Hollywood Accents Draw Korean Language School to Walla Walla

January 01, 2006 | Kristi Spurgeon

A group from the largest language school in Korea recently spent a week at the Positive Life Radio studio, recording songs and stories that will be used to teach English to South Korean children.

Why did they leave Seoul, a city of approximately 20 million people, to record lessons in the small eastern Washington town of Walla Walla?

For the “Hollywood” accents of the West Coast.

While researching locations for the recording sessions, SeungMin Lee, chief audio engineer of the Seventh-day Adventist Language Institutes in South Korea, came across PLR’s Web site and liked what he heard. The modern facility on the Walla Walla College campus also met the technical needs of the institute, according to Walter Cox, PLR engineer, who helped coordinate the visit.

The project, headed up by Lee and InHe Shim, textbook writer, uses children’s songs and stories, like “The Wheels on the Bus,” to teach English to young people in South Korea. WWC students and elementary students from Rogers Adventist School, in College Place, Wash., are serving as the voices that will help millions of Koreans learn English.

“We sing a lot,” says Sophia Rich, a fifth-grader. “My voice gets really tired!” And although they spent hours in the studio on Sunday and all week after school, the students agree that the experience has been “lots of fun.”

“The songs add authenticity to the English lessons,” says Shim. “They also give the students a break from the difficult lessons. There is no pressure or stress, but by singing songs they feel happy and learn better.”

The language school was founded in September 1969. It teaches English, Japanese, and Chinese at more than 30 branch schools across Korea. Approximately 45,000 students attend the institute every two months. For more information, visit www.koreasda.org or www.plr.og.