Expat DJ creates app for Korean ESL students
By John Redmond
For many English teachers in Korea, finding new and interesting teaching content can often prove a little challenging.
With advances in technology, popular expat KBS radio show personality John Valentine has combined his music/songwriting skills and teaching experience to create a unique app for users.
As co-host of “Good Morning Pops” airing from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. weekdays on KBS 2 FM, Valentine has written and performed songs enjoyed by fans of the show since 2000.
Using music as an avenue to teach English, he has created an app called “Pops English” that allows users a range of options that include the performance of the song, background information and spoken word content of the lyrics.
“The ‘Pops English’ app is designed in a way that users can purchase for a very small fee my songs one at a time. When a user downloads one song on a smartphone, it comes with a package of options. I explain the background of the song and what it means. I play the song on my guitar and sing the lyrics. I also simply read the lyrics without music so that the user can hear them clearly and gain an understanding of the English therein,” said Valentine.
Explaining that the app is intended to help all areas of English language ability, he also highlighted the use of video lessons as well as fun activities.
“The app provides audio language lessons so that users can improve listening comprehension, pronunciation, vocabulary and rhythm in speaking. It also provides video lessons through which I personally explain the lyrics, the vocabulary and ways in which the app user can improve English ability.
“There is also a game/quiz feature utilizing the terms and expressions learned from the audio and video lessons. The user can practice the songs on the app and when ready, try to sing them. There is a feature that allows the user to sing along with the guitar and record one’s own voice,” he continued.
As a professional songwriter, Valentine said that the users should not worry about their singing ability, as the purpose is to develop an understanding of the rhythm of the English language.
“I am a professional songwriter, but not a professional singer and I don’t expect any of the users to be embarrassed about singing or listening to the recordings of their own voices singing in English. Nobody is judging singing ability. The purpose of that exercise is to develop rhythm and timing in using English ... Developing rhythm and timing improves the ability to speak English.”
“This application provides opportunities to make language improvements in vocabulary, pronunciation, rhythm in speaking, and comfort in using English which in turn improves conversation ability, raises test scores and allows the dedicated user a level of comfort. This shows when traveling, meeting foreigners, in job interviews, and even when watching TV and movies and listening to music in English,” he concluded.
John Valentine is from Allentown, Pa. He has been in Korea since 1986 and speaks fluent Korean.
As well as teaching at major schools and universities in Korea he has made numerous television and radio appearances on Arirang, KBS, TBS and EBS over the last 25 years.