News: Soldiers use conversational skills to help students
CAMP CASEY, South Korea – Students from Shinhan University received certificates of completion for completing the 1st Armored Brigade Combat, 2nd Infantry Division, Introduction to English Program on Camp Casey, South Korea, July 9.
The three-month program is part of the 1ABCT Cultural with Language Education Program, which allows local students the opportunity to speak conversational English from native speakers. The program is designed to help students learn about the American culture.
The three-person instruction teams included two American Soldiers and a Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army Soldier. There were some cultural barriers to overcome, but the Soldiers felt the best way to keep students engaged was by sticking with topics that were familiar to them.
“When we dealt with areas that were of high interest to them, things like music, movies and fashion, we got a lot more interaction from them,” said Warrant Officer Stan Eding, security manager for 1ABCT, and also a volunteer instructor for the course.
Eding noted the students had a high interest in learning, but often times were shy about their English skills. This was where the KATUSA member of the team was able to use his skills.
“When we first started, most of the class was scared to talk because they wanted to speak correctly,” said Cpl. Suhmoon Won, a chaplain’s assistant for Headquarters and Headquarters Company. “I had to assure them that it doesn’t matter if they make mistakes. I am here for them, and to help them speak [better English.]”
This kind of learning from native speakers allowed for a different type of development than the traditional way to learn a language.
“Basically, we’re giving them an introduction to conversational English,” said Capt. John Conner Stewart, staff intelligence officer for 1ABCT, and a volunteer instructor. “Just like any other language that you learn in school, learning out of a book can make you have knowledge of the language, but it’s not the same until you learn from the people who grew up speaking the language.”
The students worked with the instructors to develop their English skills, but three months is a very short time to learn language.
“It will be helpful for the students to continue with this program,” said Hyun Ju Chun, director of the Department of International Languages at Shinhan University. “If they continue, they can improve their English.”
The opportunity to learn about one another’s culture was also a major advantage of the program. American instructors learned a great deal about how words have different meanings in Korean than they do in English, and how to find and use creative ways to instruct students.
Some students found it difficult to interact with the different culture at first.
“This was my first time using a translator to interact with foreigners,” said Yum Hee Kim, a nursing student at Shinhan University. “The period to learn was short, but I do have more confidence speaking English now.”
“Programs like the CLEP continue to strengthen the bond and friendship between the United States and the Republic of Korea,” said Col. Matthew L. Eichburg, commander of 1ABCT, while talking to the students. “So while you’re learning English, I can guarantee you we’re learning as much, if not more, about Korea as you are about English.”