I have made a Korean friend who will leave for the States in December to go to university. First, he will spend one year attending a language school so that he will be able to speak English more fluently, then he will attend university. We hang out a lot just doing normal things and his English is good enough that he can communicate his thoughts well and I can figure out what he is saying. Sometimes, he becomes confused if I accidentally use some collocation or something, though I do try to speak with as much simplicity as possible. He is super interested in American culture and wants so badly to be able to speak well.
So, I got this idea that maybe he and I could read a book together and as we read, he could underline things that he doesn't understand. I just thought it would be a good platform for some new and different conversation and could be a good way to learn about American culture. Does this make sense? What do you think? Any book suggestions?
It's good to hear that you're making Korean friends and helping them out in a normal, non-scholastic/private medium.
I have spent years around Koreans who are not perfect in English and one thing that I know for sure is that I don't ever change the way I speak when we are in a non-classroom situation. That means that I never adjust my speed, vocab and use of idioms for low-level speakers. There are way too many crutches in place in Korean English education and I don't want to dumb anything down. In fact, I sometimes even ramp-up the level of humor and sarcasm just to expose them to what I consider the trickiest part of learning and comprehending another language.
Your friend is getting ready to move to an English-speaking country. He's going to be surrounded by people who are NOT his teacher just like you are not his official teacher. Confidence is a huge part of learning a language and if he is given an artificial glimpse into how English is practically used, then you are actually putting him at a disadvantage.
Part of my job is to interview potential Korean instructors. Before I actually interview them, I make sure to check their resume pretty closely. I'm not looking for TOEIC scores or SKY schools. What I'm interested in is what city they lived/studied in while abroad. If I see Vancouver, LA, San Diego, New York, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Sydney or Melbourne, they immediately get lower marks from me. (Vancouver is the worst though.) These cities are Korean hubs of English education abroad. Parents drop big bucks on this endeavour as students swarm the schools and language institutes to learn English. Yet once class is over and natural English communication can commence, their parents pick them up and bring them to Korean church/restaurants/study groups. The older students group together with other Koreans and together they all speak Korean, think Korean, eat Korean and live Korean. This is useless for them. Simple being around English doesn't cut it.
Make sure your friend really tries to break free from this. Sadly, it's not that easy. If he's in one of these Korean hubs, then the population there is really going to work on him. They'll try to suck him into their Korean-only world and if he fights back, he can expect to get some harsh treatment from the community. My advice is go anywhere were there aren't many Koreans.
Next, I think that reading a book is a fine idea, but books tend to get a little long and people can lose interest quick. If you do choose a book, maybe it should be a best seller or a storyline that he's familiar with. I'd also suggest news articles, blogs, magazines and even short stories. My biggest goal is to find something that is relatable to students. They stay interested much longer.
In the end, a lot of adult students believe that studying with a teacher or getting some solid exposure (like reading a book with you or chatting) will greatly improve their skills quickly, but that's just not true as those of who are studying Korean understand. He's going to have to diversify his focus and work on every aspect of the language ON HIS OWN on top of with his teachers and non-Korean friends.
Anyone have any book suggestions or anything else they would like to add?