TEFL New Chapel Hill Texas

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It does not need to be argued that Korean culture and the culture of english-speaking countries are drastically different. Having origins entirely dissimilar has led to vastly differing attitudes regarding respect, self-expression, and responsibility, among many other things. However, in this modern day and age we are seeing the two cultures coming together more and more, and as a result, consciousness of the differences each culture ingrains is paramount. english is seeing explosive language growth across the globe—as a result of its increasing strength, hundreds of teachers are employed every year to teach english in Korea alone. When analyzed, we can see that differences in language arise from certain aspects of Korean culture, and is imperative that the english-speaking teacher is aware of how Koreans experience the world so they can understand certain learning problems. Because of the importance of english in a modern global economy, it is up to teachers to be aware of the cultural differences, and it is their responsibility to sensitive to the needs of their students, for the sake of their students and their success. Significant effects of cultural differences arise in even the most basic sentence structures. Sentences in Korean are constructed from 'phonemes,' a small unit of sound which makes one syllable. When learning english, then, Koreans may have trouble with english consonants and vowels, which are capable of creating many different—and sometimes highly unintuitive—sounds. Additionally, some sounds in the english language don't even exist in Korean (such as 'f' 'v' '?' 'ð ' and '?'), leading to some very common frustrations when students attempt to comprehend and reproduce those sounds themselves (Hellman). Much difficulty also arises when students attempt to produce english speech. Because Korean is a syllable-timed language, it doesn't have innate stress on words or syllables. When learning english, students frequently look at it through what they know about language, in this case, Korean. This results in speech which sounds very monotone to the native speaker, but to the student, they are speaking correctly. Thus it is important for english teachers to make sure students are aware of the rhythm and stress patterns of typical english sentences and give students plenty of time and opportunity to practice. Sentence structure is another point which should be noted by any english teacher. Korean students are used to a Subject-Object-Verb structure, so when asked to produce sentences in english, they must consciously convert their thoughts to the english Subject-Verb-Object, causing a pause in student response which might be misinterpreted by an uninformed teacher. Another complication is that modifiers (adjectives, adverbs) commonly come before their objects in Korean. This is also seen by entire relative clauses coming before the rest of the sentence, as it makes more sense to Koreans to provide the modifying information before the object, rather than modifying afterward (Cho 33). Here practice of the proper english structures is important so students get used to the way native speakers expect to hear the language, and thus improve communication. The most sensitive of cultural differences, however, come from teacher-student interaction. In english-speaking countries, there is little shame in not knowing an answer—students can simply say “I don't know,” and the teacher can move on. Yet in Korea, students are ashamed of not knowing the answer, as being called upon is seen as a chance to provide the class with their knowledge. So instead of admitting that they don't know the answer, students will look down, possibly studying their books fervently. However, this, to an english-speaking native, may be seen as disrespect, or perhaps simply that the student didn't hear the question, and so the teacher may repeat the question, further embarrassing the student as it becomes quite clear to the rest of the class that the student doesn't know the answer (Cho 35). Therefore, to avoid unnecessary embarrassment of both students and teachers, it is imperative that teachers are aware of the differences in Korean culture which lead to very reasonable mistakes and misunderstandings. Once the teacher is aware of these problems, he can address them appropriately, and take adequate measures to preempt their arising. A teacher who is sensitive to the needs of his students will be much more helpful and beneficial for the students' communicative success. Works Cited Cho, Byung-Eun. "Issues Concerning Korean Learners of english: english Education in Korea and Some Common Difficulties of Korean Students." The East Asian Learner 1.2 (2004): 31-36. Print. Hellman, Tony. "The Korean Learner of english: english-Korean Cross-Linguistic Challenges." Jumping the Asymptote. N.p., 9 Jan. 2009. Web. 25 July 2012. .