Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Inside Korean culture: Aegyo

[Source: Seoulistic/Youtube]

Aegyo is, as the video below explains, the act of being cute (to get something you want). I came across this while gathering materials for a lesson on talking about Korean culture in English. The HS grade 1 textbook includes a long section on aspects of Korean culture and I thought I'd expand on it. As aegyo's an integral part of young Korean girls' speech, it seemed a natural fit for the class: Everyone knows what it is, what it does, and what it looks like, but few knew how to explain it in English. Until now. 

I've long known about aegyo though various sites about Korea and have even done some of the expressions in class before. It never fails to excite the students! Evidently the sight of a grown man acting like a teenaged/twenty-something girl is simultaneously hilarious and wrong to them. No matter, I do it anyway because aegyo's hilariously childish. The boys may loathe it and the girls may laugh self-consciously, but the boys usually fall for it anyway. Aegyo's everywhere around here. 

For the class, I brought up the subject and passed out the Y-chart I linked below. I asked the students to consider what aegyo looks like, sounds like, and what it can be defined as. We discussed the subject for a few minutes to get them thinking before I showed the video. After the video finished, we talked some more about what they saw and whether they agreed with it. Doing so brought out some of the students out of their self-imposed shells and we had fun talking about aegyo. From there, we continued on with discussing other aspects of Korea. The lessons have been good so far, but the more I think about it, they can get better. It may be better to give the students some time to pair up and get some ideas down before talking to the rest of the class. I'll try that one today and see how it goes.

Until next time...

The picture of the chalkboard features notes from one of the classes and includes a drawing of what aegyo can look like. The girl who drew it employs the technique daily, as it happens. 

Mimi drew the picture. It's a variation on one she'd drawn in class before.


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