By Kim Bo-eun
Reading was the basis for acquiring English language skills, said Park Seul-gi, selected as an ETS scholarship student last month.
“Because I enjoy reading, I tried to utilize it to learn English,” said Park, a senior at Sungkyunkwan University. “Reading not only helped me develop my comprehension skills but also aided the improvement of my writing and speaking.”
The years she spent in the United States during high school definitely helped her, but success did not come without extensive effort.
“When I first arrived, I couldn’t tell the difference when I heard the words ― world, word and wall,” said the 25-year-old. “I struggled at first, but I was determined that I would improve my English skills.”
So Park started reading. She started with short stories, for which she would first skim through an entire story to get a basic understanding of the flow. Then she would go back and read more carefully.
“The method proved to be effective in building my reading skills. So I was gradually able to move on to more advanced novels,” said Park who is majoring in English literature.
Park also read magazine articles. She would cut out the ones she liked and paste them in a scrapbook, where she would write several lines, using expressions and words in the article. Sometimes Park wrote critical essays about the articles she read.
This helped her develop her writing and speaking skills. And Park is now teaching TOEFL writing classes at a private academy as a part-time job.
Park not only has great English skills, but as a hard worker, has also received a scholarship at school, acknowledging her academic achievements.
“I’ve never really been good at memorizing. I have to be able to understand and conceptualize what I learn,” she said. “I always paraphrase the notes I take in class, so that I put them into my own words, the way I understood the concepts.”
Park, now a senior who will attend her last semester at university this fall, will be starting to seek jobs in the upcoming semester.
She is interested in a workplace where there are frequent exchanges with foreign business partners. Park said she also realized through her part-time teaching job that she has a passion for teaching.
“I applied for the scholarship to be able to test myself ― I wanted to know how well I was doing,” said Park. “I was truly happy to know I got the scholarship. I am grateful and will continue to do my best.”
Educational Testing Service (ETS), a non-profit organization, selected 48 TOEFL and TOEIC scholarship students in Korea on July 18. The scholarship that has been annually awarded since 2008 provides $3,000 to its recipients, for tuition costs.
Applicants are required to submit a TOEFL or TOEIC score, a curriculum vitae and letters of recommendation.
A total of 158 students in Korea have received the ETS scholarship worth some $560,000 since 2008.