Song Yung, filmmaker extraordinaire, realised that to truly excel at international film festivals he wouldn’t be able to rely on Korean or Japanese. So, he chose to study English at OISE London. In a mere three weeks, the tutors are quite astounded at his progress. Song Yung’s pronunciation is noticeably clean and articulate, far gone from the shy communicator who walked through the door on the first day. I was lucky enough to catch up with Song Yung on his lunchbreak.
Song Yung is 28, born in South Korea. He studied in Japan between the ages of 18 and 26. He returned to South Korea for two years of mandatory military service, an experience he is glad never to repeat, and returned afterwards to his profession - cinematography and design.
He attended a variety of international film festivals - another motive for visiting bustling London - and struggled to network, preventing him from opening up new career opportunities. As an independent animator, film festivals are the perfect place to showcase his work, but most are inevitably held in Europe or the United States where English is the dominant language.
Inspired to transform his prospects, Song Yung booked a 32 week Quartorial™ course with the goal of applying for a working holiday visa and setting up in the United Kingdom for the next two years.
I ask him his opinion of his language skills and comfort with English. “Before I arrived, I couldn’t speak much English. We studied some at University but it didn’t help, as it was such a long time ago and only for a short semester.” Living in Japan, a curiously insulated culture, sealed him off from English influence for eight years. “Being in London is slowly awakening that old knowledge in me. The teachers are drawing it out. I think my pronunciation needs work still. I want it to be perfect.”
Well, he’s certainly on the right track. It will certainly assist him in his goal for the visa. Song Yung has to obtain a high score in his Cambridge language exam - something OISE can help him accomplish. He chose OISE after researching the different options with his father. The results-focussed, transformative atmosphere proposed by OISE appealed to him - he had no desire to treat his language development as a mere vacation.
But at the same time, all work and no play makes everybody rather dull, I think the saying goes. Song Yung’s favourite part of the week is the Friday social, where all the scholars can let off some steam and get to know each other better. He finds it hard to watch scholars come and go - as is often the case with those who take long-term programmes. However, it is not an entirely discouraging experience to see friends leave so quickly - meeting new people allows Song Yung to gauge his long-term progress, to converse with scholars from different cultures, and to help others in their transformation as well.
Outside of class, Song Yung wants to visit the Eden Project in Cornwall. A grand choice! Cornwall’s iconic attraction is an excellent location to visit, famed for its architectural and natural beauty. (For all visitors to the United Kingdom - Devon and Cornwall in the south west are counties characterised by rolling green hills and breath-taking coastal ranges, not to mention soft and sunny beaches. Consider this a formal recommendation.)
I ask Song Yung what advice he would give someone about to study English for the first time. He thinks for a moment and then tells me to swat up on vocabulary as early as possible. Grammar and pronunciation can come later - having a basic grasp of the building blocks of language allows one to make rapid progress in the classroom. Excellent advice - we wish Song Yung all the best in his continuing pursuit of English eloquence.
Find out more about OISE London here.
Written by Sam Kearns, Community Manager.