Hello, everyone. Welcome to the English Talk Podcast. I’m your host, Robin Shaw. In my podcasts I like to give good information about learning English. And I hope my guest today helps you to know more about studying English. And my guest today is a student of mine. and I’ve known him and I’ve been teaching him for a few years and he is Hyungwoo Jo and Hyungwoo Jo welcome. Thank you.. nice to meet… nice to have a good opportunity here. Okay and we’re gonna… with Hyungwoo I’m gonna talk about how he studied English because he improved his English in a very fast time In just a couple of years, he went from alow level to quite advanced level. So we’re gonna find out from him how he did that. So we first met a few years ago. and your level was not so good. I… if I remember. You speak better now and they will hear you soon, but what I want you to do is tell us your story. so how did you learn English? Go back to when you first started studying English until now. and tell us the story. Okay. Until high school I was not interested in learning English at all. I went to college and there was a professor who was from Australia and I first got to know her… Her?! Her. She was… Okay. Yep just an as an FA… FYI She was beautiful and she was really authentic. She was like an angel at the time. Okay it’s good motivation to study English. As a guy student and… One day I wanted to talk to her but I couldn’t because she was a English speaker and I was not able to speak English at the time. And one day, I was always staring at her – far away from her. And one day she approached me – asked me “Hello, Hyungwoo, How are you?” And I said, “I am fine… I’m fine.” with the strong Korean accent and I wanted to get to know her more but I couldn’t because of my English ability. and then I… there was a great motivation that I oh I have to study English harder harder to get know her. I want to get close to her – not just as a female, someone who attract me, and just because someone that I want to get to know her. So there was the motivation that I determined that I had to study much harder to talk to the beautiful female teacher. yeah. And then after… so did she help you with English or… yes and I asked her that I want to talk to her after the class and we had some small talk and by listening to her, and by asking her some questions to solve my curiosities, I prepared some questions that I want to ask her and because I don’t want to be looked like a fool student, I prepared looking at some dictionary and with grammar and looked at some sentence and I just copied them utilized that sentence as my question to ask her so … In other words I just prepared a question what to ask in advance. Okay. Yep and then I asked her. She answered me back. and I tried to focus… Well he’s speaking very fast now. Okay. Umm… I don’t think you spoke that fast when I first met you. Certainly you didn’t speak that fast. I take that as a compliment. Thank you. That was motivation and… and so once I see myself’s improvement in English ability, I started searching out something that I can further improve my English. And I found out an app called Meetup and I found out something that I can practice or improve my English All right. The Meetup app yeah.. did you… I know that app. and maybe some of my audience doesn’t know that app, so what is the Meetup app exactly? That’s a… that is an app that we can find out someone who is interested in a same area that I want to join. Join.. interested in what? What kinda areas? For example any hobbies. Okay. well my interest… interested.. my interest was about English so I checked an English section and I found a club – which is speech club that I can practice my English which is called Toastmasters. Toastmasters. Yep, have you heard about it? Yes. It’s International app, so I’m pretty sure… What is the Toastmasters? It’s a speech club that we can practice. We can give our speech and we can listen to other the speakers speech and that process is really crucial. How long were you in Toastmasters? Approximately six months. Six months.
And how did Toastmasters help you to improve? As I just said, it’s a speech club so basically in order to prepare for my speech,
I need to write down my script which is improving my writing ability and I need to speak..
therefore I need to practice by myself. which is improving my speaking ability and by listening to others speech,
I’m naturally improving my listening ability. Listening to vocabularies that I haven’t heard before. So those three core things:
writing, speaking, and listening were significant in improving my English. Through the Toastmasters? Through the Toastmasters. Okay, that’s great to hear. Yeah I know.. I recommend them to you, too. They’re very helpful. If there’s… there’s Toastmasters every city in the world almost. and seek… seek them out. It’s not an English class – as you said.
It’s a speech class. Join them. This this will certainly help. This group will certainly help you improve your English speaking. and as he said, listening ability. Alright, so… After that, you’re planning to go to America to study. So how did you prepare to go to America? Oh there is a certain test that is required as a criteria criterion to gain – obtain that admission from that university which is called TOEFL. Yep, TOEFL test. and I had to prepare for that TOEFL test in order to submit my application. Yeah that was a requirement yep. How did you prepare for the TOEFL test? I actually did not prepare for that TOEFL test. But I prepared… prepared for general English. I write is something in general not preparing for just for the TOEFL test. For example, I used to work for a professor and as an assistant and I asked him that I want to just talk for a minute about one topic. …for a second… just to prepare for the TOEFL test. I haven’t got any …separate school that’s preparing – training students to prepare for the TOEFL test I just asked my professor that I want to practice for one minute because that’s part of the task that’s required to TOEFL. So you didn’t directly study questions or… No. No. You just studied general English? Yes. Correct. Okay and obviously you were successful with the TOEFL test because you’re studying in America now. Yes. How long have you been studying in America? It’s been 11 months. 11 months and again what are you studying in America? I’m studying… I’m majoring in commercial aviation which is to become a pilot. Okay. So, I remember you before you went to America and I am talking to you now and there is a really big difference in your English ability… so… 11 months in America has been amazing to help you improve your English, so What happened in America?
How did you improve so fast? uh… first of all my exposure to English. Including people, culture, food, everything. But… you know I have a lot of other students that go to Canada or America for one year… sometimes two years and their English doesn’t improve so much so… What makes you different than them? Umm… I actually don’t know any of international students in America. What does that mean? Because some international students go to study abroad in order to study English, but I… because I prepared for that admission of the university to enter as a regular undergraduate student, I jump-started in a regular class with other native English speakers. Okay. So you don’t talk to many international students? I do not know any other international issues. You just try to focus or talk to or befriend native speakers? Correct. Not intentionally, but naturally. What about other Korean students? Come on… I saw some, but I didn’t get to have any opportunity to talk to them. I couldn’t… I know Koreans like to stick together abroad. They… you didn’t… you didn’t hang out with Koreans? Because there was… there was not necessary. Because I was busy enough to focus on my stuff. Okay. Okay. The time didn’t permit to get to know more people. All right, so, yeah America was amazing to help you so much. That experience there has improved your English a lot. Do you have any advice to other people who are struggling to improve their English? What would you tell them? My biggest advice if I can offer… so I believe that first, motivation is the most critical in starting and improving my English ability. Well your motivation was a pretty professor. What my point is… I didn’t start studying English in order to prepare for a test. Okay. But so many friends around me are just studying English to pass a test or to gain a high score. Okay so … To get a job, to transfer university, or you get an admission. That’s a good point . Your motivation was not just a test but it was to actually communicate. Correct. With someone that I’m interested in. so not just because someone that I’m interested in, But I have a lot of students around the world and some of them, you know, never met a native speaker. They.. there’s no native speakers around them in their… in their town or village. So how can they get motivated? Oh something else that I also tried was using an internet or a phone app. so I can approach and I can get to have a chance to talk to native English speakers… through the app or the pen pal website that I can use. Okay. I guess the last question here is do you… do you look at any English grammar books or do you study English now? No I do not study or I do not… I have never opened any English grammar books at all. Okay so everything you’ve done is acquiring English? Correct. I just read something – I naturally copy that structure and I naturally acquire. “oh that is the thing do.” Do you think everyone can do it like you? Yes I believe so. Okay I believe so, too. Okay. Alright, thank you man.
Your English is amazing. I’m very surprised to listen to you today. Thank you. You’ve done a really good job and I’m very proud of you as… as your teacher. And I hope you continue to improve your English. It’s not perfect yet. But I’m not perfect yet, either. But it’s a lifetime process so keep going man. Thank you very much and thanks for the opportunity to share my story. Okay thank you. Alight thank you for watching us and listening. I hope you guys learned something today and I’ll see you in the next podcast.