President's Message


I am truly honored to have this opportunity to serve as the fifth President of the American Association of Teachers of Korean (AATK). I feel thankful to the board members who placed confidence in me, especially at a time when our organization is facing this second phase of growth as well as the new challenges associated with such growth. Since its inauguration in 1994, the AATK has steadily expanded into a large and strong professional organization, with over 220 members. Last year, the AATK marked the 11th anniversary of its foundation with the Annual Meeting, jointly hosted by Princeton and Rutgers Universities. To Dr. Gwee-Sook Kim of Princeton University, we owe the great success of last year's professional development workshop that featured a wide range of hands-on panels on "Creating Engaging Input." The conference was attended by 90 participants, and we welcomed 32 new members.

Continuous and concerted efforts have been made to ensure and improve the quality and relevance of the presentations as well as the involvement of participants through collecting and incorporating audience feedback. We have also implemented a more rigorous review process for the conference program and the publication of the proceedings. For the 12th Annual Conference to be held this year at the University of Chicago, 80 % of the workshop proposals and more than 20% of the conference abstracts were turned down through anonymous reviews. I am both happy (for the strength of our organization) and embarrassed (about my personal failure) to confess that my own proposal was rejected. The AATK has established itself as a strong academic organization, representing the teachers of Korean in the U.S. and Canada and providing regular forums for professional networking and the exchange of innovative ideas and tested experiences. Moreover, the annual meeting is especially valuable for members who mostly teach in small programs in isolation from other Korean teachers.

I am privileged to serve the AATK with the following experienced and dedicated officers. Professor Hyo Sang Lee of Indiana University will serve as Executive Secretary. As a functional linguist, he is interested in discourse-pragmatics, linguistic typology and language universals. He takes the view that our communicative needs and strategies shape grammar, and that grammar is the fossilizaton or routinization of recurrent communicative habits and patterns. As a teacher of Korean, he pursues active learning through contextualized instruction. Students are expected to learn from contextualized dialogues in class rather than through the instructor's grammar explanations from the outset. Recently he has been intrigued by the infinite number of possibilities of teaching and learning through web-based technologies, and is implementing his belief that current web and multimedia technology can enhance the learners' opportunities and place learners in contact with the target language in ways that are more interesting and contextualized than what is offered through textbooks alone.

Our Treasurer is Professor Hae-Young Kim of Duke University. Not only did she successfully host the 9th AATK Conference in 2004, but she has been one of the most active members of our organization. She is interested in developing teaching materials for input-based instruction of grammar, teaching sociolinguistics with authentic materials, and integrating culture into language instruction. Her research has focused on tense and aspect morphology in L1 and L2 Korean, relative clause construction in L2 Korean, Korean as a heritage language, and classroom discourse in content-based language classes. She would like to see the AATK continue to develop as a dynamic professional community that contributes to the enhancement of the academic standing of teaching Korean in higher education.

Professor Susan Strauss of Penn State University is our Newsletter Editor & Webmaster. Professor Strauss originally became interested in Korean grammar, culture, and pragmatics from the point of view of comparison and contrast with Japanese. The more she investigated Korean, the deeper her commitment grew to the study and analysis of the language. One of her academic goals is to publish a comprehensive discourse-functional-cognitive reference grammar of Korean for teachers, students, and discourse analysts. She has been the project director for CALPER (Center for Advanced Language Proficiency Education and Research) at Penn State and has published a number of articles on Korean grammar, focusing predominantly on the intricate interrelationships between language, cognition, and culture. She began attending AATK during the early years and is delighted to be back and part of such a supportive, constructive, and professional academic community dedicated to the study and teaching of Korean.

During our three-year service, we will set our priorities along the following lines. First of all, we will strengthen the AATK infra-structure by expanding the membership base and enhancing our website. We believe that the AATK will be a truly representative organization for Korean teachers in North America through the widest coverage of Korean programs and through active participation by the members. The following board members: Andrew Byon, Hangtae Cho, Sahie Kang, Mimi Mijeong Kim, Minsook Kim, and Mark Peterson have already formed a committee to identify some of the problems that we currently face. These include: lack of participation by teachers in some larger academic programs, discontinuation of participation by founding members, relatively low subscriptions from the Defense Language Institute (only about 30 Korean instructors out of 200 (15%) are AATK members), and the proper articulation of benefits for the members. The committee has already begun to work on solutions to these identified concerns. A second committee has begun working on issues related to website enhancement, under the leadership of our Newsletter Editor/Webmaster, Susan Strauss, Executive Secretary, Hyo Sang Lee and two board members, Kijoo Ko and Byoung-Joon Lim. So far, we have improved the mechanics for web-based correspondences and are reactivating the bulletin boards. Projects for the immediate future include: (1) creating a webpage for Korean language textbooks, annotated with descriptions of individual textbooks and a list of institutions that use them, together with ratings and links to publishers, (2) cataloguing Korea-related articles, including links to downloadable abstracts and/or pdf files, similar to those in library databases, (3) posting a survey of study abroad programs, (4) providing a list of materials available from the Korea Foundation, and (5) building a clearing house/bulletin board of downloadable teaching materials.

Second, we plan to set a firm ground for cooperating with other organizations in and outside the U.S. to better achieve our common goals of promoting and enhancing the education of Korean language and culture. For instance, the AATK will support the interests and agenda of elementary and secondary school teachers to establish and expand Korean curricula in public school education in the U.S. This will be done primarily through joint participation in the activities of the influential national organization, ACTFL (American Council of Teachers of Foreign Language) with secondary school teachers. Through our active participation, we hope to increase the visibility and profile of Korean?a profile that has been very low compared to other languages in ACTFL, which will lead to a positive impact on the perception of Korean and high-stakes policy decisions. The AATK also plans to strengthen ties with organizations elsewhere. For example, we would like to see increased interactions between the AATK and the International Association for Korean Language Education (IAKLE). We have invited an IAKLE representative to our annual meeting as part of a formal exchange. The IAKLE representative, will, when needed, provide a panel that could inform our members of current developments made in Korea. In response to an often-repeated request from our members, one of the themes of this year's workshop has been chosen as "Testing and Assessment," intended to demonstrate ways to develop, evaluate and adapt placement and proficiency tests. We are very excited that seven representatives from major Korean programs in Korea have accepted our invitation this year. Another interesting panel to be noted this year is on corpus analysis: Professors Hung-gyu Kim, Beom-mo Kang, and Jungha Hong of Korea University will present on the 21st Century Sejong Corpora, Professor Sung-Ock Sohn of UCLA is invited to share her research on "Corpora and their uses in Korean language research and pedagogy," and Professor Susan Strauss, of Penn State, will provide a critical review of corpus-based work and suggest ways to improve its application to linguistic research and language teaching. We hope that these presentations will be the first step in developing concrete ways to link corpus projects in Korea with actual teaching and research to be carried out by our members.

Generous financial support by the Korea Foundation has been essential to the establishment and development of the AATK. The annual meetings have depended on the Foundation's grants for major expenses, even in cases where the hosting institutions made many valuable contributions. Without the AATK meeting and the financial support provided by the Korea Foundation, some of us who do not hold regular positions at our institutions would miss these opportunities for professional development-and this would have dire effects on the quality of Korean teaching. Given that many of those positions will not likely be upgraded to a regular ranking in the near future, the Foundation's continued support will be crucial to making the on-going activities and the future success of the AATK possible.

The 2007 meeting, the 12th Annual Workshop and Conference, will be held at the University of Chicago from June 14th to the 16th. The Chicago Korean program, led by Professor Kyeong-Hee Choi (Korean Literature), and Drs. Jung-Hyuck Lee and Hi-Sun Kim (Korean Language), is emerging as one of the intellectual centers of Korean studies in the U.S. Having a meeting at such a prominent location will encourage and inspire the participants in their endeavors to grow stronger and more dynamic programs. I am very happy to report that, now with a list of enthusiastic volunteer institutions lined up for the next five years or so, we have the luxury of being able to choose future conference venues with a geographical balance in mind. The AATK 2008 meeting will be held at SUNY-Binghamton and the co-chairs are Professors Sungdai Cho and Susan Strauss, and the 2009 event will be hosted by the University of Washington in Seattle, chaired by Professors Soohee Kim and Hyo Sang Lee.

In addition, I would like to report on two new AATK projects that were launched this year with generous support from the Korea Foundation. The first is the AATK-ACTFL connection. Ten AATK officers and board members participated as panel members in the inaugural Special Interest Group (SIG) Business Meeting at the 2006 Annual Conference of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), the largest and most influential convention of foreign language teachers in the United States. Dean Sahie Kang of the Defense Language Institute worked hard for many years to establish the Korean SIG, through signature drives and by actively lobbying with the ACTFL administration. Now that the Korean SIG has finally been approved, it is imperative to demonstrate our genuine interest among Korean teachers. The Korean SIG status is provisionary for three years, and it is expected that the decision to grant us permanent status will be made by the ACFTL board members after evaluating our meetings and the level of participation by Korean teachers. A report from Dean Kang is included in our 2007 Newsletter. The second project is the establishment of the Korea Foundation-AATK Graduate Teaching Assistant Fellowships. Its purpose is to expand and enhance Korean language education in America by providing stipends for graduate teaching assistants in those institutions which cannot afford to hire regular instructors to offer Korean language courses. We have just completed the first cycle of evaluation and, in the 2007 Newsletter, we will hear from Professor Hyo Sang Lee, the chair of the selection committee with a report on this year's awardees. This year's selection committee consisted of the four AATK officers and two board members, as well as Mr. Kyungchul Park, Director of the Korea Foundation in the Washington DC office.

Lastly, we are truly thankful to Professor Hye-Sook Wang for her willingness to continue to serve as the Editor of The Korean Language in America. As the fourth President of the AATK, she implemented the change from conference proceedings to a peer-reviewed post-conference format beginning with volume 10 (2005). It is a singular publication centering exclusively on Korean teaching in the English-speaking world, distributed not only to AATK members but also to libraries and academic programs throughout the U.S. and Canada. An announcement from Professor Wang regarding this publication is also included in this year's Newsletter.

In sum, the past year has been an exciting one with new projects for the AATK, and a challenging year for me personally with a slow learning curve. I doubt we could have come this far without the hard work, active participation and good humor shown by the officers and the fellow members.

With warm regards,

Young-mee Yu Ch

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