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Professor Q, Communicating in English for OCW (Professor Kyouhoon Han, UST-KRIBB Campus, Nanobiotechnology and Bioinformatics Major)

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  • Registration Date : 2015-12-29




The consistent theme of Professor Kyouhoon Han‘s English lecture in Open Course Ware (OCW), which began in 2014, has been fun and care rather than use of English. The interesting lectures that he himself feels funny and his care for students as a senior researcher who has walked the same path as theirs are giving students of various nationality a wider window of communication, something more than an English lecture. Professor Han, who talks about the reason that he leads the class of "English for scientist in global era" irrelevant to his major, gives off the heavy air of enthusiasm and responsibility. When you UST OCW - humanities - others in the bottom right section on UST webpage, you can watch the video clips from his lecture.





What had you take responsibility for the course?

I am leading a general education lecture "English for scientist in global era" that's nothing to do with my major. This is not my first time to cover this lecture. I have heard a couple of times that it is quite helpful to students, so I thought I could open the class to more students via OCW, that's why I began to provide the video lectures. When I was young, English is another difficulty for me besides the research itself. Exaggeratingly, I believe if English was my mother tongue, I would yielded better results than now as a researcher and been more recognized by about 50 or more. I thought that current students were much less struggling with English than me, but actually students from Korea or other non-English speaking countries are still in dire predicament caused by English. So, I thought I should teach them what I've learned while I served as scientist, particularly presentation skills and everyday English.



What is the object of the lecture and how do you lead the class?

I don't ask students to speak as native speakers, but to speak in a level that's acceptable to most of the audiences. In other words, the goal is to teach English presentation skill. The audiences tend to underestimate a clumsy presenter's research result. I advise my students with jokes, "Your tongue and your brain are going to go into different direction. But don't be too much scared when you make your presentation." What is covered in the lecture is changing slightly every semester. The half of the 20 attendees are Korean, and the rest are foreign students. When I ask questions, only foreign students answer. So I try to know students' name and look by heart and give questions calling each of their name. For example, I ask "Inyeong, what do you think?" As the one hour lecture is far short to deal with all what I want to teach, I give them many assignments, and most of them are writing in English. I let them make sentences using key vocabularies or phrases covered in the class. For better English presentation skill, I make them presentations more than twice a semester and recommend them to listen to their voice record from the presentation rehearsals. And the evaluation of the presentation is made by students in accordance with criteria set up on our own standard. After the class, I give the presenter the evaluation table including all the students' opinion to help him or her find out what to improve. All the process is recorded in video clip and unloaded on OCW website.







You have lived in US. Do you have any memorable episode?

I have a few. But the most memorable one happened with regard to the nuance of English. With my doctoral course coming to an end, I applied for a post-doc researcher position in a renowned government research institute of US. And a professor there, maybe getting interested in my application, called me directly, which was so unexpected to me. At that time, even after I lived there for more than three to four years, my English was not fluent enough to talk on the phone, without meeting face to face. The caller introduced himself on the phone. The answer that I gave back was “Oh, I heard about you a lot!” But that's inappropriate expression. If it is in Korean, we may use such an expression to an elder person in an exchange of courtesy, but when considering the nuance of English, that's a phrase that only the professor over the phone could talk to me. In Korean, it is something like "Boy, I heard about you a lot that you are smart and good at work." Anyway, I failed to get a job in the institute, and I assumed I missed the chance because of those improper words. Or maybe there were some other reasons (laughs).


How do you get along with students, and when do you feel rewarding?

We're having unreserved relationship. Pronunciation of "Kyou," the last letter of my name,  is not easy for foreign students, so they call me "Professor Q." My English is not good enough. But in some sense, that' why I can understand their difficulties with English more than native speaker instructors. For giving helps to students, I have my lectures recorded in video files to be shared with students outside the class, and what was wrong in the lecture would be corrected in next class. As I have many foreign students, sometimes I counsel in their research or private life in Korea. Probably owing to such exchanges, the Vietnamese students in my class invited me to a dinner in their home country's Teacher's Day a few days ago. In addition, once I said, "I go nuts about nuts" in the class to show the expressions that we use to mean we like something very much. A student kept it in his mind and later gave me nuts as a gift. The dinner was so touching, and more exciting was that someone attentively bore in mind what I've taught. The most prestigious praise that I've received was what a student said to me, "I feel so rewarding about my four years' college life because I can attend your class."





Lastly, how's you day-to-day life, and do you have any plan for future?

I have just a normal life, excepting that I try to walk or ride bicycle to keep in shape. The regulation of the school allows me two to three years more as a professor to the end of my tenure, but I plan to extend my research period about 10 years more. I have focused on "unstructured protein" research for about 20 years, and what if I do 10 years more to make it 30 years? Would I be a Nobel Prize nominee (laughs)? I just want to leave an example for my junior researchers as a senior who have challenged constantly to it.