This moving and eloquently-written Korean-language essay was written by Dr. Geun Soon Kim Lee, one of the founders and heads of The Korean Language Center of New York and The Korean Heritage School for Adoptees. The essay, which is written in Korean, is titled "한국어와 나 (The Korean Language and I)," and will be featured in a forthcoming edited book that RCKC has been working on about individuals who have worked hard to promote the Korean language and Korean-language education in the United States.

Dr. Geun Soon Kim Lee has a long history with Korean language education. She received a BA in Library Sciences at Yonsei University in Seoul, where she went on to become a lecturer in the Korean Language Institute. She earned a doctorate (Litt. D) in Library Sciences from Ankara University in Turkey in 1975. In 1978, with her husband, Dr. Sungun Lee (who is another extremely important figure in Korean language education), she started teaching Korean in the United States. In 1984, she became Principal of the New York Broadway Korean School, which has since changed its name to the Manhattan Korean School, where she highlighted the importance of conversational Korean. While she was the Principal, the school became very well-known for its outstanding faculty and emphasis on teaching methods and pedagogy. She and her husband, Dr. Sungun Lee, are the founders and heads of The Korean Language Center of New York and The Korean Heritage School for Adoptees. Additionally, she is President of the Northeast Chapter of the National Association for Korean Schools, Vice President of the National Association for Korean Schools, and is a former instructor of East Asian Studies at New York University.

Below is a short excerpt from her essay:

새 학기를 시작하는 첫날 7명의 학생들이 둘러 앉아 인사를 나누며 자기 소개를 한다. 이 교육원은 뉴욕 맨해튼 32 Korea Town에 있다. 한국어를 처음 배우는 학생들이어서 아래의 대화는 물론 영어로 오고 간 말이다. “제임스 씨는 왜 한국어를 배우려고 해요?” 키가 아주 크고 머리가 노란 30대의 백인 남성이 “ 저는 미국사람인데 제 약혼녀가 한국사람이에요. 한 달 후에 결혼식을 해요. 약혼녀의 부모님이 한국에서 오시는데 영어를 못 하세요. 그래서 제가 한국어를 배워서 대화를 하려고 합니다.” 자기는 회사원이라고 한다. 또 다른 여학생에게 “아끼 씨는 왜 한국말을 배워요?” 라고 하니까, 자기는 일본인 작가이며 한국친구도 많고 한국 드라마를 아주 좋아한단다.

 

Published in Qualitative Data

We have posted a Korean-language essay by Dr. Sun Gun Lee, the Director of the Korean Language Center of New York (which is affiliated with the Korean Culture Research, Inc.). He is also the Executive Director of the Korean Language Association, and the former President of the National Association for Korean Schools, Northeast Chapter. He received his B.A. and M.A. in Korean literature at Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea, and he received his Ph.D. in linguistics from Ankara University in Turkey in 1973.

After he came to the United States in 1975, Dr. Lee has worked tirelessly to teach the Korean language to U.S.-born Korean Americans and to non-Korean Americans. In particular, he has taught Korean language and customs to many Korean adoptees and U.S.-born Korean adults who have faced discrimination from fellow Koreans because of their lack of mother-tongue fluency. He has been able to do this with little monetary compensation for nearly forty years because of his strong love and affinity towards the Korean language. Among his many contributions to Korean language education, he has worked hard to promote the Korean language in American high schools and has participated in making Korean textbooks. In 2004, he also established the Korean Heritage School of Adoptees. As the name of the school suggests, it focuses on expanding Korean language and cultural education for young Korean adoptees. In this essay, Dr. Lee describes these experiences as a Korean language teacher in great detail.

Below is a short excerpt from Dr. Sun Gun Lee's essay:

"한국어반이 개설되고 3년 후, 두 학교로부터 한국어반이 성공적으로 운영되고 있다는 기쁜 소식을 전해 들었다. 첫 학기에 26명이었던 팰리사이드 파크 고등학교의 한국어반 수강생은 2년 후 115명으로 증가하였고, 릿지필드 메모리얼 고등학교의 한국어반 수강생은 첫 학기 36명에서 2년 후 80명으로 늘어났고 초등학교 4,5학년 전 학생 240명도 1주일에 한 시간씩 한국어 수업을 받고 있었다. 이는 기적과 같은 놀라운 발전이었다. 동포들의 도움으로 한국어정규과목채택 추진회가 후원금을 모금하고, 한국정부에서도 지원금을 보내준 결과, 우리 한인 2세들뿐만 아니라 미국 학생들도 한국어를 배울 수 있게 된 것이다." 

Published in Qualitative Data

 

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