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Become Frank with English, And Words Just Come Out

Posted December. 18, 2003 23:20,   


“Draw the bodyline of English with your hands.”

“English just comes out of my mouth when I am in front of a mirror.”

KBS2’s entertainment show, “The First Class of Republic of Korea,” (Tuesday 11p.m.) is drawing people’s attention because it is revealing the secret tricks of “masters” of English. The show’s section, “Yes, I Can,” casts professional English teachers and translators of foreign movies and suggests learning English through play, thus breaking prejudices of English education.

Moon Dahn-yol, an English instructor who appeared on the show on November 25, said, “English has a different bodyline from our language,” and suggested the learner draw the bodyline with his own hands. He takes the phrase, “I have a problem,” as an example and asks the learners to feel the intonation and stress of English themselves while making a shape of a gourd bottle as follows: small bulge (I)→narrow neck (have a)→large bulge(pro-)→narrow neck(-blem). He also said that love was like a “box.” He prepared a box with the word “love” written on it and asked the panel to get inside of it to learn the phrase, “I’m in love with you.”

The first episode on November 4 was when Lee Geun-chul, also an English instructor, revealed his secret of English learning to be finding one’s own method of English study and suggested looking into a mirror for introverted people. He suggested they stand in front of a mirror, looking straight ahead into their eyes, and cry out a sentence related to a certain situation they imagine in their head. He also suggested other methods such as playing different kinds of drums while pronouncing a sentence such as “What do you want to read?” in order to familiarize oneself with the rhythms and expression of English.

Another English instructor, Lee Ji-young, said on December 2 that one should “get away from the burden that one has to speak perfect English” and to view oneself as a baby who was just born in the U.S. She revealed her secret of memorizing a set of words related to senses such as “sour”, “salty”, and “greasy”. Also, instructor Lee Bo-young on November 11 suggested memorizing phrases such as “Just get out of here!” and “I’ll come over to you,” taking examples from the popular comedy show, “Gag Concert.”

Many of the instructors have never been abroad and learned English in Korea, and are the so-called “domestic-learned.”

Min Byung-chul on November 18 told a story from his youth about how he made money teaching English to his friends with the recording material he did as a voice actor dubbing foreign movies when he was in university.

One of the reasons that this part of the show is gaining popularity is because many of the panelists, mainly popular actors and actresses, become frank when speaking in English. Movie actor, Jang Hyuk said on November 4 that he thought the song, “Kissing a Fool,” meant to kiss a person with a full lip. On November 18, Singer Vi spoke of an experience when he was misunderstood because he had wrongly pronounced the word “coke” as “cock.” One of the permanent panelists, Dr. Yoon Moo-bu, “a bird scholar” who is an ornithology professor at Kyunghee University, spoke of his difficulties in seminars with many foreign-national participants and tries to be bold in learning English on the show.

The program’s producer Lee Young-woo says, “the program aims to encourage English learners,” adding, “Next year, we will emphasize more how-to English to teach proper expressions for specific situations such as being at the airport or encountering a foreign tourist.”

Seung-Jae Lee sjda@donga.com