Your Challenges

Hi folks.

Here’s a list of challenges for you to complete this semester. I only filled in the information for the first challenge for now, but will fill out the others in the next couple of days. (You won’t need those instructions for a week or so anyway.)

But first, the basic rules:

1. You may only submit one challenge during  a two-week period. That is: if you submit a challenge on Friday, March 16th, you cannot submit the next challenge until Friday, March 30. I will make an effort to tell you within a week whether your challenge is acceptable or not. Please be patient… it may take longer the later into semester we get, as students tend to put things off until the last minute. There are no exceptions to rule #1. NONE. Don’t ask.

2. All written proof of challenges must be submitted in hard copy. DO NOT EMAIL WRITTEN PROOF OF CHALLENGES TO ME. I will delete the file and count it as not submitted. No exceptions.

3. For video proof of challenges, you will be given a password for the class account. You must upload your video there, and leave it there — no deleting it, ever — in order for credit for the challenge to be awarded to you.

4. For audio files, I will let you know how to submit them to me soon. (I’m still searching for a good service for this purpose.)

5. If you do need to email me content for some reason, you MUST send the homework to the appropriate address — [email protected] and the Subject: line of your email (제목:) must be written following this format:


That is, you must mention the number of the challenge, your full name, and the format of the file you are sending.

If I ask you to submit files to me by email, the ONLY acceptable formats for files are the following:

Video: .AVI

Audio: .MP3 (compressed — not a huge file)

Document: .DOC, .RTF (not DOCX, not HWP)

Other: Please ask me in class

With all that said, remember that, since the challenges are an individual series of course projects, the responsibility is 100% yours to get them all done. This is more a test of time management and willingness to try the tasks, than it is a test of your English. Everyone can do these challenges well enough to complete them… the question is whether you can organize yourself and do the work to get them done.

Challenge #1: Service, Please


You will use a service center telephone service to get the information you would need in order to get service for a piece of technology you own. (A telephone, a toaster oven, an espresso machine, your laptop computer, etc.)


    • Speak only in English.
    • Get information about the service center: location, how to get there, address, and opening/closing hours.
    • Get information on the service you are asking about: how much will it cost, how long might it take?
    • Be polite.


    • Don’t give up the the first service center you call hangs up on you.
    • Don’t switch to Korean if the person demands it. At most, you can tell them you don’t speak English and ask if someone speaks English at the office.


You will record your conversation on the phone with the service center. There are applications for doing this available on most smartphones. If you do not have a smart phone, you can use a VOIP program like Skype to make the phone call on your computer and record it.

However, you must also test whether the instructions are correct. That is: you need to go to the service center — and take a picture of yourself there. If the directions are confusing or you get lost, you will need to call the service center again (recording your second call if possible).

Your proof will include both your photograph of yourself in front of the service center, and your recording of your phone conversation or conversations.

I will let you know how to submit the MP3 to me. The photo can be emailed (following the method I outlined above).

Challenge #2: Look For That Book

Concept: You will interact with an English bookstore employee, in English. Using only English, you will give the employee enough information to help you find a specific book, and you will buy the book.


  • Go to the What The Book shop in Itaewon. (Because the clerks in that store speak English, and will be willing to talk to you in English.)
  • Tell the clerk — politely — that you are looking for a book and can’t remember the title or author. Describe the story in the book clearly enough that the bookstore employee can figure out what book you are looking for.
  • Prepare several books this way. If the clerk cannot find the first book, try a second or third book, until you get the one you need. (Also, the book might not be in stock. You can order the book if you need to do so; your order form and receipt will be acceptable as evidence.)
  • Choose famous books. If you choose a book that nobody knows about, the clerk will not be able to find it for you.
  • Buy the book after the clerk finds it for you.


  • Don’t tell the title of the book (or the name of the author, or the ISBN number of the book) to the bookstore employee. You can give information about the plot or characters, or vague ideas about the author (“He’s Japanese, I think…”) but don’t cheat!
  • Don’t pressure the clerk to find the book. If it’s impossible, it’s impossible; move on to a different book.
  • Don’t forget to buy the book, and don’t forget to get a receipt for the book!


  • You will (sneakily) record your conversation with the bookstore employee. Submit the file to me by email, in MP3 format.
  • You will submit the receipt for your book to me me as proof. Staple the receipt to an A4 sheet with your name on it, and explain what information you gave, and how the clerk did in finding the book you were looking for. If the book had to be ordered, include a copy of your order form as well. (Assuming the clerk gives you an order form.)

Challenge #2 (Old Challenge #3): Ten Questions

Concept: You will carefully use your English to talk to someone who is not comfortable speaking in English, for very basic communication. You will use this in a commercial situation, that is, in a shopping situation outside Seoul. (ie. in Yeokgok, in Kyeonggi, or anywhere else in Korea except in Seoul.)


  • Speak only in English to the clerk in the shop. If necessary, pretend that you don’t understand his or her speech in Korean.
  • Ask the clerk ten simple questions, of the kind a shopper might normally ask: “Do you have a bigger size?”
  • Use simple English that a non-English speaker might understand.
  • Be polite and patient with the clerk, even if she or he is struggling. Encourage the speaker.


  • Don’t do this exercise in a shop full of English speakers. You CANNOT do this exercise in Itaewon.
  • Don’t be rude to the clerk; and likewise, don’t give up too easily if the clerk says, “No English!” to you.
  • Don’t tell the clerk you are doing a school assignment.


  • Your friend will record a video of you, from before you go into the store, then during the interaction with the clerk, until you leave the store. You don’t need to buy anything, but the video will be evidence of your shopping trip. You will upload the video to a Youtube channel I will give the class later.

Challenge #3 (Old Challenge #4): Coffee Talk


You will invite a friend of yours to go for coffee with you; once you are sitting together, you will begin to speak English with your friend — a friend with whom you have never spoken in English before. No matter what, you must keep the English conversation going for at least 20 minutes, starting from the moment your friend first really begins to to speak with you in English.


  • Invite a friend (or family member; someone you’ve never spoken with in English) to coffee. This person should not be someone you know who is fluent in English. Choose someone who might or might not know a lot of English, so that either way the conversation is a surprise!
  • Buy the coffees. (It’s the least you can do, in exchange for torturing the other person!)
  • Start up a conversation, and insist on speaking in English, however you can. Be as encouraging and supportive as you can, but insist on using English for at least 20 minutes.


  • Don’t tell your friend that this is a homework assignment.
  • Don’t switch to Korean for more than two or three words, for example when you need to explain a word to the person.
  • Don’t let the conversation stop before 20 minutes have passed.


  • You will secretly record the conversation. You can use a videocamera (like on a smart phone) or you can use an audio recorder, I don’t care. If you use a video, you will upload it to Youtube. If you use an MP3, you will email it to me. The recording will be one proof of the conversation.
  • The second proof of the conversation will be an interview with your friend or relative, the next day. You will ask them about the experience, and summarize it in a 500-word report typed and printed. You can hand in the report on paper to me in class, or put it in my mailbox in IH341.

Challenge #4 (Old Challenge #5): Touchy Subject


You will start a conversation on a delicate subject with someone who is not Korean, and whom you already know (ie. not a stranger). The subject should be one that you need to be careful about, but your conversation should be polite and respectful.


  • Talk to someone you already know. Don’t approach strangers to do this assignment. Think of non-Korean students or faculty you know at CUK, or friends you have outside of campus.
  • Talk about a sensitive subject. For example, you could ask an African-American or Afro-British friend what it is like to be black in Korea, and whether he or she has experienced racism here. You could ask a Chinese student whether he or she has heard discriminatory remarks about Chinese people in Korea. You could ask a foreign instructor what he or she finds difficult about teaching in Korea, or ask a Japanese person what they think about the political relationship between South Korea and Japan, or ask a Southeast Asian you know what it’s like to live in South Korea.  The subject should be sensitive, and you should encourage the person to speak honestly, despite the probably negative subject.
  • Pay close attention to the person’s reactions, and try to make sure you are sensitive in your words. If the person you’re talking to seems offended, don’t ignore it: ask about it.
  • Be encouraging and supportive to the person you are talking to. Non-Koreans tend to learn not to criticize anything in Korea because they often get bad reactions from some people, but your job is to encourage the person to be honest and to feel safe in talking to you.


  • Don’t let the other person feel uncomfortable. For example, if you say something and they seem unhappy about it, ask why, and try to really communicate about it.
  • Don’t avoid uncomfortable questions. If you want the other person to speak honestly, you need to be honest and trust them too.
  • Don’t forget to treat the person to coffee or a meal, which is a good way to help them feel comfortable in talking with you.
  • Don’t tell them that this assignment is for a class.


  • After the conversation, you will take notes and write a report for me about your feelings and thoughts regarding not only what the other person said, but also your observations about the conversation itself. It should be between 500 -1000 words long. Print the paper and submit it to me in person, or  to my mailbox in IH341. Have the secretary date-stamp the assignment to make the submission date clear.

Challenge #5:

Get Some Help:

You will act lost and try to get help from strangers on the street, in some place in Seoul, using only your English.


  • Ask people for help in English. When they ask whether you speak Korean, you don’t need to lie; you can just pretend not to understand what they’re saying to you. Tell them whatever you like when they ask where you’re from. (“I’m from Botswana!” or “I’m from Brazil!”)
  • Try to look like a tourist. Carry a backback, wear comfortable shoes, and have an English-language map of Seoul, or English guidebook, in in your hands.
  • Be polite and friendly to people who help you, and express your thanks to them.
  • Get help from both men and women — not just one or the other.
  • When people are offering you help in English, forget what you know about Seoul and try to imagine you really are lost. Don’t leave until you’ve gotten proper instructions from five people. You are free to ask questions, guess what people are saying, or even to let them guide you personally where you are going.


  • Don’t get in strange people’s cars.
  • Don’t switch to Korean, even if the person talking to you tries to get you to do so.
  • Don’t give up until five people — including at least one man and one woman — have offered you help, or given you help after you have asked for it.
  • Don’t tell people you’re doing this for homework.


  • You will have a friend nearby who is secretly videotaping your conversation. Make sure your friend isn’t noticed. It would be nice if the audio is audible on the tape, so if possible speak loudly to whoever it talking to you. (You will upload the video to our class’s Youtube account.)
  • You will write a short essay (of no less than 700 words, and no more than 1000 words) discussing your experience, including each case where someone helped you. You must print out your account and hand in a paper copy to me in class, or in my mailbox in IH341.
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