ELLI Student Feature – Yun Ho Kim
English, West Texas Style
People in other parts of the world may think that Texans talk funny, but Korean student Yun Ho Kim thought West Texas would be the perfect place to improve his English.
A native of Geoje (also spelled Koje) Island, Kim is a full-time economics student at Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul, South Korea. He wanted to improve his English language skills before he graduated, and that led him to the English Language Learner’s Institute (ELLI) at Angelo State.
“I searched for schools in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK,” Kim said. “But, I thought it was best to study English in the U.S. It is quite expensive to go to a U.S. university from Korea, but San Angelo is cheaper to live in than many other U.S. cities.”
“There are also very few Koreans in San Angelo,” he added, “so I thought it would be an interesting place to learn English.”
The final piece of the puzzle that persuaded Kim to attend the ELLI was an article posted on a Korean website by Yu Jin Kim, the wife of ASU criminal justice professor Dr. Won-Jae Lee. She had attended the ELLI and written about her experiences.
“She wrote an article that was on the Internet at the time I was searching for an institute in the U.S.,” Kim said. After I read the article, I chose to come here.”
Once he got to ASU in October of 2009, Kim was then faced with the choice of where to live. He could have lived off campus by himself, with a host family or in a campus residence hall. He became the first Korean ELLI student to live in a residence hall among the general student body.
“I could have lived on or off campus, but I don’t have a car and I got to choose my dorm, so I chose the Vanderventer Apartments,” Kim said. “I’ve lived there for almost six months and I have a good relationship with my roommate, who is American.”
During his time at the ELLI, Kim has gone from intermediate English to advanced levels and has studied academic writing, vocabulary and grammar development, discussion skills and conversation strategies. He has also listened to lectures, participated in research projects and gave a presentation on the Korean economy to an ASU political science class.
“He has been an excellent student,” said Carole Simpson, ELLI director, “and that presentation showed me how much his ability and confidence have grown.”
“Part of Yun Ho’s success,” she added, “has been through making a real effort to get to know other students in the residence halls, so much so that during Spring Break he was helping out a friend of a friend who needed to go to the hospital.”
Despite his improvements, Kim remains modest about his English. But, that did not keep him from pitching in to help out around the ASU Center for International Studies, where the ELLI is based.
“We had a group of 39 students from South Korea here in January,” Simpson said. “Yun Ho worked alongside fellow ELLI graduate Yu Jin Kim as a student counselor helping to make those students welcome at ASU, organizing afternoon activities for them, helping them with out-of-class issues and doing an amazing job of helping them produce the Korean Cultural Festival at the end of their stay. He was also attending class full time.”
“I wanted to help the other Korean students,” Kim said. “I got the benefits of ASU from the institute, Dr. Lee and the other students, and I wanted to return that to the Korean students. I thought that was very important.”
But, it wasn’t all work for Kim. Outside of class and his volunteer activities, he also spent time with his San Angelo host family, who volunteered to give him a taste of local culture through the Center for International Studies’ Host Family Program directed by Barbara Rallo.
“They were very friendly to me and it was a good experience,” Kim said. “I learned a lot from them, like about their life and religion. We had dinners together and they also took me to different places.”
“I really like the weather,” he added. “It has been very good. I also like the people. I stayed on campus mostly, but I never felt lonely. I know a lot of people and I made a few very close friends. The food here is also very good.”
Kim’s stay at ASU will end in May, and though he will be happy to get home, he will also miss his temporary home at ASU.
“I will miss my new friends,” Kim said, “and especially Carole (Simpson), Dr. Lee and some others. They were all very friendly.”
“I think it has been a very good experience for me, learning English and getting to meet all the people,” he added. “It has been a great cultural experience and I got a lot of benefits, not just English.”