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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan

Ulsan Language Exchange Table’s 2nd Meeting

Turnabout is Fair Play

Forty people – a healthy mix of foreigners and Koreans, including people from America, Canada, and England, sat around a number of tables at Mellocup across from the University.  Organized by a tall, handsome go-getter 22-year-old of a Korean studying at Ulsan University, the Ulsan Language Exchange Table had its second meeting last Saturday evening.

For ten thousand won, we had lemonade, snacks, and the opportunity to chat with fun, open-minded Korean students.  Ages ranged from 17 to 50+, with most being students.  It seemed, based on this writer’s experience, like the Koreans were most interested in practicing English.  We all had a great time, and many of us foreigners learned a thing or two.

At the beginning, our host called up any English speakers who knew “a little Korean” to introduce themselves for two minutes.  Your intrepid writer hastily prepared a script, and read it aloud.  While some more self-conscious might have felt that this was a little like being a circus act, the mood of the crowd did everything to alleviate that.  The whole group was encouraging and genuine – even when one at the front accidentally said “I am bulgogi” instead of “I like bulgogi”.

For the first half, from six until seven o’clock, the host demanded we all talk in English – and ONLY in English.  This went very well.  The cafe was full of cheerful, upbeat conversation, and encouragement all around for those people who were less well-versed in English.  Even when mistakes were made, the most important thing was communication.

Then, in the second half, from seven until eight, the host demanded we all talk in Korean – and ONLY in Korean.  You could feel the mood in the room change – all the Koreans present became a lot more confident, and all the foreigners equally less confident.  The native speakers returned the same cheerful encouragement and enthusiasm they’d received in the previous hour.

There were no structured activities, and I got the feeling anything like that would be entirely out of place.  After all, this wasn’t a classroom, and it definitely wasn’t a lecture.

After the second hour, the host called ALL the foreigners up to give an introduction of themselves – not just those who had stood up before.  I read the same script again, with added lines about where I work, where I live, and my family in Canada.  There were some small prizes – “best Korean teacher”, “most improved in Korean”, “best in Korean”.

If you missed this event, don’t worry!   There’s another scheduled for November 3rd at 7pm – at Alan’s place, Cima Bar.  Here’s the link – 18,000 won gets you unlimited barbeque, salad and rice, and one drink.  If Kim Yongsoo puts as much effort into it as he did the last one, it should be a great time for everyone! Here’s the link – clicky clicky