‘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?