homework requires writing the same word numerous times. He does not like to do repetitive exercises.
Ha-Joo also struggles with homework because he is one of the younger students in his class. While some of his classmates have been five-years-old since the fall, he will not turn five until next summer. Due to his age, he lacks the maturity to complete his homework without supervision. He also misbehaves in class when he is bored or tired. He is not as self-controlled as the older students.
Ha-Joo has told me that Korean School is difficult for him sometimes because he feels it is too long. He cannot sit still in one place for a long time. I know that at his preschool, their activities are broken into 35-minute segments. Ha-Joo is used to that schedule and has difficulty focusing for longer periods of time. Some of the other parents I have spoken to have shared the same concern for their sons in the Hodori class.
I believe that the teachers do a wonderful job with the Hodori class. There are 27 students and four teachers. This is a large class of young children to manage when teaching the foundation of a language. Teachers Park and Nam work so hard to communicate with all the parents. I believe that as a parent it is very important that I work with my son everyday to reinforce the lessons learned at Korean School on Saturdays. I need to be a good partner to the educator.
I can’t thank our teachers enough for all their hard work and for investing so much into my son. I am deeply grateful and thankful to God for such dedicated teachers.
Suzanne Lee(Ha-Joo Lee’s mom, 2009-2010)