4 Yerim(s) and Language Development

Yerim Lee

‘How many identities do you have?’

‘Do those identities you have help you to improve your language proficiency?’

These are the questions that came to my mind from discussions in previous classes. I have 4 Yerim(s) in me: Korean Yerim for my family and friends who speak Korean, Korean language tester Yerim at work, international student Yerim at McGill, and Yerim who is a French speaking citizen in Montreal. I think each Yerim contributes to my language proficiency, so I’d like to talk about the relationship between my different identities and language improvement. Especially, among 4 different identities mentioned above, I think 2 identities, Korean language tester Yerim at work and French speaking citizen Yerim, affect Korean and French development these days.

Currently I am working as a Korean language tester at a video game company. My main duty at work is to translate English text strings into Korean and to check if translated strings are appropriate, user-friendly and error-free in-game. Since I work based on a project, and usually there is only one Korean language tester in each project, I feel immensely responsible regarding Korean language for the project I’m working on. In addition to that, as I see myself as a representative of Korean users for each game, it is very crucial for me to understand the game I’m working on and use proper and good Korean language. Thus, because of this identity I build up as a Korean language tester who represents all the Korean users, I am trying hard to use correct Korean language as much as possible not only during the time at work but also when I speak Korean casually. Furthermore, I found myself trying to learn more Korean grammar and improve the way to deliver expressions in appropriate ways so as to have better language proficiency to become a competent Korean language tester. Therefore, I think my identity as a Korean language tester at work is helping me improve my Korean proficiency.

Secondly, I can identify myself as a Montreal citizen who speaks French, and I believe this plays a positive role in my French improvement. Unlike at school, I sometimes feel pressure that I must speak French outside school. This pressure regarding speaking French and my identity as a Montreal citizen somehow led me to pretend and behave as if I speak good French even though I can only speak a basic level of French. Wearing this French speaking citizen mask on, I often tried to speak French at stores, restaurants, or even in the metro just to say ‘Excusez-moi’. Interestingly, I found out that I do speak French when I am alone outside school. But whenever I am with my friends who speak English or Korean, I wear my other masks on, such as international student Yerim or Korean Yerim, thus I set aside my identity of French speaking Yerim, and do not feel any need to speak French. Still, as with Korean language tester Yerim identity, I could feel my French has improved even without any more instruction. However, I am not sure if this improvement is because of an immersed environment of French in Montreal or because of my French speaking citizen identity.

Thus, I’m posing a question here.

Do you think your various identities affect your language proficiency in a positive way?

And if you think so, why is that?

2 thoughts on “4 Yerim(s) and Language Development”

  1. Hello Yerim,

    Thank you for your post. In response to your question, different identities impact my language proficiency both positively and negatively.

    As mentioned previously in my second post, I regard myself as a Shanxier in my province, but I do not think this identity benefits my Shanxi dialect learning process. I am still not able to speak Shanxi dialect because of some educational issues, though my listening proficiency in Shanxi dialect is as good as native Shanxiers. Sometimes, I really feel isolated. (In China, dialects may vary from one province to another, but the writing system is the same. Hence, I only talk about the speaking and listening proficiency in Shanxi dialect).

    As an undergraduate student majoring in Business English 16 months ago and an international student at McGill now, I believe that these two identities have a positive influence on my English proficiency. These two identities have been really encouraging me to learn English better, therefore I have been working very hard in order to improve it. Speaking fluent English and writing error-free English enable me to communicate with other English speakers more effectively and efficiently. Furthermore, my English proficiency also offers me many opportunities to have a knowledge of different cultures (e.g., Canadian culture, American culture, etc.). I love these two identities.

    Colin (comment 5)


  2. Hello Yerim,
    I agree with Colin, I think my various identities are both positive and negative on my language proficiency. I’ve lived in Quebec my whole life, yet my first language was neither French nor English. My first language was Danish, this definitely impacted my identities living in Quebec. I learned English very young, so it is almost like a mother tongue to me. Due to the fact that no one spoke danish in Quebec, I hid this part of my identity, and sadly it suffered greatly because of it.
    I eventually learned french as well, but that part of my identity never took off because as I was learning it, there were many negative feelings towards french from those around me, and for a long time my french identity was hidden as well. Eventually, I learned to accept these parts of my identity and nurture them and as I felt more comfortable with the identities my language proficiency grew. I think this was because I got more confident, the more at ease I felt with that part of my identity. I don’t know if that’s the real scientific reason but it’s my hypothesis.


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