SeungEun Kim is originally from Korea. Like Sue Yoon (see our earlier blog post in November), she is pursuing an MA in LTS and an MA in East Asian Languages and Literatures at the same time.
You were an English major before entering the LTS program. What attracted you to English?
English was the first language that I fell in love with. So majoring in English was the one thing that I really wanted to do no matter what. Since I like reading literature in both Korean and English, I wanted to spend my undergraduate years reading and exploring my thoughts about the books that I read, and being an English major really made my dreams come true. I was able to spend my years as an undergraduate reading a lot of books, but more importantly, I learned how to read literature from more critical perspectives. I am glad that I have a background in English literature from my years as an undergraduate since I believe it has prepared me for how I will go about educating my future (language) students.
Now you are doing two concurrent MA degrees in LTS and East Asian Languages and Literatures (EALL). How did you shift over to a love of Korean as well?
Since being a foreign student here in America, I am proud that my national language of Korean is being taught here. I think my patriotism and love of my culture motivated me a lot to want to teach Korean. Also, as a bilingual speaker, I wanted to be more available to others who are learning Korean. Since I am a native speaker of Korean, I thought it would be great if I could be a source for those studying the language here.
What do you like best about teaching at the university?
I am thankful that I have the opportunity to teach Korean at a university in America. This opportunity has allowed me to collaborate with both international and American students together in my classes. Although my students are from different countries and cultures, and speak different languages, it has been great to see how they come together as Korean language speakers. When the students have the will to learn Korean, their passion for the language and love of Korean culture and literature really boost their improvement and are a great source of motivation. Moreover, teaching at the university is even more special to me because not only can I teach, but I can continuously increase my knowledge as well.
What is your idea for your MA project you will do in LTS?
I am interested in teaching language using literature. I am researching how literature as an authentic material should be used in the language classroom and appropriately chosen depending on the students’ language proficiencies.
What advice would you give applicants who might want to do concurrent MA degrees like you are?
The first advice I would give someone, based on my own experiences, is to believe in yourself when you are very busy and things are extremely stressful from all the classwork that you have to do. You need to stay strong, keep a positive outlook, and believe in yourself that you can do it. Know that you are not alone, and that there are people like the LTS program director, your advisors, and other teachers who are here to help and support us.