Summer is a chance for every student to keep on working, progress and evolve in many aspects of their life. Some are working to improve their skills (... and later their grades), some want to learn something new, some want to earn some money. As fall semester starts, many of the students will be different for having experienced new things in their lives. At the end of spring semester, I asked my students what they were going to do during summer. I was pleased to hear that many were planning to work on their french (whether it was taking private french class or attend private institute didn’t matter.) They were willing to do more in order to improve. I was amazed by their dedication, I had to do the same. Work hard, work out, be in top shape for September 1st.
But first, let me introduce myself. My name is Thomas Sagnard, I’ve been living in Korea for 3 years. I am currently teaching french at Sookmyung since last March. Eventhough, I am a qualifed language teacher, in France, I was a professional actor and comedian for 5 years prior coming to the land of Morning calm. And this background is quite helpful to the professor I am now, teaching french as a foreign language. Acting requires a huge sum of research on the part (the role) you are given. It is important to go in depth on your role in the play before starting to act in front of a live audience. I have been lucky to work on-stage and back-stage with many actors and directors who were not only great professionals but also beautiful human being. As a young actor then, I learned so much from their advice. Every day was a new learning experience and when it comes to my turn to direct actors, I made sure to share my experience and my opinions with other actors. I try to bring the same approach to my work now that I am teaching in Korea: to teach and keep on learning.
For teachers, summer is not only a time to chill out with friends and our loved ones, it is also a time for study, research and yes, learning. This summer, I came back to France for 5 weeks. And during that so-called “French Tour,” I had many times the opportunity to reflect/think on my work and on my role in the Sookmyung community. Every time I met with some family and friends, I had to answer the same questions "what do you do in your class?,” “how are your students?,” “do they like what you teach?” I always made sure to answer every questions as precisely as possible, as it it would help me realise that everything was not perfect, what I was doing good and what I could do better. This introspection is priceless. To share this experience with friends helped me to point out how I could improve my teaching skills and be better at my work. So I spent the summer searching and collecting documents, videos, books, songs, any material that could be helped my students to learn french. I attended every seminar and conference where I could meet other professors and share knowledge and point of view. I listened, I learned.
As an expert living in Korea, I find it very interesting to learn about Korea as much as I teach about France. It is not only the language that I teach, it is also the culture, the spirit, the flair and the french way of life. So why not make the most of my korean group of students by learning more about their life, their culture. For the last few months, I have learned more about Korea than I did in the first two years of my stay. I am very grateful to my friends, my colleagues and my students to have shared with me their knowledge, their experience and their feelings. This is an exchange between two different cultures, two different ways of thinking. Some of you, students, who
have experienced living in a foreign country and you might have learned from your daily experience abroad. You could testify on how rich we feel by talking about our own culture. As for me,it made me appreciate more my country, my roots. As we approached the end of summer vacations and the start of fall semester, I could not get more excited. For the first time since I was a child, I was happy to go back to class. School will start soon and I’ll be a “student” again. It never ends.