Like many expatriates, Steve has been in Korea more than once. He first came as a U.S. solider, and then he returned as a civilian teacher of English. The text below is an interview done in the late 1990s. I’ve added a response by one of my students, a Korean who was assigned to the American military.
When I got on the plane for Seoul, I was excited because I figured I’d studied Korean for an entire year so I’d be able to speak with Koreans. I got off the airplane at Kimpo, and someone started speaking rapidly … Read More
Gabriel is quick, witty, and always full of good stories. Aside from his connection with the military environment, his experience of culture shock is similar to those civilians have. This interview took place around 1995.
When I first joined the army, the recruiters told me that if I qualified for the Army linguists’ program I would be offered a selection of languages. I did very well on the Defense Language Aptitude Battery, which tests your ability to learn a foreign language. They told me, “When you get to the language school, you just tell them what language you … Read More
From 1966 to 2006, except for the three years I tried to be a studio potter, I taught foreign languages—either German to Americans or English to Chinese and Koreans. During that time there was one student whose language proficiency was a really remarkable achievement. By the time I met Byoung-ok, he’d made himself bilingual and bicultural. I thought at first that he’d gone to elementary and middle school in the United States–his polite and deferential manner made an American high school seem unlikely. He told me he’d spent only four or five weeks in an English-speaking country. He majored in … Read More