George Mason University vertical bar Valuing Written Accents: Non-Native Writers in the U.S. Academy

photo of YoonProfile: Yoon

Country: South Korea
First Language: Korean
Education: Communication

If teacher ask me to give some specific idea, and then write it down and do some research and make a paper – that is easy.  But more creative things, like you make a campaign so you analyze how you are going to do your campaign, that kind of thing is hard.  I did a class last year and he asked me to make a specific campaign; who is the target audience, and how you are going to target your audience and what kind of strategy you are going to do your campaign – that was really hard.  For foreign students very specific form is more easier, so “just do this, do this, do the research of this” is really easier.  But more creative things, you can make your own paper, make it creative, and there is no specific way, so you have to create your own campaign, your own paper.  But some American students love this because they more freely express their knowledge and writing skills.  For foreign students it’s awkward; question is very hard to figure out.

~On plagiarism:
My friend and I took the same class together and we all the time study together.  The professor didn’t even tell her just “you have to go there, you have to talk to the dean because you are against the honor code.”  So she was surprised, and they said “did you copy there any sources?”  But she said she got used to it because Korea if you cite it without citation, it’s not that big deal because all the colleges didn’t do it.  So they don’t really care about plagiarism; they write it like their own words even though they cite from other people.  So we didn’t take that seriously, so she went to the honor code, and the dean said this is your first time and I think she was okay because he gives her one more chance I think.  But she said she totally didn’t know that is big issue at United States college, but now we know.  We didn’t even mention it.  In America we mention, we can see it that honor code thing in the syllabus at the very beginning of the class.  In Korea, they don’t even mention it on the syllabus, so that means the professor doesn’t really care.

Since Journalism major is very connected to the politics, there is a lot of issues that deal with politics, or cultural background, or some historical issues.  So if I don’t know when, like African American people get freedom, or how they get it, or a woman’s right in United States or gay and lesbian movement.  I don’t know when they start or how they developed.  I am taking a Woman and Media class right now.  We learn so many women impact media areas.  I don’t know any; a teacher gave me the list of the women to pick one and do a presentation at the end of the semester.  I don’t know any of the names on the paper so I look up the internet and search each different people and I found one people I think is interesting.  That is the hard thing, even what they did during their life, I don’t know anything of American historical issue.

I don’t want to mention about the professor, but honestly there was one professor, she was white and I got very stereotype about the white female professor because I see true discrimination because she treat me like really loser and even though I don’t get some terms she use in the class, so I ask her, but she says “you bother the class and your writing is behind the line so you can’t really catch up the class.” So I don’t know how to figure that out.
I think American people are more straightforward.  Even in the classroom, somebody present in the classroom they said “oh this is not good, this isn’t really good.”  But in Korea, they don’t really mention exactly what they think honestly, so even if not that good, but they say “oh you did a good job.”  They all the time pointing the good thing, they don’t want to mention the bad thing, even though they think it in their mind.  The American people are more directly focused on “I think this is this” so they ended up their conclusion too.  But in Korea, they don’t directly mention; it is a cultural thing, even in the personal relationship, they don’t directly say “I don’t like you because…” but American people are more honest.  Korean people, even boyfriend and girlfriend, they don’t mention what they think in honest, so at the end of relationship they say “I don’t like this, this, this…”

I think American writing is easier to read.  I am taking a Korean literature class, and a couple of American friends, after they read and have time to discuss in the class, the American students say “oh I don’t get the point,” because Koreans they are not straightforward, so they put so many metaphor; like the peppermint, American people just pass it, but Koreans put the meanings on it, that is friendship.  Or peppermint is this meaning, it symbolizes something.

~On difficulty adjusting to the U.S. academy:
The first thing in Korean type of writing is we have to write the main thesis or main sentence at the end of the writing.  So the first thing we have to do is give something which is related to the main theme of the paper.  So for example, women have to get freedom, so we have to put the examples first.  And people think about the women’s freedom is and how it is developed and at the end of the paper we have to write my thesis of the paper.  But in America, you guys put the thesis sentence at the beginning of the paper so I put totally different style of the paper and the professor say “where are you from, how you get into the college?”  So I was crying almost everyday and all the time I visit the professor’s rooms and some good professors advise me all the time and tips like talk to native Americans or you need to get some advice from American friends or stop by the writing center.  But some professors just gave me D’s.  So I failed maybe two major courses.

I have been studying for TOEFL for a year before I come to the United States, so I learned pretty much of terms, but I don’t know where I should put this word.  I don’t know, and grammar too.  In terms of describe something, I don’t know there are several words.  Even though I know a lot of words and I know what that means, but I don’t know where I should put in the sentence.