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

As Northern New York's premier college for career-driven bachelor's degrees, associate degrees and professional certificate programs, SUNY Canton delivers quality hands-on programs in engineering technology, management, and healthcare fields. It is home to the Center for Criminal Justice, Intelligence and Cybersecurity. Faculty members are noted for their professional real-world experience in addition to outstanding academic credentials. As SUNY's leader in online education, SUNY Canton OnLine offers hundreds of flexible and convenient courses as well as 23 online degree programs. The SUNY Canton Kangaroos 15 traditional athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division III level as part of the North Atlantic Conference. SUNY Canton also features varsity esports and cheerleading.