Tuesday, September 25, 2007

#1. Introduction

Language has always fascinated me. I think this is mostly due to the fact that I speak two languages, Korean and English. People ask me which of the two I'm more comfortable with, and I reply, "Konglish." I need both languages to express everything that I'm feeling. Sometimes, even these two aren't enough. I need more words. I took French in high school, but I'm not that good at it. I plan to continue it here at Stanford, but I'm probably going to take it next quarter, as the classes this quarter is enough for me. Anyway, French will probably add to my vocabulary and allow me to express myself further and more precisely.
I think language does shape the person who speaks it. Especially for me, Konglish is sort of a metaphor for who I am. I'm not a 100% Korean, nor a 100% American. I'm a mixture of both. I've lived half my life in one country and half in the other. Both cultures have influenced me and shaped who I am, and language has been a part of that influence. Speaking two languages itself has defined me, but also what languages I speak, how I use them, and what they add to my knowledge has made me the person I am. For example, in Korea, being fluent in English is a big advantage in school and in society. Parents in Korea spend so much money on their children's English education. Companies hire people with high TOEFL or TOEIC scores. I made easy money tutoring middle school students solely because I was good at English. Foreigners from English-speaking countries pour into Korea because they can earn big bucks by just teaching their language. They don't even have to know Korean. Korean parents like the native speakers best.
The English craze in Korea has made me think a lot about how important English is, and how that is influencing Korean; whether Korean is slowly disappearing, what with kids learning English from the very early ages (some mothers listen to English educational tapes while they're pregnant); whether English will soon become the official international language; why Koreans seem to be more crazy about English than its neighboring countries like Japan and China.
I wrote much more than I first intended :p, but I guess this is why I enrolled in PSYCH 17N and why I'm interested in language and its influence. I hope I can learn a lot from this class and also share my thoughts. :)

And finally... Countries I've Visited! (not that many... hope to visit more)

create your own visited country map
or check our Venice travel guide
EDIT: I just noticed that the right side of this map doesn't show... FYI, Korea is in East Asia! And I've also been to Mongolia, which also doesn't show up on the map.