To hear KEOTI employees tell it, Korea Post is esteemed throughout Asia for their leadership in postal logistics. So KEOTI employees host international postal workers here in Cheonan and visit Thailand and other Asian countries to attend postal conferences. Guess what the common language is for postal workers throughout Asia?
Yesterday capped a day-and-a-half of teaching employees how to present in English, which reminded me of my project manager’s favorite motto,
“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
We plowed through nine 50-minute classes, including Making Introductions, Presenting Visual Data, Closing & Summarizing and everything in between.
- “In contrast to Gangam Style, which features choreographed dancing, Pusan Vacance features people freestyle dancing.”
- “Similarly, Gangnam Style and Pusan Vacance both have simple rhythms.” And my favorite:
- “Unlike Oppa Gangnam Style, which features sexy Korean women, Pusan Vacance features sexy non-Korean women.”
The prospect of teaching 25 students intimidated me initially, but we ended up having only ~12 students per class. I wonder if my feedback last week impacted which employees were able to attend class this week.
Mr. Yu, the head of HR, told me the goal of last week’s pronunciation class was to identify which students would be selected for professional development, including travel abroad. “Do not share your feedback with students,” he said.
Well, my students came to our pronunciation class ready to learn. They believed our class was professional development. I felt torn about how candidly to comment on students’ English proficiency. Sigh.
So last week, in two-hour increments, I taught 10 groups of students how to improve their pronunciation. How much do you think we can augment a lifetime of speech patterns in two hours? Not much, right?
So instead of making any difference, we identified which areas students needed to improve, I gave them exercises to improve their “arrs”, “ells” and “thes,” and we sang The Beatles. Not one student balked at standing up to sing All My Loving. It’s hard to overstate how deeply singing is ingrained in the culture here.
This Friday, I’ll return to KEOTI to watch my students present in English.
I hope I’ve taught them something useful.
Sometimes I question whether corporate camps are a waste of time for students. The class length is contracted, and students often don’t have a system in place to continue speaking in English once class ends, whether with a native speaker or a not-so-shy Korean friend.
But I’m here to save money not the world, and KEOTI was comfortable.
I was given a dorm room and a cafeteria card and was able to use the company gym.
Most important, my students were interactive and unique.
During the game Four Truths, One Lie*, my student EunKyoung told the class:
“Sometimes I want to be a butterfly.
I’d like to resemble a wild flower.
My favorite person is King Sejong.
I work in e-learning.
I don’t like swimming.*”
What a beautiful mind.
Eunkyoung is 51, directs e-learning for KEOTI and has received the second highest award from the President of Korea for her contributions to business. She also wants to be a butterfly.
Perhaps because Korea Post is a government agency and the training arm for every post office on the peninsula, we had a mix of men and women, ages and job functions in class. Everyone is unique, I’m reminded, even in a Confucian, 98.2% Korean society.