중앙데일리

Korean courses that won’t break the budget

Mar 05,2007
Teacher Lee Sun-Jung jokes with students before class. This semester she has students from six different countries.
Many foreigners survive in South Korea without speaking Korean, aided by work environments where they speak their native language and a multitude of services for foreigners provided by the Korean government. There are a number of language programs currently running in Seoul that attempt to address this situation and highlight the importance of language in developing a greater understanding of Korea.
Nicolette Lorraway, a 22-year-old from Australia, has only been in Seoul for five weeks but already feels the need to familiarize herself with the language. “What kind of person goes to a foreign country hoping to work there without any knowledge of the language?” she asked.
Kevin Hou-Ming, 35, agrees. “If I speak Korean, it will be easier to live and easier to work,” he said, having recently moved from China to work for China Southern Airlines in Seoul.
For foreigners who are self-motivated to learn the language, the Korea Foundation Cultural Center offers free and comprehensive language classes, three times a week, with qualified Korean teachers. Four different skill levels are offered including pre-beginner Hangul classes where reading and writing are taught, basic conversation skills for beginners, intermediate and advanced classes, where the aim is native-like fluency.
Lee Sun-jung is pursuing a Ph.D. in Korean Education for Foreigners at Kyung Hee University and teaches the beginners’ class. She welcomes anyone into class, saying: “Anyone can learn. The key is, slowly, slowly.” Ms. Lee recalls teaching a 60-year-old lady who had taught English in Korea for over 20 years before she began learning Korean. She has also taught a Japanese girl how to communicate with her future Korean in-laws.
Personal motivation has its limits and Korean volunteers like 26-year-old Shin Sang-youn are on hand to provide one-on-one assistance and encouragement to students. He attributes the difficulty of learning Korean to its relative obscurity outside the country, something he experienced while studying abroad. “After my military service, I went and studied in Canada; the Canadian people were so kind to me and helped me out with my English,” he said, “I thought that if I ever came back to Korea I would like to do the same thing.”
Information about the Korean Cultural Center can be found at www.kfcenter.or.kr or by phone at 3789-5600, 5602-4. Other free Korean language programs include the Korean Study Room, which meets Saturdays from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Gal Wol Community Center near Sookmyung Women’s University. Call (011) 785-3931 or e-mail koreanlesson2004@yahoo.com for more information. Sookmyung Voluntary Student Group offers classes Saturdays from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Social Education Building at Sookmyung University. Call (02) 710-9623 for more information or show up on Saturday. Classes are held in rooms 105, 106 and 107.



By Sonya Gee Contributing Writer [sgee6454@usyd.edu.au]




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