Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Spotlight: Cherrin Song

South Korea, a vibrant country defined by harmony of tradition and innovation, stands as a testament to the co-existence of the past, present, and future. The nation boasts a rich heritage while simultaneously embracing modernity. From the mesmerizing hues of traditional hanboks to the high-energy of K-pop, South Korea is a kaleidoscope of cultural wonders, where age-old rituals dance alongside the rhythms of contemporary life. Our Korean FLTA, Cherrin Song, also known as Cherry, embodies this fusion through her pursuits of cultural exploration and educational passion in new and innovative ways. Hailing from Seoul, South Korea, her linguistic journey began at a young age.

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Cherrin at the Russian Embassy in Seoul, invited due to her social media influence

Cherrin’s passion for language and language education began with an unexpected decision to study Russian in high school. As a student at a foreign language high school, she needed to choose a language to focus her studies on, and Russian’s unpopularity with the student body intrigued her to explore the unknown. She quickly fell in love with the language and the works of Russian poets. This infatuation steered her towards pursuing a major in Russian language and literature in University, and ultimately shaped her career path.

The pivotal moment in Cherrin's career trajectory came when she started her YouTube channel, Korean Teacher Cherish. She aimed her channel towards Russian-speaking audiences, providing a space where the deep connections between language and culture were explored. Her videos compared Russian and Korean cultures through language education and illuminated linguistic differences between the languages through fun activities like trying Russian foods. The channel's growth, gaining 500,000 subscribers, showed the demand for cross-cultural educational content, further motivating her to continue on this path. Expanding her horizons, Cherrin began teaching Korean to her audience and eventually monetized her expertise by organizing online courses. Through her channel, she connected with a student of Korean descent who was a native Russian speaker and opened a line of communication to more deeply explore one another’s perspectives and experiences. This collaboration helped Cherrin to tailor her courses specifically for Russian speakers, enriching the educational experience for her audience.

Well established in the realm of social media, Cherry had a desire to expand her audience and perfect her craft through more training and practice. When the opportunity arose to teach through the Fulbright program, she saw it as a chance to expand her educational platform and gain access to new teaching and learning perspectives. However, this leap also brought new obstacles as she navigated the restructuring of classes for English-speaking students, a realm she hadn't explored before, but a challenge she readily accepted.

Now at Notre Dame, Cherrin is working as a teaching assistant in Korean language classes in addition to providing tutoring services and organizing Korean cultural events for the South Bend community. Motivated to continue her online influence, Cherrin is also taking classes in digital literacy and language teaching methods. When she’s not busy with taking or teaching classes, Cherrin works to expand her linguistic repertoire and has begun to study Spanish, influenced by roommate and fellow Notre Dame FLTA in Quechua language, Dayana Velasquez. Cherry and Dayana now collaborate to make cross-cultural content on their TikTok accounts.

Cherrin was initially hesitant to become a teacher at the beginning of her journey. At first, she was nervous to be at the helm of the classroom, but confidence came with experience and pursuing further education and training. Now, she reflects on the comfort she feels when in the classroom and takes this as reassurance that this was indeed the path she was meant to walk. She finds herself constantly smiling as she helps her students, whether in the class, tutoring, office hours, or online. While she enjoys guiding her classes, she was quick to say that she approaches teaching with humility and is always willing and ready to learn from her students. Inspiration can come from anywhere, and curiously engaging with her students creates an effective and enjoyable learning environment.

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Cherrin visiting a school in Uzbekistan as part of her University studies

As a multilingual teacher actively working towards fluency in new languages, Cherry saw no shortage of benefits that come from learning a new language. She said that learning a new language is an incredible gateway to creating new friendships and learning new ways of making meaning of the world. Through language, we create bridges to maintain these connections. For her, learning English opened doors to new opportunities, making it possible for individuals to come together, interact, and build relationships they might not have otherwise had. Cherry said that mastering a new language is not just about words; it's about embracing a culture, understanding nuances, and ultimately creating meaningful relationships.




About the CSLC

The Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures (CSLC) aims to support language learners at ND by facilitating meaningful experiences with linguistic acquisition and exchange - both in our campus community and abroad. We believe that access to the world's languages and cultures allows us to seek out new perspectives, to value the diversity of the world's cultures, and to embody global citizenship.

Originally published by Luke Van de Walle at cslc.nd.edu on December 14, 2023.