Halloween Inspires SUNY Canton Professor’s Culture and Literacy Lessons


A SUNY Canton professor’s research has taken a dark path while creating a lesson about creativity and cultural awareness around a spooky holiday.

Eunjyu Yu, who teaches English at the college, recently published the chapter “Writing Culturally: Flash of Halloween!” in the book “New Ways in Teaching with Creative Writing” published by TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Press.

Eunjyu Yu holding a pumpkin.

Yu, who is an immigrant and a non-native English speaker, draws upon her own experiences with American culture to provide a basis for others to learn.

“Being a non-American, Halloween was the most shocking holiday for me,” she said. “We don’t really have a comparable holiday in South Korea.”

She explained while there is a traditional Korean holiday to revere ancestors, scary costumes, trick-or-treating and other traditions seemed astonishing, even a bit startling. Now, having lived in the United States for about 20 years, she’s overcome her culture shock.

Her chapter includes a lesson plan designed to help students develop specific language and create a flash fiction story situated within a Halloween setting. Flash fiction is a brief written work that utilizes traditional elements including character development and plot. Yu wrote her own piece to include within the lesson plan as an example, which incorporated richly illustrative imagery and costumed children on their quest for candy.

“It is essential to understand the host culture while acquiring a new language,” Yu said. “The knowledge of cultural context often expedites the language learning process.”

The book serves as a lesson plan for educators who are teaching advanced English as a second language courses. Yu’s goal is to inspire teachers to enhance both English language learners’ and native speakers’ cultural sensitivity as well as advance their creative writing skills. 

As one of SUNY Canton’s most prolific researchers, her latest publication ties in with her previous published studies emphasizing a culturally inclusive approach to maximize student outcomes. 

Yu doesn’t currently own a Halloween costume, but has considered dressing up as a pink butterfly to represent transformation. “Even though Halloween was so strange to me the first time I saw it, I’ve come to enjoy and appreciate the differences in culture,” she said.


About SUNY Canton

Discover SUNY Canton, where innovation meets opportunity. The college’s career-focused educational programs emphasize hands-on and applied learning opportunities in digital design, engineering technology, health, information technology, management, public service, and veterinary technology. Faculty members bring real-world experience and exceptional academic expertise to the classroom. As a leader in online education, SUNY Canton offers unmatched flexibility with hundreds of courses and 23 comprehensive degree programs offered completely online. The SUNY Canton Kangaroos compete at the NCAA Division III level and will be transitioning to the SUNYAC in Fall 2024. In addition to its 15 traditional teams, SUNY Canton offers coed varsity esports and cheerleading.