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Best Ways to Learn English

In order to be part of globalization, Koreans are eager to learn English. In line with this, university students are going abroad to study English.
  The Dongguk Post contributions from two Canadian English teachers from Vancouver, a city where many Koreans study. The articles are very useful for those planning to study English abroad..........................................Ed

Pour Your Soul Into It

By Naieli Zabala
Congratulations! You have made the first important step towards learning English: you are going abroad. The bad news is that there is a lot of hard work ahead. Do not worry. Although learning a new language can be a frustrating and tiring process, it can also be fun and rewarding. If you plan your time well, setting and reaching goals, your speaking, listening, writing, and reading skills will grow. Following these suggestions will guarantee your success.
  First of all, learn about Canadian culture. If possible, live in a Canadian home-stay for a couple months. It is more expensive than living with roommates in an apartment, but your Canadian family will teach you about Canadian routines, customs and language, and they will also be a source of emotional support when you feel homesick and culture shock. However, be careful when you choose your home-stay! Ensure that the family speaks only English and has a good reputation with other international students. Then, when you decide to move out, do not have roommates that speak your native language. Practice English at home too.
  Second, take care of your health. Get a lot of sleep, eat well-balanced meals, and exercise. If you feel energetic and strong, you will be able to pay attention in all your classes and maximize the English that you learn at school. If you feel tired and weak, you will miss or be late for school, not be able to pay attention, and not learn to your potential.
  Third, be proactive. Keep a journal in English: record your daily thoughts, activities, and new vocabulary words or expressions: personal or impersonal. Read the newspaper or magazines that interest you: it will improve your reading skills and vocabulary. Listen to the radio: there are many talk radio and music stations that will keep you updated with local and international news and contemporary slang. Watch movies and television: not only could this be a social activity, but it is also excellent listening practice for “real” English. Look for and use free resources at the public library: libraries are a great place to study and have quality grammar books, cassettes/cds, and videos.
  Fourth, speak. Make friends at school that are from other countries: you will practice speaking English and learn about new and interesting cultures. Go out and meet Canadians: go to bars, join a sports team, volunteer for an organization, or take a non-academic class at a community centre (dance, cooking, art, etc.). The possibilities are endless! As soon as you are able to lose your anxiety of speaking with native speakers, you will become a confident and outgoing person. Remember that Canadians could be very friendly.
  Last but not least, get a tutor. A tutor could be expensive, but there are many university students that will charge as little as $10 an hour. When you meet with your tutor, be prepared: ask specific questions about grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, or anything that you are unsure about. Also, be courteous: meet them at a place that is convenient for you both and have cash ready to pay them.
  Hopefully, your experience in Canada will be a pleasant one. You will meet many people, do many things, and, of course, learn English. Just remember to stay focused, disciplined, positive, and healthy. Good luck!

  Writer is a teacher teaching foreign students English in Vancouver International College.

Expectation and Reality
By Harold Willis
  As a man who has privately tutored many Korean students over the last 7 years, I was asked to give my opinion on the efficacy and progress that Koreans make when they come to Vancouver to learn English.
  At first let me state that this is only my opinion and I may not know the whole picture. It would appear that many students attend schools to study TOEFL. The object being is to get a high score. Conversely there are a lot of Koreans who try to educate themselves by immersion into the Vancouver culture. The latter method of learning by osmosis through being around English speaking Canadians, is a complete failure.
  This is caused by the fact that a ghetto mentality has developed in Vancouver. Koreans stay with Koreans, Japanese with Japanese and Mexicans with Mexicans etc. There is an abundance of restaurants for all nationalities and it is possible for Korean students to feel they have never left home. The opportunity to practice English is not easy for them and many of the native English speakers, who ostensibly speak “English” do so in a variety of idioms and slang.
  I feel I can say that I have rarely observed a Korean go back home, sometimes after 1 or 2 years who has managed to master the language in a professional way. Most, at best achieve a tourist form of English.
  I have actually seen a few Korean students amass a vast vocabulary, but they then have a total inability to use it in a conversation. There are not many Koreans with such a large recognition of English words, but I feel that when they go home they will lose this vocabulary very quickly. “Language not used, is language forgotten.” It would seem that the main pre-occupation with Vancouver schools is to achieve a high TOEFL score, which I may add is written, not oral. How many achieve this? I do not know, but I would guess that is not too many. For me there is no substitute for one on one tutoring, where immediate correction for phonetics and grammatical errors can be addressed at the time of the mistake. It would seem that too many times Korean students practice written exercises at the expense of vocal conversations. This letter is not in any way a criticism of Koreans students, only an observation. I have the greatest regard and sympathy for them, because I know what they are up against.
  Immersion into the Canadian mosaic is not possible, if the object is to learn English, for indeed Vancouver is the most multi cultural city in the world, with every nationality settling here, and I may add, most speaking their own language for many, many years, before gradually using English.
  What the answer to the problem of Koreans receiving the best English education is, I must confess I don’t know. I am only suggesting that without private tutoring where the student gets a chance to converse with someone who truly understands the language, the results of their visit to Vancouver may be less rewarding then they expect.
  Writer is a private tutor teaching Koreans English in Vancouver.

Kim Hyo-shin  sunheeyou@dongguk.edu

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