Monday, January 18, 2016

TESOL Certification

When I'm looking for teaching jobs in Korea, I can ask my price as long as it's within reason, and I know what I'm worth to prospective employers. I also know that a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) makes me more valuable, and thus able to ask a higher salary. Thus, while I was in Korea, I used the abundance of down time during exams week to get certified.

The process of gaining certification also made me a better teacher, helping me in classroom management and in engaging the students.

Here are my certificate, transcript, and letter of recommendation from ICAL:

The Most Useful Thing

When I went away to college, going to college was the only goal. My father had been drafted during his senior year of high school and my mother had graduated 8th grade then gone to work to help to feed her family. They had remained behind in Germany when she'd married my father. Half of them were behind the Iron Curtain, mysterious shadows that really had nothing to do with my life other than knowing that my mother had left part of herself behind to come here. The half that had fled to the free West were nearly as mysterious, since at that time the Atlantic was still a barrier not nearly as easily crossed as it is now.

On this side of the Atlantic, in the family that was flesh and blood to me, my sister was the first ever to graduate from high school. She went briefly to art school in Pittsburgh, then joined the Army. Eventually she'd follow her art. But when I, six years behind her, crossed the stage at Berlin Brothersvalley High School and took my diploma in hand, there was another trail I had to blaze for my family. I had to graduate from college.

In those four years I took a lot of classes, from a bland public speaking class at which I excelled easily to an integral calculus class that I plugged away at until I was working problems aloud in my sleep. And it was in that integral calculus class that I learned the single must useful thing I learned in four years at Penn State.

Dr. Wells had a simple grading rule for exams. If you chose the right approach to the problem, you got a 50% score on that problem even if everything else you did was wrong. She had this grading rule, she told us, so that we would grasp fully that choosing the right approach was half of solving the problem.

I took that principle far past mathematics. It was the principle I used when I helped Doris to achieve the goals she had flailed at fruitlessly for ten years. It is, I think, the principle that makes me most useful and productive wherever I put my energies. And that's what I'm doing with this blog: looking for the right approach. It will bring me half way to the solution of how to put my capabilities and drive to the best possible use.

And here, almost as a post-script, are the diploma and transcript that I carried away in my hands. They've opened doors for me. But what I carried away in my head -- Dr. Wells' lesson about choosing the right approach -- is what I value most

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Letter of Recommendation: ICAL

To Whom It May Concern:

Christina E. Dunigan completed the ICAL TEFL/TESOL Certificate in September 2013. This certification course is 120 hours. The work involved all aspects of Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language including needs analysis, syllabus design, lesson planning, classroom management, strategies in language learning, teaching methods, testing & error correction etc.

I worked with Christina as her personal tutor and during her time with ICAL I was able to make a good assessment of her capabilities and progress through her work on the assignments.

Christina  came to this course already with some years' teaching experience and was working in Korea while studying for her ICAL Certificate. Her enthusiasm for teaching and genuine concern for her students were apparent throughout. In addition to doing coursework and assignments, she sometimes contacted me to discuss her own work situation. I was very impressed by the determination with which she dealt with initial problems in her current job, and the creativity she showed in devising  materials and activities to engage young learners who were initially poorly motivated and difficult to involve in classes.

Christina sets herself high standards and obviously put a considerable amount of time and care to her assignments. She approached the course with an open mind and showed herself eager to learn about new ideas and incorporate them into her teaching. She designed some beautiful visual materials and demonstrated a good understanding of all aspects of the course. Her lesson planning showed that she has a good awareness of student needs and interests, and is a good classroom manager. Christina also responded well to tutor feedback and always acted on the suggestions made.

On the bases of the quality of her work and my discussions with her, I feel she is an able and highly motivated teacher and that she would make a welcome addition to any school.

Jennie Hardacre

Letter of Recommendation: Dale Perkins, Nam Incheon SLP

Dale C. Perkins

August 31, 2005

Dear Sir or Madam:

I had the pleasure of working with Christina Dunigan at Sogang University Language Program's Nam Incheon academy for nearly two years. She was a valuable member of our team. The most valuable traits Christina brought to Nam Incheon SLP academy were:

  • Professionalism. Christina always gave full attention and effort to planning, teaching, and the inevitable paperwork that is a part of teaching.
  • Creativity. Christina was an excellent source of ideas for activities and materials for teaching. She knows many inventive games, and can quickly produce professional-quality flash cards, worksheets, and other classroom materials.
  • Teamwork. Christina was always willing to help other teachers, who would frequently go to her for advice and ideas, or to borrow her materials.
  • Rapport. Christina's students would rush in to greet her when they arrived every day. Even students who didn't attend her classes got to know her, and gathered around her when they got the chance.
  • Resourcefulness. Christina could readily adapt materials for a variety of activities tailored to the specific abilities and needs of her classes.

Christina is a credit to the teaching profession, and a valuable team member wherever she goes. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.


Dale Perkins
(Former) English Teacher
Sogang University Language Program, Nam Incheon Academy

Letter of Recommendation: David Condie, Nam Incheon SLP

To whom it may concern:

This is to certify that I have taught ESL with Christina Dunigan for a period of one year. During that tiem I have found her to be hard-working and enthusiastic. She has made many resources to enrich her teaching environment. She has worked as a team member and contributed to the overall success of the school. She has also maintained excellent records regarding her students.

Your Sincerely,

David Condie

Letter of Recommendation: Chris Park, Nam Incheon SLP

Chris Park
Director of Education
Sogang Language Program
Nam Incheon Academy
Incheon, South Korea

Dear Sir or Mada:

This is a letter of reference for Christina Dunigan, who worked as an ESL teacher at our school for a total of 23 months, between April 2003 and September of 2005.

Ms. Dunigan has proved to be a dedicated and very effective English teacher. She taught children between the ages of 4 and 14 on a full-time basis. Her duties included lesson planning, educational material development, assessment, and assisting in training new teachers, in addition to teaching. Ms. Dunigan has been a reliable and valuable member of our team.

Some of her specific accomplishment included:

  • creating numerous educational materials (worksheets, flash cards, etc.)
  • conducting an annual Halloween "haunted house"
  • helping students with speech tournaments
  • organizing shared teaching materials

Ms. Dunigan's enthusiasm and sense of humor made her class enjoyable, while her creativity and skill helped her students to make substantial progress in learning English. She volunteered to work overtime, teaching supplemental classes. She was always eager to help other teachers with ideas for activities and lessons.

Ms. Dunigan established a strong rapport with her students. The children love to interact with her both in and out of the classroom. She always made the effort not only to make learning fun for them, but also to give the students a rich cultural experience.

If you have any questions about Ms. Dunigan, please contact me here at the school.


Chris Park
Director of Education
SLP - Nam Incheon

Letter of Recommendation: Jinsik Lee, Seokrim Middle School

Jinshik, Lee
Seosan Seokrim Middle School
Seokrim Dong
Seosan, Chungnam, Korea
February 10, 2015


I highly recommend Christina as a Foreign Language Teaching Assistant or science teacher. I have worked as co-worker at Seokrim Middle School in Soesan. When she taught our students, I felt her devotion and passion to understand English and America culture.

She prepared the P.P.T. files for every lecture. If some students can't understand her lecture, she tries to make them understand. For example she taught food around the world in our textbook, she showed her gesture and onomatopoetic words. The students could imagine how to make the foods and how they taste.

Especially after she had taught the second grade students during winter vacation they said she was not only intelligent and friendly but had a strong sense of responsibility because she taught science to students and made them participate eagerly in all of experiments. She contributed new ideas to our students to speak English more fluently and understand America culture.

Working with Christina was a great joy as well as useful in many ways.


Jinsik, Lee

Letter of Reference: Hyang Bohk "Iris" Choi, Seokrim Middle School

Name: Hyang Bohk Choi
Mailing address at school: Seokrim Mile School, 8 Dong Seo, 2nd Street, Seosan City, Chungnam Province, South Korea
Phone number at school: (82) 041-667-8126

Date: February 12, 2015

To Whom it May Concern:

I had the pleasure of working in three capacities with Ms. Christina Dunigan at Seosan Seokrim Middle School during the Korean 2014-2015 school year, which runs from March to February.

I was Ms. Dunigan's official liaison with government offices and with general issues related to life in Korea. s. Dunigan used y assistance courteously, promptly, and appropriately, and maintained excellent communication.

Ms. Dunigan was required to teach English camps during school breaks, and coordinated her classes with me. Her lessons were inventive and well-tailored to the needs and interests of these selected groups of students Her last winter camp was particularly successful. Because the students expressed an interest in science rather than English, Ms. Dunigan found exciting activities that she could do with them, including experiments in atmospheric pressure, fluid dynamics, and static electricity. The student were delighted, and on the last day they lingered long after class was over, not wanting the experience to come to an end.

My primary role with Ms. Dunigan was ans one of her four co-teachers. Ms. Dunigan adapted her classroom style and lesson content according to my personality and preferences, and we quickly established a very comfortable report and an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust in the classroom.

Every week, Ms. Dunigan would face 23 different classes of between 23 and 37 students. The nearly 800 students she taught ranged from children who couldn't even count to ten to children whose English was fluent because they had lived for many years in English-speaking countries. In any given class, skill levels typically covered around 25% of that range. Ms. Dunigan devoted passion and persistence into developing games and group activities which were creative and engaging, and which allowed all students to participate fully to the best of their abilities.

I was very sorry when Ms. Dunigan told me that she would be returning to the United States. However, she has taken great care to prepare for the transition to the new teacher and I am certain that Seokrim Middle School will continue to benefit from her tenure here.


Choi Hyong Bohk

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Problem Solving: "Doris" and the Intractable Goals

"Doris" had been in mental health residential rehabilitation programs for over ten years, and had still made no progress toward her goals of taking her morning medication independently and attending all of her appointments. As I reviewed her files, I noticed that the same methods had been tried, year after year.

I thought about what kind of person Doris was and developed methods based on her specific strengths. Doris had mild developmental disabilities and had resided in a program for that disability prior to being transferred to a mental health program. She was highly motivated by point systems and enjoyed getting marks showing success in small tasks. She also followed routines regularly and once she had established a habit, she stuck with it.

Morning Medications

To help her to develop the habit of taking her medication independently in the morning, I decided to take Doris through manageable steps.

For the first month, whenever Doris took her evening medications she would put the following day's date on an empty medication envelope. At morning medication time, she would show the empty envelope to staff and get a star on her chart. Doris never missed a day.

For the second month, when Doris took her evening medication she put her morning medication in an envelope and marked it with the following day's date. Every morning she produced the correct envelope and took her medication while staff watched, then got a star on her chart.

For the third and final month, Doris would take the medication before medication time and show staff the empty envelope, for which, again, she would get a star.

After those three months, Doris would take her morning medication independently.

Attending Appointments

Attending appointments was quite a challenge for Doris because of the number of professionals that she saw. She had to keep both regular and special appointments with a psychiatrist, psychiatric nurse, cardiologist, gynecologist, ophthalmologist, and podiatrist.

Doris enjoyed the attention she got when attending appointments and was highly motivated to attend. I asked her a simple question: "Do they give you appointment cards when they make appointments for you?"

Doris answered, "Sure do!" She opened the top drawer of her dresser. It was full of old appointment cards.

I asked her if she wrote her appointments down on her calendar. She said, "Sure do!" and showed me her calendar. Therein I found the problem: If Doris had an appointment on a particular date, she would simply write the date in the square. Thus, if Doris had an appointment on June 6, she would wake up in the morning and see "June 6" written in the June 6 square. She would know that she had an appointment and make an educated guess about the time and place.

I gave Doris a simple instruction. Whenever she made an appointment she was to copy the entire appointment card onto her calendar. She dutifully followed through. Okay, instead of "Podiatrist -- 3:15 p.m." she would write "Anyplace Podiatric Services, 123 Any Street, Anytown, USA 12345, (123) 456-7890, Doris Smith has an appointment to see Dr. Smith at 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday, June 6, 1996." It didn't matter. Doris never missed another appointment. Her problem was solved in less than ten minutes.