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Link to Korea Times Article

2012-07-24 18:00

Super Junior, ‘Winter Sonata’ as new primers

By Jane Han

NEW YORK ― For learners of Korean in the U.S., it’s goodbye to rote
memorization and dull drills; hello to Super Junior and Bae Yong-joon. A
new curriculum is set to revamp the traditional teaching method of
Korean, a much-needed update aimed at giving the language a more fun and
practical appeal.

``It’s always been about grammar and vocabulary, just like the way
Korean students approach English,’’ said Lee Hyo-sang, associate
professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at
Indiana University.

``You can pile on all the grammar and vocabulary you want, but it’s
worthless if you can’t speak the language,’’ he said. ``What you know
about the language isn’t important. What you can do with the language

To help Korean learners do more, Lee and members of the American
Association of Teachers of Korean (AATK), a national group of Korean
language educators in the U.S., are working on a new curriculum that
moves away from textbooks and engages cultural elements instead.

``Many instructors have found existing textbooks to be very limited.
Those are bound to be more and more outdated, and lack in authenticity
and topical appeal for college students,’’ says Kim Hae-young, associate
professor in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Duke
University and President of AATK.

Currently, approximately 70 middle and high schools, and 93 colleges and universities in the U.S. offer Korean classes.

Experts say there has been a sharp rise in the number of students who
take Korean classes on US campuses largely driven by ``hallyu,’’ or the
Korean wave.

So then what better way to teach Korean than with Korean drama and music?

``K-pop and K-drama are primarily what drew these students to the
language, so it will be a more enjoyable and effective learning process
to integrate the elements they like,’’ says Lee.

For example, lyrics could be used to illustrate grammatical patterns and
functions. In Super Junior’s ``Beautiful Woman,’’ the lyrics show a
repetition of phrases, such as ``bolkka malkka’’ (should I look or not)
and ``bonchae manchae’’ (as if I saw it or not), which can make a
complex structure easier to understand.

At AATK’s recent annual conference at Stanford University, Susan Strauss
of Pennsylvania State University introduced comparison clips from the
popular drama ``Winter Sonata’’ and American hit series ``Dawson’s
Creek,’’ a lesson to guide students to explore similarities and
differences of melodramatic depiction of romantic love and jealousy in

``We’re not looking for replacement of old textbooks with newer
`textbooks,’’’ says Kim. ``Printed books are not suitable forms for
updating, revising and flexible adaptations, so different ways of making
developed materials need to be tried.’’

The new curriculum is expected to take at least two to three years for
completion. Once completed, it will become a national standard as
outlined by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, a
national advocacy group for language teachers.

For more information regarding this website and news posting, please contact aatk@aatk.org

American Association of Teachers of Korean, AATK

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