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AAAS professor to direct language program in Korea

By : Erin Owens

Sungdai Cho, a professor in the Asian and Asian-American Studies Department, will spend the summer in his native country of Korea, directing a summer Korean language program.

Cho, associate professor of Korean and linguistics, has been appointed director of the Korean Summer Institute in Critical Language Scholarship Program by the U.S. Department of State  and the University of Pennsylvania. The program offers intensive summer language institutes abroad in 11 critical-need foreign languages.

According to Cho, who has been teaching at Binghamton since 2000, speaking English and learning Korean — and vice versa — is a difficult task.

“That was one of my motivations to study linguistics,” he said. “I wanted to understand why it is so difficult.”

Cho moved from Korea to the United States in 1980 as a graduate student. He said he is only able to go back and visit Korea once every other year, so he is excited at the opportunity to return for the summer.

“Whenever I go back to Korea things are changing so quickly,” he said.

The Korean language program lasts eight weeks, running from June 22 to Aug. 15. The American students will spend Monday through Friday each week receiving language instruction, and will have a cultural experience each Saturday. On Wednesdays there will be a speaker, usually a politician, so that students can learn more about politics in Korea.

“Learning Korean in Korea is the best way,” Cho said. “There are limitations learning a language in the U.S.”

Out of around 500 students who applied, 35 were chosen for the Korean language program. The students come from all around the United States, and about half are graduate students, half undergraduate students. 

As director of the program, Cho helped choose which students were accepted. Cho said some Binghamton University students did apply, but none were selected for the program. He would like to see an increase in Binghamton students’ involvement in the program, and hopes that his role as director will help.

“I eventually want to set up Binghamton as one of the national centers for Korean studies programs,” Cho said. “This can be a way for me to start it.”

Binghamton’s Asian and Asian-American Studies Department was created last year, and Cho has high hopes for it.

“Our department is growing. Our faculty is top-notch.  It is very promising,” he said.  “I hope it will to soon be one of the leading departments among public universities in the U.S.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08