In Seoul’s Sinchon district, Colin talks with Michael Elliott, creator of the English-learning site for Koreans English in Korean and the Korean-learning site for English-speakers Korean Champ. They discuss why Koreans insist on the difficulty of their own language; whether and why he considers Korean difficult; what it means that “there are so many different ways to say the same thing” in Korean; the perennial issue of saying “you” in Korean; the “native speaker’s privilege” to go a little but out of grammatical bounds; why the Korean alphabet has displaced Chinese characters more or less entirely; why Koreans rarely acknowledge the language itself as a driver of interest in Korea; the different, more intense ways trends manifest themselves in Korea than in America; whether we can call English education in Korea a “craze,” and why Koreans spend so much money on it to so little apparent result; the degree of parental involvement in English education and how “keeping up with the Joneses” drives it; the trouble with studying the languages of “poor countries” in Korea; the dominance of “the right way and the wrong way” in Korean thought; what it takes to make it to the highest level of Korean study, and why that sets off suspicion in Korean people; how tired he’s grown of explaining to those “back home” why he went to Korea to study Korean in the first place; how he got an exemption not just from Korean trends but from American hipsterdom, or indeed any kind of “team”; how he came up with his new Korean Champ videos shot on the streets of Seoul; what would happen to the Cheonggyecheon Stream if built in America; how he studied multiple levels of Korean at once; the importance of observation when learning languages, and the general resistance to it; the “little bit of a scoff” with which Koreans sometimes correct Korean-learners; and the sleep he loses on the rare occasion he says something incorrectly in Korean.
- And Notebook on Cities and Culture’s next destination is…
- Los Angeles, the City in Cinema: Speed (Jan de Bont, 1994)
- Presenting the Notebook on Cities and Culture Guide to Japan
- Notebook on Cities and Culture’s complete Korea Tour
- Notebook on Cities and Culture’s Korea Tour: Opting for Korea with Brother Anthony