Critical Language Scholarship Program | Supporting Diverse Learners…

Supporting Diverse Learners of Korean: Kirstin Johnson

Kirstin Johnson (CLS 2015 and 2014 Korean) returned from Korea concerned about how to progress with her language learning. Her university offers neither courses in Korean nor any study abroad opportunities in Korea. She realized that teaching what she knew would be a great way of working on her Korean as it would help motivate her in her independent study and help retain information through frequent practice. Kirstin used her ADF grant to improve her Korean and create a series of educational videos largely focused on introducing Korean grammar and vocabulary. She has over 600 subscribers and her videos been viewed almost 19,000 times. 

Kirstin produced several videos addressing Korean grammar. She covered the basics of the conjugation of present tense verbs in two parts. The videos discussed the basics of the differences between action verbs and descriptive verbs or adjectives and gave examples of active verb conjugations. The second video covered the conjugation of descriptive verbs, using several examples. Kirstin also addressed how to differentiate between formal and familiar verb conjugations. 

Another two videos focused on presenting life in Korea while participating in CLS. Kirstin documented some of her experiences walking around Wonju with her language partner. The second video on life in Korea covered the week she spent with a host family, an experience she greatly enjoyed even though communication was difficult initially.

Additionally, Kirstin addressed her experience as a foreigner and particularly a woman of color in Korea. She observed that foreigners in general tended to receive a fair amount of attention, especially in a smaller city, but as a woman of color she tended to receive more attention than other members of her CLS cohort. However she found the attention to be largely a positive as people were overwhelmingly friendly and it was an opportunity to have more conversations about her cultural background and how it relates to other aspects of American culture or Korean culture.

The Alumni Development Fund in 2014 awarded funding to 65 alumni from the 2014 cohort who submitted proposals for activities to assist with their continued language learning and/or professional academic development. Priority was given to applications that incorporated or explained how their activity would have a wider impact on others (e.g. students, CLS alumni, community).

2014 ADF projects covered a wide scope of topics and activities. Some projects focused on improving the awardee’s CLS language skills in order to indirectly affect the public through the creation of language materials, improving one’s effectiveness at their workplace, and sharing their research and CLS experience at national conferences. Other projects directly impacted others, for example through the creation of an international pen-pal exchange, language tables at universities, and community events highlighting their host languages and cultures.