Meet Speak! Korean Teacher, Insoo Ma
Insoo teaches all levels of Korean at Speak!, primarily individual and custom courses, and we are thrilled to have him on our Korean faculty. Here, he shares answers to a few questions posed by Speak!’s Director, Christina Ball.
What brought you to Charlottesville and how does life here compare to life in your home town. What do you like, and what do you miss?
I am from South Korea and came to Charlottesville in 2006 to provide my family with better educational opportunities. Charlottesville seemed like the perfect place for us to live. I have been here for about 10 years and it has been a great experience, which is full of adjectives: rewarding, frustrating, educational, exciting and sometimes boring. I think about my family and friends in Korea all the time and miss them every single day.
What are some curious or interesting facts you can share about the Korean language? How does it compare to other Asian languages?
Do you know who invented the Korean alphabet, which is known as Hangeul? Hanguel is the only language created with intention by King Sejong in the Chosun dynasty of Korea. Even though Korean may look like Chinese or Japanese to the untrained eye, it is actually much easier, because the characters are a combination of just 24 letters. So, if you spend 3-4 hours learning them, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to read Korean. The Korean language is very phonetic and scientific.
What are some methods you’ve found to be effective with beginners? How do you teach more advanced students?
Learning a foreign language is quite difficult, but it is also exciting. From my experience as a teacher, one of the most effective ways of teaching Korean is to ask my students about their interests or hobbies. They really enjoy learning Korean when they know some interesting words or expressions relating to their hobbies. For more advanced students, I provide more cultural and historical background during our lessons.
As teachers, we often learn so much from our students! Can you share something that perhaps you’ve learned from being a teacher?
Understanding students is the first thing I have to do as a teacher. So every time I have a new student, I try to find out their learning style and attitude, then I use appropriate teaching methods to teach them. In fact, I think teaching is just another version of the learning process.
What do you enjoy most about teaching Korean language and culture?
Even though I majored in accounting in college, teaching has been my passion and I have happily noticed that the popularity of Korean language and culture is growing in many countries including, of course, the United States. Teaching language is about helping someone learn about another culture. I think of myself as a cultural bridge, connecting countries.
Do you have any language learning dreams or goals? If you could learn one of the other 11 languages that we teach at Speak!, which would you choose, and why?
I am very interested in Spanish. The Hispanic population in the USA, particularly in the south, is rapidly increasing. Given this changing geographical and linguistic map in the U.S., speaking Spanish offers a good combination of increased social skills and business opportunities.
Have a question about our Korean program at Speak!?
Contact us with any questions, to set up a conversation with Insoo or another Korean teacher, or to find out how to register.