Thursday, June 19, 2014

Language Bridges

Most people are familiar with the term 'language barrier.' This refers to a breakdown of understanding between people due to a difference in languages. I have certainly experienced this so far on this experience. 

The other day when I tried to buy some clothes after my suitcase was lost, the saleslady tried so hard to help me. She knew I didn't understand things such as sizing and the way you go about paying.  I didn't know what she was saying, and she didn't know another way to say what she meant. We ended up resorting to lots of hand motions and drawings. And both of us used whatever words we knew from each others' language (not much from my end). Thank goodness, we were eventually able to overcome it to convey our meanings.

Our textbook and workbook
A nation's language can tell you a lot about its people-what they value, how they think. For instance, many words in Korean are very polite. There is even a verb ending that makes a request that is polite. Overall, this is also true with the people, as well. As you learn these intricacies, it become more apparent of the bearing language had on connections and cultures. 

By knowing a bit about the language and culture, you can better understand and connect with people individually. A language barrier can be a powerful force. It prevents understanding and can be very frustrating for both parties, But what's stronger than that is the willingness to try. 

My SNU teaching partner, Haejin, was asking me about what we learned in class one day. I told her I wasn't very good at speaking Korean yet. She replied that that is alright. It's not the lack of speaking ability that would cause problems. Instead, because I am trying, she was appreciative and excited. She explained that Korean people are happy just that we're trying. The effort is the important part.

Part of the reason we are visiting Korea is to learn about school-based agricultural education in another nation. However, another part is because of the relationships of this program. It would not be possible without the connections between faculty, students, etc at Penn State, University of
An awesome pencil I got from a quiz
Florida, and SNU. The continuation and strengthening of these bonds is even greater. By working with the Korean students we will be able to connect both with our partners and with the culture. Understanding of relationships between people and cultures is extremely relevant. And that's what makes all of these bridges important. 

I really love language school My least favorite thing about it is that it is only for five days. We will be able to reach hospitality level, but not much farther. It would take us months to be able to become anywhere near conversational. I would love to be able to be in this country and actually understand more of the language. That way I would be able to build my own bridges between the Korean culture and ours.


  1. Cassidy, you're so modest! You should brag about the fact that you were the only person to get 100% on the quiz!

  2. Such an amazing opportunity for these students and the faculty they are with!