[KS] failed Koreanists littering the streets
JayatAKS49 at netscape.net
Wed Apr 16 13:11:50 EDT 2003
I know many people have read this thread with great interest; I
certainly have, and I'm moved to mention a couple of points, since I've
got little else to do until dinner.
An IUC in Korea would be a miracle, indeed. It might better succeed in
the short-term if we attached it to an existing program, say at Yonsei
or Kodae, or better yet, at the wonderful institution I'm visiting at
the moment -- the Academy of Korean Studies, which is just now in
spectacular bloom: azalea, forsythia, cherry, and magnolia. I hasten to
add that my proposal of the AKS is entirely my own; my colleagues and
friends here would probably find the prospect of an IUC in their midst
to be some particular sort of nightmare and be appalled. Nevertheless,
existing institutions already have a certain necessary infrastructure in
place. The unhealthy aspect is, of course, absorption of an IUC into
some existing program, and we don't want that.
But my real point is the focus of John's proposed agitation. In my
experience with the Korea Foundation, I have never found anyone willing
to say "no" to a good proposal except for financial reasons. Of course
that may be an easy way to say "no" without saying "no", but I suspect
not. Candour and sympathy both run deep in the KF. But the money is
controlled by the Legislature, and the KF and the KRF have often been
kicked around as political footballs, sometimes with disasterous
consequences. After all, who are their consitutency -- academics, most
of whom are foreign? I know the politicians are a vague target, but I
do believe that's where the pressure must be applied, although I don't
Duncan, John wrote:
>A couple of things come to mind.
>One, perhaps we academic Koreanists should start making efforts to identify
>and recruit some of the DLI "linguists". I'm not sure what the climate is
>like in the military today, but perhaps we can convince some of the
>non-career military that there can be a rewarding future in pursuing Korean
>and Korean studies.
>Two, a couple of years back I broached the idea of an IUC in Korea with a
>representative of the Korean Foundation. The response I got was a not
>unsympathetic "saenggak haebol munjeda." I regret to say that with all the
>fish I was trying to fry, I did not follow through. As we all know, the KF
>has both limited resources and a long-term strategic plan that, while
>initially investing heavily in North America, now calls for developing
>Korean studies in other parts of the world.
>It is clear to me that an IUC for Korea will remain nothing but a pipedream
>without some coordinated planning and agitation on our part. I've still got
>way too many fish in the frypan, but I think this is an important issue and
>am willing to devote what time and resources I can muster.
>From: jrpking at interchange.ubc.ca
>To: koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
>Sent: 4/15/2003 2:56 PM
>Subject: Re: [KS] failed Koreanists littering the streets
>Thanks very much to John Duncan for his comments. I would like to add a
>few more remarks in reply.
>>First, the Defense Language Institute used to produce something in the
>range of 70-80 graduates per year. ...very few (and I mean very, very few)
>of them ever acquire more than a rudimentary knowledge ... Admittedly,
>what I witnessed was in the late 60s and early 70s, ...makes me believe
>that little has changed over the past 20-30 years. ...At any rate, I think
>it is safe to say that the U.S. military has been a great failure in
>terms of producing significant numbers of U.S. citizens who are
>competent in Korea[n].
>First, I hope I didn't give the impression that I somehow thought the US
>military was doing a bang-up job of KFL education and that they were
>some sort of model for all of us. But the DLI and its experience, as
>well as the statistics they produce, can be quite telling. And in fact,
>I think things HAVE changed a lot since John Duncan's observations. So,
>while I, too, am not in possession of detailed statistics, I can relate
>at least the following. Way back in 1991 at a conference in Moscow
>hosted by the Korean Society of Bilingualism, the then-head of the
>Korean Language School at the DLI, with justifiable pride, announced
>that his school had recently graduated its 13,000-th 'Korean linguist'
>(as they're called). That's 13,000 soldiers with a 2+ in two of the four
>skills (I forget which two: listening and reading?) on the 1-to-5
>proficiency scale, where a "3" is 'ability to use the target language in
>a work environment'. Language salary bonuses kick in with that "2+." To
>reach this "2+", those 13,000 soldiers had between 2200-2500 hours of
>classroom instruction. It must be over 20,000 now.
>Since then, the Korean Language School at the DLI (or so I am told) has
>grown rapidly to become the largest school - the Director of the Korean
>Language School regularly shows up at AATK conferences practically
>begging Korean graduate students to apply for teaching jobs on staff -
>they can't hire enough teachers to keep up with the demand. So at least
>that one particular corner of the USA is investing in Korean language
>education, but it doesn't really help us civilians much in our work.
>The point here: if (tens of!) thousands of 'America's finest', after
>2200+ hours of classroom contact in what, arguably, are pretty good
>facilities with pretty good teachers(?), can still barely speak Korean
>when they get to Korea, and are hopeless with more 'academic' or
>'intellectual'/research-oriented forms of Korean, what does that tell us
>about the chances of training students over a 4-year undergraduate
>curriculum with at most 150 hours per academic year? Another point for
>comparison: I have encountered some graduates of Yonsei's KFL program
>who, though linguistically gifted and otherwise intellectually topnotch,
>are still far from being able to -say-- read Korean short fiction in the
>original, let alone handle academic articles and dissertations. Or
>understand the KBS 9 o'clock news. This is not a slam of Yonsei (though
>I could do that elsewhere) - it reminds us of the magnitude of the
>investment needed to get up to DLI level 4, for example.
>>Second, as difficult as Korean admittedly is, it is no more difficult
>>Japanese. ... If Japanese can be mastered, why not Korean?
>Sure, in theory, and John Duncan makes a number of good points here. The
>reasons Korean ends up being so 'difficult' in practice have less to do
>with inherent linguistic/structural features (though I would contend
>most of these outweigh Japanese...) than with characteristics of classroom
>demography, teacher training, textbooks, native speaker language
>ideologies, etc. Many of these are things that people on this list can
>do something about - but not without concomitant long-term and
>aggressive investments from governments or whoever!
>>It can be done, given the motivation, the support and, perhaps most
>importantly for academic purposes, the kind of quality language training
>programs that are offered in Japanese and Chinese at such places as the
>IUC in Yokohama and the center at National Taiwan University. Such
>programs still do not exist in Korea, despite the efforts of such
>schools as Yonsei, Koryo, Sogang, and SNU. Perhaps it is time to
>establish something like the IUC in Korea.
>Here John Duncan has preempted something that was on the tip of my
>tongue last posting. I confess I do not yet know much about the finances
>and organization of the Chinese and Japanese 'Inter-university Centers'
>(other than that my own UBC used to belong to the Chinese one but was
>too cheap to pay the annual fees so dropped out!), but I am convinced
>now that NONE of the Korean university programs like those mentioned
>above will ever truly serve the needs of North American university
>students in general, or of the more 'academically/scholarly'-inclined
>specialists, in particular. Maybe it IS time to start talking about an
>IUC for Korean in Korea?
>Associate Professor of Korean, University of British Columbia
>Dean, Korean Language Village, Concordia Language Villages
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