Jung Chul

Oh Jung Chul. Those pesky articles are so unnecessary. But as you say in the link, speaking English is surprisingly simple---so simple you are simply incapable of doing it correctly. (from http://www.kdaily.com/news/newsView.php?id=20080401017001)

The man with the euphonious name, Jung Chul (정철), is a famous English teacher in Korea, and apparently the answer to the question of why Koreans so often say “take a rest” instead of “take a break”; this fellow is doubtless the source of all kinds of amusing, embarrassing, and unnecessary linguistic foibles particular to the biggest little country in the world, and while it is unlikely that any of his students will read or understand this message, it’s a man’s duty to combat lies wherever they may be found.

It may seem like a little thing to people living outside of Korea, but when you see how regularly the English language is perverted and abused in this place, Jung Chul and his lucrative ignorance simply fit into the larger whole—here we have a nation so completely obsessed with a language that no one can spend a few extra won learning how to speak it from qualified, experienced native teachers, simply because a slippery worm like Jung Chul is just plain easier on the eyes.

But he is not the root of the problem; his smoothness, his dyed hair, his slick microphone, are merely symptoms of a far more insidious wriggling—this culture believes so thoroughly that a mere semblance of learning is good enough that the notion of a greater and truer form of knowledge has probably not occurred to most of the people here, distracted as they are with the flashiness of a worm who is also somehow a parrot.

You want to know why Koreans can’t English? You want to know why people need to take a rest after going to the supermarket to buy dress? Ask Jung Chul. It might have something to do with because of the party tomorrow.

Furthermore, I know there are many foreigners here who are probably curious as to why Koreans sometimes speak such an odd, awkward, and idiosyncratic form of English, so that’s another reason for writing this pointless post; evidently Jung Chul learned to speak god’s language from watching American movies, and a cursory search of his material on Google Video reveals that his teaching method is typically Korean; i.e, “if you can repeat, you understand”, which is obviously why so many unfortunate Koreans who have been repeating for so long just don’t understand.

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5 thoughts on “Jung Chul

  1. Gid says:

    “Dyed-hair” is incorrect use of a hyphen. Does that mean you can’t write English?

    It can’t be such a bad thing if his lessons are free and accessible. People have to start learning somewhere. in the sample of his text you give the only blatantly wrong part is that he doesn’t provide an article or relative pronoun for dress. The clause starting “because…” is poor usage and technically incorrect, but if one used it in spoken English it would not be unacceptable. I don’t see how one goes from saying that his program needs some improvement to saying that it’s a mere “semblance of learning”. If his students can’t go to school for English, they now know some slightly incorrect conversational English, which is still more than none. Correct me if I’m wrong, but based on what you said here, I imagine your ideal language school consisting of tests evaluating students’ understanding of Chaucer or something equally highbrow and irrelevant. I’ve known immigrants who as adults improved their English by watching Sesame Street. (While admittedly that particular TV show has better grammar than Mr. Chul, it’s still silly and focused on repetition.) These individuals often write English better than college graduates who grew up speaking it (present company excluded).

    What are your definitions? What would be a better, “truer knowledge”? What do you envision as an ideal form of English teaching and how would you make it as accessible and appealing as Mr. Chul’s? Why is it uniquely Korean to want to learn something through available rather than pay and spend time learning something by means that are less so? That sounds like a characteristic of everyone I’ve ever met. I think you’re just being pessimistic.

  2. hiddenconnections says:

    Damn hyphens! Correction appended!

    We all make mistakes. But the difference is that I’m not making enormous amounts of money by tricking people into buying my mistakes. His lessons are absolutely not free at all; I may do a follow-up on this if I can get a Korean who’s been duped into paying for his stuff to show me the real meat on his website.

    And I didn’t even care that the “because” wasn’t technically correct, it’s just that in Korean there are at least two common ways I know of to say because—and the rabbit hole, in this regard, is very deep; as there are apparently six or seven hundred ways to conjugate every Korean verb and adjective (which are both almost identical in this language) there could be more ways to say “because” that I don’t even know of.

    Point being, there is no explanation given for why they chose to translate because in that particular way (때문에; I usually use 왜냐하면, which goes in a different part of the sentence); there is apparently no theory, no grammar, no reason, of any kind given for why things are the way they are, or even what words are what. This means that people who shell out their money to this guy wind up parroting the language if they learn to speak it at all; as for an understanding of what words mean, and why they are where they are, and how they can be changed or moved around, this knowledge, my so-called “true” knowledge, which I think every native or good speaker of English possesses either consciously or not—this knowledge is completely sidestepped in favor of just looking like you know what you’re doing. Their knowledge is just for show.

    There are videos I found of children reading Barack Obama’s inauguration speech; it is obvious that all of them have been coached to simply read what is written without any understanding of what is actually there. I can do the same in Korean; does that mean I can comprehend a speech by I Myung-bak with perfect fidelity? I don’t think so. If I have to do a cold reading of Korean aloud to an audience I’m usually so focused on just getting the sounds right that I can only even begin to figure out what the hell I just said after I’ve finished saying it. But perhaps that’s just a personal foible; perhaps you really can learn a language to fluency just by watching movies, and possess all the knowledge you need to pass that information on to elementary school students.

    I’m not talking about obsessing over tiny grammatical details; I just mean the bare minimum. Something as basic as saying that in English, every sentence must have a subject, an object, and a verb (at least if you’re beginning to learn how to make simple sentences), is not taught to them at least in elementary school, as far as I know, though they begin studying the language twice a week in the third grade.

    This information is rather important as such things are not necessary to making a sentence in Korean (so much more is simply implied, at least on a conversational level; you can say “can English” in Korean and there’s no problem, but if you want to say that in English you have to add in a lot more, you can’t just translate it literally (obviously).

    But if no one tells you, how are you ever supposed to figure that out? I spent a year listening to this goddamn language nine hours a day every day and I got nowhere. You need so much to effectively teach someone a foreign language (grammar, vocabulary, practice!), and Jung Chul just doesn’t have it.

    Ugh, no, in my ideal language school, we start with Beowulf in the original Anglo-Saxon and work our way up from there.

    Of course people want something cheap—but when it comes to languages that are as different as English and Korean, I would not really trust a non-Korean who simply watched lots of Korean movies; I would not give him my money, I would not waste my time trying to learn the language from him. And of course it is so easy to look like you can speak a language well around people who know nothing about it; Jung Chul preys on that particular weak spot, and squeezes as much cash as he can out of it. So, give me a native or give me an expert, that’s what I need if I want to learn another language; Jung Chul is neither.

  3. So this is the man I should be hating for making people say “take a rest”? And yeah that dialog is awkward as hell! I want to make a video about “Bad English in Korea” and this would make a great example. Thanks for posting this article ^^

    • hiddenconnections says:

      For a phrase as immortal and undying as “take a rest”, there must be millions of people to blame, but who knows, perhaps it all really did start with Jung Chul.

      • So many epic fails in one small lesson:
        -No one buys a dress at the supermarket
        -Dress gets translated into “clothes” in Korean
        -No article in front of dress

        I need to find more of this man’s epic fail material.

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