Busan officials hone English skills for World Expo 2030

Busan Mayor Park Heong-joon speaks during a presentation promoting the city’s bid to host World Expo 2030 at the Bureau International des Expositions’ headquarters in Paris, June 19. Courtesy of Busan Metropolitan Government

Mayor, spokesperson, district head share how they are digging the language

By Ko Dong-hwan

Busan officials hone English skills for World Expo 2030

Not being fluent in English may not mean the end of the world. But it can be embarrassing for those who represent the city with an unprecedented bid to host an international mega-event within eight years.

Concerns of Busan leaders betting on becoming the host city of the 2030 World’s Fair in Paris next year.
They rolled up their sleeves to promote their bids last year after completing two preliminary rounds of self-promotion presentations to more than 160 member states of the Bureau International des Expositions.

The southern port city is competing with rival Saudi Arabian city Riyadh, which launched the campaign almost a year ago.

Both cities have decided to host this event, and both cities believe that there is potential for significant economic benefits, and some high-ranking government officials in Busan have challenged more personally. Their common goal is as simple as it is difficult to achieve.

You will be able to speak English more fluently and encourage other city officials and the general public to do the same. Busan Mayor Park Tosho is an ambitious Daredevil. He said Busan is more global than expected as he has ruled more than 3.3 million southeastern coastal metropolises after he was re-elected as mayor in the local elections on June 1, this year.

“I meet people from abroad at least once a day, usually people here for investment relationships or envoys from other countries,” Park, 62, told The Korea Times. With one of the city’s greatest goals being to make Busan an ideal educational center for English learners, the mayor, who has never studied or lived abroad, does not feel embarrassed by his poor language skills. I realized that I had to do something like that. “I didn’t want to use my age as an excuse anymore.”

Busan Metropolitan City spokesperson Na Yun-bin talks to journalists in a press room at city hall, November 2021. Courtesy of the Busan Metropolitan Government

Since the end of last year, Park has been waking up early in the morning to video chat with a native English teacher via a smartphone app.

“Initially, I didn’t reveal it to my leader as Mayor of Busan. When I did it later, he was surprised. He also said he was proud to be my teacher.”

Park said talking to foreigners through an interpreter lacks a sense of “intimacy.” “I want to express my motivation and passion to everyone who speaks English. They also like it when talking directly without an interpreter. She talks to three Filipino teachers

“Someday I’ll go abroad to test English,” Na told The Korea Times. “I was excited to learn that the mayor was also studying English personally.”

Some city officials have already proved that their efforts are not a lie. .. Kim Byung-ki, Deputy Director of Busanjin-gu, the city’s central district, and senior policymaker specializing in smart cities and blockchain technology, is one of the busiest public speakers in the city government.

His qualifications attracted attention by giving presentations in English to foreigners on various occasions about how cities implement the concept of smart cities. But before he reached his current level of English, the 50-year-old experienced countless self-tortures and despair.

“I discovered his talent for reading and writing in English in high school,” Kim told The Korea Times. “But my listening and speaking skills were hopeless.”

He felt pressured and challenged while studying at the state-run Korean Development Institute and later at Syracuse Maxwell School in the United States. did. After working at the Korean Embassy in Singapore for more than two years, my English ability did not catch up as expected and I was lagging behind the children who came to Singapore with me. He almost gave up the language at that time.

Kim Byoung-ki, vice-head of Busanjin District, the central district of Busan / Courtesy of Jin District Office

But when he got back to Busan and headed the city government`s bureau in charge of new growth industries in 2017, he was unwillingly tasked with giving English presentations for public events.

After catering all by himself to the African Development Bank Forum held in the city in 2018, to public officials from Southeast Asian countries in a video conference, and being interviewed by the American TV network CNBC, he found his confidence in English slowly getting better.

He still remembers nerve-wracking moments ahead of showing up in front of a crowd during a large-scale Smart City summit in Washington, D.C. in 2019, as one of the speakers for a panel discussion. He at first tried to give up the opportunity given after the city government granted him time to study abroad at the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute.

But his superior at the school urged him to stick to the chance, using what he called, “a typical American pep talk.”
“I practiced for the big day with an old American friend of mine who helped me memorize a list of possible questions from the audience that ran for 50 pages,” said Kim. “I read it out loud.

Kim is improving his English by reading aloud the script of the English news report from the Korean English TV station Arirang TV and the article in Korea Times.

Kim Believes that Metaverse may be the key to helping young students in Busan learn English better by exposing young students in other countries more often. He does such a hypothetical study. Believes that it should be used at the city government level to further advance the initiative.

“Busan Metropolitan City and the City Ministry of Education may form partnerships with many American schools, which As a result, Korean students may meet many native teachers through Avatar, “Kim suggested.

He also envisioned the use of virtual reality (VR) devices that could allow students to talk to people from other countries.

“If this practice continues for about 10 years, there will be many people in Busan who can speak the language comfortably. I do not agree that Busan follows the same path as Singapore and Hong Kong, where English is. It was declared as a national language alongside Chinese, “he said.


Credit/Source : https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2022/07/281_333080.html


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