Seoul, South Korea & education and English learning

Living in Seoul, Korea by Paul Symonds - Page 18

Is the article and ‘s’ for plurals really necessary?

It never does any harm to ask but the answer is simply yes, they are necessary and native English speakers will always notice if you miss these things. If you start missing these items out, people may be distracted from other parts of your conversation. Saying ‘My In Seoul, Korea palacefriend are fun’ or ‘I bought table today’, sound quite strange in English. In Korean there is no ‘article’ and this is why it is very difficult to use in English. Similarly, there is no single/plural similar to in English, in Korean.

Learning a language is never easy and I am learning Italian but find it confusing that every item is classified as being either male or female. A chair in Italian is ‘una sedia’ and because of the ‘una’ it is feminine. Why every item must be male or female I cannot understand.

My co-work enjoys listening to classic music!

When Koreans commonly talk about their co-work, they are of course referring to their co-worker/s and when the word classic is used, it in fact means ‘classical’ in English. The words classic and classical are misused even in large music stores in Korea, with a section in the shop often called the ‘Classic section’. In English, classic music is generally considered to be music such as ‘The Beatles’, ‘Hendrix’ and other very popular artists from the last thirty to forty years. ’Classical music’ on the other hand, in English refers to music such as Bach, Beethoven, and Vivaldi.

Speaking English abroad

Even when you have learnt English or any other language, it is still difficult to use when you are abroad sometimes. One recent situation that happened to one of my Korean students occurred when she visited London, England. On needing to ask for directions in London and having heard that policemen in England were friendly, she decided to approach a policeman. The first policeman she saw was one on horseback, so she walked over and tapped him on the leg. As the policeman turned around, she suddenly felt embarrassed with her English ability and said to the policeman “Can I help you” rather than asking for help.

I have probably made the same kind of mistakes when trying, with my limited vocabulary, to communicate with Koreans in Korean. Intonation and punctuation can also make a difference. One of my favourite expressions, which can be changed with punctuation in English, is the following expression. (Notice how the question mark and exclamation mark completely change the meanings).

Private! No swimming allowed.
changed to
Private? No! Swimming allowed.

English is now becoming more and more important in Korea, as Korea tries to compete globally. In an attempt to compete with other countries (and also with each other), Korean people seem to be spending more and more time, and more and more money, studying English. When times are hard, people seem to study even more and they seek to further improve their skills, in order to get further ahead. The amount of money spent on English institutes in Korea, is staggering. In fact, a recent report stated that Koreans spend more on private education per capita, than anyone else in the world.

If you have any thoughts, would like to publish this book, or any general comments or questions about this book 'Living in Korea' then email me now.

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