Essay Writing: A Korean Student's Nightmare Cooking Show from Hell

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Essay writing is an essential skill in academic settings, particularly at international schools and Western universities. That said, it is also often described as a Korean student's worst nightmare. Many Korean students, who are new to the international classroom, feel like they have suddenly entered a cut-throat cooking competition in which they are the only underprepared contestant. Each essay becomes a foreign dish they have never tasted or learned how to prepare. This leaves them scared and insecure about their 'cooking.'  Luckily, The Booksmart Academy is quite aware of the 'cooking' challenges Korean students face and has listed them down below. 

Let us have a look at each of them, as well as what 'cookbooks' and cooking workshops the Booksmart Academy can offer to help Korean students put their best dishes forward. (To sign up for our courses, contact us here)

What challenges do students face?

While there are a multitude of tiny obstacles Korean students face in the essay writing process, we have listed three of the biggest ones below.

1. The Language barrier

As expected, the language barrier poses a significant obstacle. English is not the native language for most Korean students, and they may face difficulties in expressing their thoughts and ideas in a coherent and nuanced manner. Writing in a foreign language requires a strong sense of vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure. Students without this sense are perpetually unsure of the correctness of their own writing. For Korean students, who do not like making mistakes, this can be a very scary idea. To put it into cooking terms, English essay writing is like learning how to cook a foreign dish for someone without any knowledge of what it is supposed to taste like.

2. No instructions

Cultural differences concerning learning outcomes also play a role. Korean educational systems often emphasize rote memorization and the mastery of specific formulas or patterns. In contrast, Western essay writing values critical thinking, analysis, and the ability to construct a logical argument with the information available. Korean students may struggle to adapt to this different approach, as it requires them to think independently and express their own opinions. To use our cooking analogy to explain this hurdle, the Korean educational system is like a full-fledged cooking workshop with a chef who tells you what recipe to make. Students can then follow that recipe and turn all the readily-available ingredients into the perfect dish. By contrast, the Western education system is more like a cooking show than a workshop. Contestants are put in the spotlight and then given only a general idea of the materials they should use without any directions on what dishes they are supposed to be making. Such a challenge would make any new chef start to sweat.

3. Independent research (or data mining)

Where textbooks and required reading in Korean schools offer students safety and dependability, essay writing in the Western education system offers no such safety net. Instead, students are required to ‘mine’ their own ‘data’,  using the many search engines and websites the internet has to offer as a source of information in their essays. This can terrify Korean students who are used to being given the information they need. To make things even worse, much of the data mining that students are required to do will be made ten times harder by the language barrier and general unfamiliarity with English research tools. In our cooking analogy, students who are already required to cook a dish they have never made or heard of now have to go buy their own materials and ingredients?! Without even knowing where to find them and how to judge their quality? What a nightmare.

How can we help?

To help Korean students overcome these challenges, it is essential to provide them with targeted support and resources, which the Booksmart Academy offers. 

1. English expertise

In most of our Booksmart courses, students are repeatedly exposed to and guided through English grammar and vocabulary by expert English teachers. In addition, our essay writing course focuses on common language issues Korean students run into, such as article usage, tense consistency, and Konglish. Our teachers keep careful track of a student’s development and challenges, which gives students the feedback they need to improve their craft. Think of it as having your personal taster who lets you know if your dish needs more salt. 

2. Practice makes perfect

Many of our Booksmart courses (specifically our reading and writing courses) give students the chance to not only practice English essay writing in a safe environment but also provide them with reading and video assignments that teach them about the relevant culture, history, and background that the English language is used in and shaped by. Whether students stick with us for a few months or a few years, many of them are surprised when we tell them they have written several books worth of essays while under our care. As for their reading skills, we are called the Booksmart Academy for a reason. And if we were called Cooksmart, our students would have a library full of cookbooks to consult from in their heads.

3. Finding what you need

As for the independent online research English essay writing requires, our Booksmart Academy also has our students covered. In class, students are introduced to several online search engines, tools, and search words that make finding the information they are looking for much easier to access. In addition, we also teach students to assess the materials they find, ensuring that they only cook with the best materials available.

In a nutshell

Long story short, the Booksmart Academy has teachers and courses available to help students who are new to English essay writing. It is our goal to help students turn essay writing from what feels like cooking food on a nightmare cooking show from hell into a relaxed time in the kitchen they can look forward to. 

Interested in learning more? Contact us here for more details on a tailor-made course that best fits your needs.

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