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Life is not a line that you travel, but a series of doors you walk through. Each decision opens some doors and closes others. None of us follow the same path. The path is yours alone. If you learn that now, you won’t waste your life following others. Make your own way because you are the only one with the right keys.

In order to make your own way, you need to work hard to know yourself. You have to take a realistic looks at your goals, skills, and deficits. By doing this, you will be better able to formulate a personal learning plan and follow through on that plan.

Setting Goals

Where do you want to be and what do you want to be doing in 6 months? In 1 year? In 3 years? In 10 years? It is important for you to set realistic short-term and long-term goals. Short-term goals are immediate. They are goals that you are currently working on accomplishing. Long-term goals are beyond your immediate abilities. They require you to successfully complete numerous short-term goals in order to qualify for the long-term goal.

You can approach goal-setting systematically by doing the following:

Set realistic short-term and long-term goals.

Beginning with your long-term goals, determine which short-term goals should be achieved before you can accomplish each of your long-term goals.

With your short-term goals in mind, work backwards to determine the steps you need to take to achieve each of those short-term goals.

What knowledge do you need?

What experience do you need?

Which documents do you need?

Hold yourself accountable for achieving your goals. Don’t just hope for success, make it happen!

Your Language Journey

If you are reading this, I assume that English language learning is important to at least some of your goals. Therefore, let’s consider ways that you, as a student at Sangmyung University, can improve your English language skills and your overall comfort with using English to communicate. There are many considerations that influence how you do this: your goals, opportunities available to you, your finances, and your personal preferences. I can’t tell you exactly what to do, but with the following internal resources (at SMU) and external resources (outside of SMU) you can begin to put together your own personal learning plan to help you to accomplish your goals.

Internal Resources

Sangmyung University has many people, classes, clubs, and events to help you thrive socially and linguistically. Take advantage of these resources to get the most out of your university experience.


There are many clubs at Sangmyung University that can provide social and linguistic support for your language learning goals, including: S.P.E.C., SISO, the Sangmyung English Debate Association, and the Sangmyung Herald.



English conversation and social club

Featuring discussion topics accessible to everyone and social events.

Meets Wednesdays at 6:00 (generally)

Faculty Sponsor: Daniel Craig


SISO (Sangmyung International Student Organization)

Celebrates the diversity of students attending SMU

Features regular meetings and exciting events.

Meetings: Every other Thursday at 6:00 in the English Village

Faculty Sponsor: Davis Ellis


Sangmyung English Debate Association ( 상명영어토론회 )

Competitive debate club for improving students ability to think and speak critically in English

Features 7 minute speeches. Choose a topic and take a position!

Meetings: Every Tuesday at 5:00 in the English Village

Faculty Sponsor: Samuel Denny


Sangmyung Herald

English language magazine

High-quality writing and reporting on students’ views and lives.

Faculty Sponsor:



The professors in the English Education Department are here to help you to achieve your goals, whether this means helping you to understand issues in linguistics and education or helping you to improve your language skills, regardless of your career goals. Never be afraid to contact them for help. Visit their offices, arrange meetings through the English Education office, email them directly, or contact them using any other method available.

In addition to personal assistance, many English courses are available for SMU students, and particularly for English Education students.

English Education o ffers a variety of writing and conversation courses, in addition to content-area courses taught in English.   

General Education offers English 1 & 2 (conversation classes), English 3 TOEIC classes, and English 4 classes (Advanced English Conversation, Current Issues, Listening, and possibly others to come soon).   


Students often bemoan their feeling that there is nobody to practice their English with. What they often ignore is that they have dozens of students in their own department and 100s of others throughout SMU who they can practice with. Most of the students around you are struggling to improve their language skills in order to pass TOEIC requirements, to be competitive for particular jobs, or even just to better communicate with others around the world.

What are some of the things that you can do with your fellow students?

English-only meetings - Establish meeting times where you only speak only English. Many people are busy, but you can do this by planning weekly lunch meetings. You can kill two birds with one stone.

Study groups - Create a study group. Have regular study group meetings where you focus on particular skills that you all need to improve on.

Reading club - Form a reading club. Choose a book that everyone in the group will read and discuss at weekly or monthly meetings. The same can be done with movies, TV shows, video games, comics, sports, or any other English content that can be consumed and discussed.

External Resources

There is literally a world of opportunity outside of the Sangmyung University campus. Opportunities to engage with others in English are plentiful, from institutes to study abroad to clubs. Of course, we can’t forget the Internet. The Internet brings the world to our fingertips. English is only a click away.

Traditional External Resources

Academies Academies are a good source of instruction outside of the University. There are many of these throughout Korea. They not only provide instruction but also opportunities for communication. Sometimes, it is more motivating when you are paying for a class. This is good for some learners.

Tutors Tutors, like academies, are great resources for language learners. They can provide personalized instruction and one-on-one interaction, which is especially beneficial for language learners.

Study Abroad Emersion in a foreign culture (and language) can be a very powerful language learning experience. This very expensive experience, if done well, can result in amazing improvement in both language learning and one’s understanding of the other culture. Study abroad can be done privately or through the University as part of an exchange program.

Creative External Resources

I call these creative external resources because you have to use your imagination a little (as well as some good research and networking) to find these.

Volunteering There are many good volunteer opportunities available in Korea and some of these include working with people who do not speak Korean (well). This is a great way to help people in need while helping to improve your knowledge of English and other cultures.

Jobs There opportunities to work with people inside (and outside) Korea while working at jobs (or internships). Working general part-time service jobs (coffee shops, stores, etc.) in tourist areas is one way to get this experience. Another venue is through a large number of part-time jobs doing translation and interpretation. Even if you think that your translation skills aren’t great, you can likely do so well enough for some jobs. If you challenge yourself, you will improve more.

Clubs Join clubs that have members who do not speak Korean (well). There are many of these clubs in Korea, but they can be difficult to find. These can be great for making both social and professional relationships in addition to using English in authentic interactions. There are some suggested clubs below in the Connecting offline section.

Friendships Making friends with people who do not speak Korean (well) can be a great, fun way to practice your English.

Internet Resources

There are a number of different kinds of Internet resources that you can use to help you with your English, either directly or indirectly.

Some resources can be used independently,   

Some resources can be used to connect to others online

Internet Cautions

Before I talk about Internet resources, I have to provide a warning and encourage caution. The Internet is the real world and there are many good and bad people there. You should always be careful when meeting people online.

Information as much as possible, avoid giving personal information to people and services, including email, phone number, home address, school you attend, and even your full name in many situations.

Offline meetings meeting someone offline who you met online can be quite risky. If you do choose to do so, make sure that the meeting place is public and go with friends until you are comfortable with the new person or group.


Independent Study

Below are links to a variety of websites that you can use to practice your English.

      ESL Lesson Websites Listen a Minute ( http://listenaminute.com/ ),

Breaking News English ( http://www.breakingnewsenglish.com/ ) ESLpod ( http://www.eslpod.com/ )

Podcasts NPR ( http://www.npr.org/ ), CNN ( http://edition.cnn.com/services/podcasting/ ), Grammar Girl ( http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/grammar-girl )

News & Entertainment VoA ( http://www.voanews.com/ ), CNN ( http://edition.cnn.com/services/podcasting/ ), Comedy Central Stand-up ( http://www.cc.com/stand-up )

Video There are many websites that specialize in video, so I won’t add links here. Unlike your parents, I recommend that you watch as many (English language) TV shows and movies you want J

Computer-assisted Language Learning Links ( http://goo.gl/PZM7KC ) This is a list of links that Prof. Craig maintains. You can find resources for English teachers and English learners.


Connecting online

General Social Networks General social networks can be great for meeting people from all over the world, and those here in Korea.

Facebook (http://www.facebook.com), Twitter (http://www.twitter.com)

Language Learning Social Networks There are a number of social networks that specialize in language learning. These are great for meeting people who can help you with your own learning goals.

LiveMocha ( http://livemocha.com/ ), SharedTalk ( http://www.sharedtalk.com/ )

Penpals ( http://www.interpals.net/ ) The old favorite now how a 21 st century twist. Find people (and classes) who want to exchange email.

Video Conferencing Videoconferencing is now part of many software applications, a couple of popular options are listed below. These are great for speaking with friends and joining sched uled talks. While phone calls can be great, but video adds a whole new level of interaction.

Google Hangouts ( http://www.google.com/+/learnmore/hangouts/ )

Skype ( http://www.skype.com )


Connecting offline

KOTESOL ( http://www.koreatesol.org/ ) This is the Korean affiliate of the international TESOL organization. This organization is great for young teachers of English. You can participate in workshops and conferences and meet other teachers of English, both novices and experts.

Meetup.com ( http://www.meetup.com/ ) Meetup.com is an online directory for offline meetings. In other words, you can find groups that meet face-to-face through Meetup.com. A couple of popular ones are below.

LanguageCast ( http://www.meetup.com/Languagecast/ ) Language exchange group that has multiple locations throughout Korea, with a few different meeting places in Seoul.

Language Exchange Café ( http://www.meetup.com/Language-Exchange-Cafe/events/158763652/ ) Another language exchange group.

Korea International Volunteers ( http://www.meetup.com/volunteers/ ) This is a group of volunteers who work around Korea, but mostly in and around Seoul. This is a very active group and their activities fill up quickly.

Central Korea Hiking and Travel Group ( https://www.facebook.com/groups/centralkoreahiking/ ) This is a group that meets for hikes. This is one example of a group that you can find on Facebook. They meet frequently around Seoul for hiking, but they also arrange trips to other wonderful mountains around Korea. This is an international group, with members from many countries.