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The Necessity of Studying Abroad
Cho, Hong-min Freshman, Dept. of International Rel  |  slimjp@hanmail.net
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[0호] 승인 2004.09.09  
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Most Korean students who are majoring in a foreign language often have a dream of studying abroad to learn about the language’s culture. Moreover, many students believe that this is actually necessary. This is because they think that just mastering a language will not make them perfect students of that language.

While some of them do go abroad to study, others do not and consequently they will be more deficient in their language studies. So, in my opinion, studying a foreign language in its native country is necessary for a student to have a complete under-standing of that language.

Unless the language learner studies abroad, he or she will not be able to communicate effectively. That is, they will not understand the exact meaning when they talk with a native speaker.

The main problem in communication will result from different ways of thinking based on differences in cultural background between the language learner and a native speaker. For example, Cola in Korea is called Coke in America, but my mother did not know it. So, when she ordered a glass of Cola from a waitress at a restaurant in America, the waitress could not understand what my mother was saying.

My mother just stood there repeating, “One Cola, please.” The problem was finally solved when I got there and ordered a Coke for my mother. To understand a foreign language well, one should know its life styles and ways of thinking. Only then can we communicate with native speakers effectively.

Actually, a lot of people want to go study abroad but the reasons they can’t go are often financial. But nowadays there are several ways you can go without spending too much money.

You can attend a foreign university as an exchange student, and also you can go by winning plural degrees. Of course, these are not easy to get, but if you do achieve them, there will be a lot of support from the school. If you have enough money, I would like to propose that you go study abroad even if for a short time.

There are two typical ways of doing this: you can go at an early age with your parents, or by yourself. In the former case, you can master a foreign language very fast and get used to the foreign culture very quickly. But you might forget your native language.

In the latter case, you can have the freedom that you want, but it is important to have a strong will to study because you might get distracted by other interests and lay aside your study. Also you might lose your identity between Korea and the foreign country.

So it is your choice whether you study abroad at an early age or an older age, but it is an important decision that should be made with careful consider-ation.

A student studying abroad should bear in mind several facts in order to have a clear purpose for studying.

First, you must keep in mind that you are going abroad, and are not in Korea, because you want to study the language. For example, Koreans are going to America to learn English and to study in a better school than those in Korea. Secondly, it is related to employment. These days many companies prefer candidates who did further studies after studying abroad.

We do not use foreign languages in Korea because we do not need to. So, the process of learning a foreign language can be very slow. The opposite is true for students studying abroad. People can’t understand Korean language so you cannot use it and have to speak in a foreign language whether you want to or not.

The culture and spirit of a people are in their language. Moreover, languages can change as time goes by, so you can feel and know the meaning of changed words while you live in that country. In particular, pronunciation can be improved the most quickly. Thus, there are numerous reasons we need to go abroad to study.

Clearly, Korean students whose major is a foreign language should study abroad. If they do not, they will misunderstand a lot of things. One has to know more than just the language to be able to say that one really “knows” the language. Studying abroad helps the language learner to get a better idea of the other language’s culture.

After having the experience of studying the language in its native country, they will be competent students of the foreign language.
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