Interview with the Language Expert — 1

Interview with the Language Expert — Bora Kim(French Language Expert)

Bora Kim is one of the most respected French language expert among Koreans. This time, we have opportunity to have an interview to share her insight on studying a foreign language as a French language expert!!

Please Introduce yourself.

Hi, my name is Bora Kim. I’ve lived in Paris since 2009 for study. Currently, I’m pursuing a doctoral degree in phonetics. In the meantime, I’m doing an internship in the Sejong Institute as a Korean teacher, happily helping the Korean learners there.

What motivated you to start studying French?

I was a fan of foreign cultures so I started to study English, Japanese and French since they have abundant materials for study. Among them, I chose French as my major and went deeply into the French language. French is, as you know, one of the most romantic languages, but also widely used. I thought it the most practical and beautiful language on earth.

What was the biggest difficulty you found in reaching your level of fluency?

It’s a matter of the mentality. I, as a Korean, found it hard to speak French naturally at first. Some of expressions I used, the way I joined words together, and my sentences were quite unclear from a French perspective. This put me in trouble when I worked in translation or interpretation. So I put myself into special training to learn to think in the French way. In the end, the training was quite mandatory in order to think, speak, and pronounce naturally. Still I’m limited to thinking 100% just like French natives do, but I do my best to do it that way.

How did you study before coming to France?

I studied French throughout my college years, so I was fine with grammar. But staying with French natives is another league entirely, so I had to practice mostly speaking before visiting France. Given that I’m quite introverted, I devised my own method for practicing. I simulated every situation and wrote a script about it. That way, I could learn useful expressions and vocabularies.

Do you have any special tip to offer to a student of Korean or another language?

It’s definitely better to study based on your interest. If you just make up your mind, it’s challenging to keep your motivation. In my case, I love comedy shows, so my wish to understand what Japanese and French comedians were saying motivated me to study not only language itself but cultural background as well. Along the way, I love French art and movies so I studied French from them too. Now I’m kind of into Italian. I happened to listen to a few Italian songs that stuck in my mind. So my Italian study is listening to Italian music. Frankly speaking, you should make an environment that makes you think, choose a language you’d love to learn, then study it intensively for a period of time.

What plans do you have to make the best use of your French language skills?

Ironically, I came to realize the importance of native language while studying foreign languages. If you fully understand your native language, it will help you a lot to speak other languages too. This insight led me to teach French people who love Korean culture and would love to learn the Korean language. So at the moment, I love my job, teaching Korean to French people. If I’m lucky enough, I’d love to work in other countries too. Every language has a root, and if you drill down in one language it’s rather easy to expand that to other languages as well. In my case, I find myself being familiar with Italian when studying it. I wish you all good luck in studying languages!


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