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  • USC Language Academy Serves Korean Students

    by Anita Reetz

    The University of Southern California’s (USC) Language Academy in Los Angeles recently announced a two-year contract with to create a joint program to develop a full set of English language study materials for online instruction.

    Samuel Lee, the director and founder of the six-year old Language Academy at USC, was approached by Michael Pi, Chief Operating Officer, and Chong Kim, Chief Financial Officer, of The Korean businessmen cum dot com venture capitalists were seeking an “academic partner” and were interested in adapting the Academy’s curriculum and taping lectures for web broadcast.

    However, Lee explained, “You can’t videotape teachers to broadcast an hour-long lecture. And you can’t use standard textbooks because of copyright issues.” Instead, the new partners agreed to put their heads together to create all new, interactive instructional materials with the pizzazz needed to attract Asian teenagers raised on Nintendo and Sony PlayStation.

    The Academy is assembling a development team that includes its own faculty, newly hired materials writers as well as technology liaisons from The Language Academy will be responsible for the structure and content of the materials and the staged curriculum that will be developed over two years. will provide technical support and the “architectural design” of the online materials. Online courses for college students and adults will be prepared first, with K-6 and middle school and high school courses following, and finally graduate courses leading to a certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language.

    Lee envisions that the format will also offer “brick and mortar” facilities in Seoul where students who aren’t connected to the Internet at home can go for interactive online sessions with conversation partners at the USC campus. “Of course there will also be pre-recorded segments or lectures, pre-packaged but interactive exercises, tutoring and quizzes,” he said. And homework? “The whole thing is homework,” Lee admitted, then added, “But how many students would be attracted to enroll in an online program called”

    The initial market is expected to be high school and college students with academic goals requiring English—those who are planning study abroad or use English in their future work. Professionals in the Pacific Rim countries may also be drawn to business English courses.

    Once the college-age materials come online this spring, the Academy will begin to prepare kids’ programs. English is now taught at elementary schools in Korea, Japan and Taiwan, and the online materials will arrive at an opportune time. “Korea is flirting with the idea of making English its second language. We need to be ready for an ever-increasing expansion of the market,” said Lee.

    Mr. Lee can be reached at Anita Reetz is a faculty member at USC Langauge Academy.

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