English is a spec that almost every person like students, jobseekers, and employees should have. We invest much time and cost in learning English, and it is not too much to say that no one in the world makes as much efforts as we Koreans to learn English. However, even if we have studied English since we were young, our listening and speaking skills may not be improving. We get good scores in the English written test, but when we happen to meet foreigners in the street, we panic and can’t speak a word. There is a person who gives hope to many people who are suffering from these problems. He is the developer of ‘Sound English’, Jae-Sung Yoon. He never studied abroad and did not major in English but teaches many people how to speak English fluently. I wonder what ‘Sound English’ is? Let’s find out about his new process for learning English, which unlike other traditional methods, concentrates on ‘English sounds’.
#Part 1. English is a ‘Language’, rather than ‘Studies’
Many Koreans are very good at English written tests, but their listening and speaking skills are not developed well. We have studied English for a long time. What is the problem? Jae-Sung Yoon simply says that the reason is that “we can’t listen to English sounds”. He found our problem in the nature of language, which means “English is a language, not studies”. That is, language is acquired naturally, not to be studied. He starts to talk by saying that we are misunderstanding many things about English.
“I am not an English major and I’ve never been abroad. I’m an ordinary person. English was mandatory for me since I wanted to work in the trade business. At that time I had studied English for about 20 years. I got good test result, but I couldn’t even understand or speak a word. I watched American movies and dramas, and I realized that I couldn’t understand the actors. I used to listen to them speak one sentence over and over for a month. But I couldn’t understand. I tried for another month when I commuted. Then, I felt a big sense of achievement when I at last clearly understood one sentence. The language used in movies or dramas is real language, not a difficult language. If we can’t listen to it, that means we can’t understand spoken English. Surprisingly, the words used in movies and drama scripts are mostly “the words that we know”. Almost 95% of the language that Americans use in their daily lives is about 2000~3000 words that Koreans learn in their Junior High schools. That is, we can’t even hear to the words that we know.
Reporters were greatly astonished at his mentioning that we can’t even hear the words that we know. I wondered what “English sounds” are. ‘Sound English’ is based on the first language acquisition which is different from the general English study methods.
“Language is acquired naturally, not learned. That is, if we can hear English, we can learn it naturally. We can easily understand this when we think of how we acquired our mother tongue, Korean. No one strives to learn Korean. It is naturally acquired. First, we listen to our parent’s voices and at some point our ears get used to their voices. Then we repeat them until we can speak the voices as they are. However, we memorize English words and write them before listening to them when we learn English. Even babies can speak a language perfectly after 5 years, but we who have studied English for over 10 years, but can’t speak one word in English. That is our reality. This means our English study methods have some problems in general.”
#Part 2. Listen to the clear ‘English Sound’
Jae-Sung Yoon, who is called the originator of ‘Sound English’, emphasized the ability to hear English sounds clearly throughout the interview. The reason that we can’t speak a word in English is because we skipped studying ‘listening’ which is the first stage in mother tongue acquisition. English can be understood when we can listen to English sounds clearly. However, it is difficult to hear the sound at first. Why can’t we catch an English sound, even though we can catch Japanese and Chinese? It is because there is ‘accent’ and ‘respiration’ in English. These two factors are not used in Asian language including Korean which is unfavorable to Asian people when learning English. So it is important to hear English sounds which contains ‘accent’. It is our job to make people who can’t listen or speak English have the ability to follow English sounds.”
When I asked about the specific learning method of ‘Sound English’, he continued to talk with self-confidence.
“The ’Sound English’ learning method exactly reproduces how the new-born learns the native language. If you can hear a language, you can learn it naturally. First, we let people hear English sounds and imitate the sounds. It is the first step to have the function which enables you to hear the true sounds of English and imitate them. It is very important to hear the sounds many times since language can be heard when you are accustomed to it. The key point is only to concentrate on the sounds, not thinking of the meaning of a word or a sentence structure. The second step is to listen to the sounds of news, dramas, and movies and absorb them to the utmost. It is the stage of absorbing English sounds while listening to the media that has a native speaker’s voice. It is important to absorb the sounds comfortably, not thinking of anything. When it comes to the state in which you are listening to English as if it were Korean, it is time to precede to the last step. In the third step, you do not think of what you want to say in your mind, but speak in English loudly. It means to speak unconditionally without thinking. When one trains using this process for about three weeks, without exception everyone says, "words are naturally out".
“My goal is to keep helping people to speak English like Korean. If you practice in this way every day, you can use English like a native language without exception in one year.”
At the end of the interview, we asked a piece of advice for college students. He gave some prudent advice.
“I want you to have the ability to speak English like Korean. It doesn’t mean that one who is good at English is superior and one who is bad at English is inferior. English is merely a function. However, English is the world’s official language that can expand one’s scope of activity. Many office workers and students can’t make their way to the wide world on account of their poor English skill. What a pity it is! Second, if your economic condition permits, have as many experiences as possible. I want to tell you to expand your viewpoint to foreign countries and also to receive high-quality education.”
“Life goes faster than we think. I want to say that it's time to make a lot of effort to prepare for the old age society. Some say that age is only a number but I think it is reality. The elderly have to live thinking of ‘how they will be remembered by other people’, and young people like you can lead your lives by setting infinite goals and trying to achieve them. I want to tell you to experience various things and take a lot of challenges.”
Jae-Sung Yoon said his goal is to make many people not afraid of English by sharing ‘The sound English’ study method with them. During the interview, we could feel the strong will in his eyes. He seemed to want to strive to enable more people to speak English like Korean. Why don’t you study English by using ‘The sound of English’? Have you failed to listen and speak English fluently by other methods? Isn’t the reason we had difficulties in English that we have approached English only as studies? Let’s listen to the ‘English sound’! When we can hear the ‘sound’, the "wall of English" will collapse.
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