What inspired you to start AEA?
In 2004 I moved to Icheon City, South Korea to teach English to elementary and middle school students. I lived in Korea for 8 months and worked at 2 different schools. While there I learned first-hand what a large market there was for overseas language programs in western countries for these students. Previous to working in Korea I had lived in and explored Alaska. During this time I had seen the Northern Lights, viewed Denali several times, and even caught a salmon on the Yukon River via subsistence salmon fishing. When I returned to the States from Korea I began imagining my students fishing on the Yukon like I had and then knew I had to start this business. I could offer these students practical skill acquisition through ESL education and immersion along with one in a million adventures that only could be experienced in Alaska.
What do you hope to achieve through AEA and what is your vision?
I hope to achieve two primary things through AEA. First, we are forging a new path in tourism in Alaska as AEA is the only language immersion tour company in the state. Knowing this, I plan on AEA starting a new wave in tourism that will provide opportunities for people from foreign lands to experience outdoor adventure like no where else on Earth. Combined with modern and cutting edge English teaching techniques and curriculum, AEA will create unique opportunities for ESL learning that won’t be found anywhere else. I also plan on AEA being an international agent for understanding between people from different countries and cultures around the world. Very special conversations can happen and new friendships can blossom when sitting around a campfire after a day of hiking or whitewater rafting in Denali National Park.
My vision for AEA is to start small with selling seats for our summer 2021 tours and then growing into more tours throughout the year. This growth will include Northern Lights tours in winter, Iditarod tours in March, and more tours throughout the state in summer. I also plan on creating English Adventure Camps at lodges at different locations throughout the state. Here students will stay at and attend classes at the lodge and then venture to surrounding areas for adventure activities.
If someone were to give a review of AEA, what do you hope they would say?
That was the most amazing experience of my life!
I learned so much! I fell head over heals in love with my life while in Alaska! I gained so much English experience from the amazing adventures I went on! Denali National Park is SO BEAUTIFUL! I am so excited, I actually found gold while gold panning in Fairbanks! I’m so thankful I actually got to see a grizzly bear, caribou, and moose for the first time in my life! This was always a life dream or me!
The people with AEA were so amazing! I made so many new friends that I know I will keep in touch with for years to come. Catching my salmon was SO FUN in Seward! I had never been ocean kayaking before and after my adventure in Seward, I know I will be doing that again!
I loved the teaching format so much! The morning lesson worked so well with the afternoon activity and then the evening meeting. I had English FRENZY to the maximum!
There is no doubt that I will be bringing myself and many friends on an AEA adventure next year!
How does the environment of Alaska foster unique opportunities for language learning and conversation practice?
English is the most commonly used language in Alaska in written and spoken formats. All road, business, recreation, and National Park signage is in English. When interacting with people at grocery stores, in lodges, on fishing boats, at airports, in restaurants, and at campgrounds it will be in English. Alaska is a very geographically and culturally diverse place. Students with AEA will experience their English language learning in rugged mountain and ocean landscapes while participating in adventure activities that can only be found in the Last Great Frontier.
How would you describe your teaching/ leadership style?
I have always believed that first-hand hands-on experience is the best teacher. I use this in my direct teaching methods during class time and in how I have designed AEA on the whole, down to the finest details. Students will have multiple opportunities to learn and perfect their English skills while on our tours and the new friends and new adventures that these lessons will be taught with will create vivid memories for each student to remember each lesson.
If you had to give one good reason why an English language learner should choose to participate in AEA over other immersion programs, what would you say?
Denali National Park
Chena Hot Springs Resort
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
Camping in old rustic cabins
Learning to shoot a gun
Help train Iditarod sled dog pups
Alaska Native people, culture, arts and crafts
Ocean cruising on a catamaran
Daily English classes