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Work, English Study and Travel program: South Koreans dive into English

From left, Kim Eunhee, Park Jeong-moon, Kum Kyo-hyuk and Lyu Ji-yoon listen to an evaluation of a presentation Monday afternoon in the BioHaus at Waldsee, the German Language Village at Concordia Language Villages. As part of the Work, English Study and Travel program, they are participating in a one-month immersion program at Concordia. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

Aspiring to be a pilot, Park Jeong-moon of South Korea wants to improve his English.

As part of the Work, English Study and Travel program, the junior majoring in aerospace engineering at Korea Aerospace University has traveled to the Bemidji area for a one-month immersion program at Concordia Language Villages.

Park said he felt he needed to improve his English because a pilot needs a certain level of skill in the language. He added that he felt the WEST program would be a good opportunity to learn English as well as learn more about American culture.

The WEST program, according to the Association for International Practical Training Web site, is an innovative exchange program created by a memorandum of understanding between former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan of South Korea.

WEST allows qualifying university students and recent university graduates from South Korea to visit the United States for up to 18 months to study English, participate in internships and travel independently, the Web site states. 

Concordia is one of four sites across the United States offering the English language training part of the program.

One month ago, nine university students and recent university graduates from South Korea arrived at Concordia.

Alexander Roth, dean of the program at Concordia, said it is a total immersion, experiential learning program .

"It's a really intensive program," Roth said.

Since their arrival, the participants have been immersed in the English language - focusing on grammar, pronunciation, reading and writing - and in American culture as they prepare for internships with American companies.

They also have learned about business practices, from networking to résumé writing to how to deal with a difficult boss.

Additionally, they have participated in SimCorp, which was developed by Concordia and places the participants in simulated business situations that they may encounter during their upcoming internships.

While in the Bemidji area, the participants also shadowed jobs in their interest areas.

Opportunity abroad

When Lyu Ji-yoon graduated in February from Chung-Ang University in Seoul, South Korea, she was looking for a job and saw a notice about WEST.

Lyu, who majored in advertising and public relations and minored in mass communication, applied for the program. She noted that she felt WEST would be a good chance for her to go abroad for an internship.

As she now practices her English skills at Concordia, Lyu said she appreciates the feedback she receives from the teachers in the program.

Also, Lyu said she particularly enjoyed job shadowing at Paul Bunyan Broadcasting.

"It was really great," she said.

Meanwhile, Park, who is interested in aviation and being a pilot, visited Bemidji Aviation for his job shadowing.

There, he saw a turbo prop engine. He said he learned about turbo prop engines in a textbook, but his visit to Bemidji Aviation was the first time he saw one in person.

Internships next

The WEST participants are nearing the end of the immersion program at Concordia.

Later this week, they will leave Concordia for internships in cities including Los Angeles, Colorado Springs, Chicago and New York City.