Language Exchange with the Korean Student Association Club

Contributor Skye Soo

Courtesy of Fresno State Korean Student Association

The Korean Student Association Club (KSA) offers free language lessons for both Korean and non-Korean students. The basic idea is that Korean students teach non-Korean students some phrases and words in a casual and informal setting. By having non-Korean students talk to Korean students, they are simultaneously allowing Korean students to practice their English and speaking skills. It’s a very effortless process because both types of students are learning new words while conversing informally in between. “I wanted people to see that learning a language can be fun and a great way to connect to other people both globally and in our community,” KSA’s president, Alyssa Farris, explained.

The method of learning varies between students, but I was lucky enough to have one of the Korean students teach me some phrases in the form of songs! That was when I really learned what ‘getting out of your comfort zone’ meant! Everyone was really supportive of each other, so it wasn’t as awkward as you probably imagine it to be. At the end of the day, everyone in my little group gained more confidence in speaking Korean… and how to be better singers! What surprised me the most was how much information I remembered weeks after that. It’s safe to say that singing is a foolproof and effective way of learning a new language.

“After watching a Korean TV show, I fell in love with the culture and language,” Alyssa said of her passion and enthusiasm for learning Korean. “At first I was planning on only studying a few phrases and greetings but the more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. I met so many amazing people and that is what has kept me learning and wanting to learn more.”

These lessons are usually held on Fridays. In my opinion, that’s a wonderful way to kick back and relax after a long week of homework, studying and whatnot. Not only do you get to meet and befriend a really diverse group of people, but you also get to have fun and learn a few new words (that you could probably boast about at the dinner table!). You don’t need prior knowledge of the Korean language to be able to join in on these fun informal lessons! Bring your awesome self and a whole lot of determination because you’ll be working hard and playing hard! Did I already mention that you can have zero experience and still not get lost in the midst of “annyeonghaseyo” and “jal isseoyo”? How incredible is that?!

And who knows if you find yourself in Korea one day for a vacation or a business trip? You won’t have to worry about getting lost or offending a local because you already have a basic idea of simple greetings and proper etiquette. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel that learning a new language helps me to relax. “Relax?!” you say. Well, sure, it does require some effort to comprehend and grasp what you’re learning, but it can be a great way to let your brain take a break from the usual humdrum of scientific facts, mathematical problems, anatomical research, or whatever it is that you’re learning in class.

When I asked Alyssa what her hopes were for the program, she said, “I hope that it can continue to be a place where students have fun learning English and Korean in a social setting.” Success breeds success, so I believe that the experience will help you develop a strong drive and gain inspiration from the language exchange that is built on a solid foundation of inspired and motivated members.