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Professor Kim Hansaem from the Institution of Language & Information Studies at Yonsei University
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2021-03-09 view count 401
KSIF Newsletter
No. 93 | March 2021

The Era of AI-Based Korean Education

Professor Kim Hansaem from the Institution of Language & Information Studies at Yonsei University


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Professor Kim Hansaem’s Biography

Professor at the Institution of Language & Information Studies of Yonsei University College of Liberal Arts / President of Language Observation Center of the Institution of Language & Information Studies
Kim Hansaem graduated from the Department of Korean Language and Literature at Yonsei University and obtained a master’s degree in Korean Language and Information from the same university. She conducted language policy research related to the Korean language, and focused on information such as the 21st Century Sejong Plan, vocabulary research, neologism research, and development of technical terminology as an academic researcher at the National Institute of Korean Language from 2002 to 2014. She is an expert member of the Subcommittee for Language Resource Management at the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) TC/37 and a member of the Preparation Committee for the International Conference on Computational Linguistics (COLING) 2022. She also served as a member of the Advisory Committee for the KSIF‘s project on the establishment of its AI-Based Korean Language Learning Support Service.

1. Last year, KSIF exhibited a prototype of an AI-based system for practicing conversations in Korean at AI EXPO KOREA 2020, thereby promoting the new Korean language learning support service. What’s your take on the creation of new services such as this, which integrate the latest information technology and Korean language education? The fact that the AI-based Korean conversation practice system was demonstrated at AI EXPO KOREA 2020, rather than an education-related exposition, shows how natural it has become to integrate AI technology and language education in this day and age. Also, it was KSIF that designed and developed this system, which is encouraging in that KSIF is able to exert a positive influence on the Korean language education sector at home and abroad through its global network, while setting the trends in high-tech education.
The terms “AI” and “IT” may not be deeply understood by some people. Those teaching Korean say that they are keenly interested in these technologies but do not know how to approach them. So instead of using those fancy terms, we should think of them broadly as just “computer technology.” We have been using computers quite often in the process of teaching and learning Korean. In the beginning, the concept of computer-assisted language instruction (CALI) was introduced for teachers, but with the focus of teaching and learning switching from teachers to learners, the concept of computer-assisted language learning (CALL) arose. With recent advances in computer-related technology, IT and AI have been introduced to replace computers. CALL helps overcome the limitations of situations whereby one teacher teaches multiple students, and involves the use of computers to provide learning materials that are oriented toward learners. It has become an even more important methodology amid the transition to online education that has been taking place due to COVID-19, and AI technology is being incorporated into language education systems to play the role of a teacher or a native speaker. The AI-based Korean conversation practice system developed by KSIF, in particular, uses AI technology to enable interactions and individualization, which helps to meet the needs of overseas Korean language learners who are unable to obtain tailored education. In the case of English, there have been active discussions regarding such a conversation-oriented education agent since the mid-2000s, but the development of a Korean language conversation system has not occurred in full swing until recently. New services created by combining the latest IT and Korean language education are projected to have a positive impact on Korean language learners at home and abroad, considering that they allow users to experience dialogues in more diverse situations than they would otherwise experience in a class or from conventional learning materials. Learners will be able to review the dialogues after learning them, and improve their skills by identifying problems on their own or based on their speech evaluation results.

2. Korean content, including the movies, “Space Sweepers” and “Sweet Home,” is being readily enjoyed by people worldwide thanks to advances in IT and the widespread use of mobile devices, and is causing a sensation in turn. In response to the growing importance of mobile content, KSIF has developed an app for users to learn business Korean. What kinds of efforts are needed to achieve qualitative growth in Korean language and culture education amid the ceaseless innovations in mobile technology? “Mobile” refers to a mobile computer environment. Mobile phones, tablet PCs, smart watches and so on all fall into the category of “mobile devices.” As mobile devices have undergone advancement, mobile content provided to users via such devices has also evolved. A wide variety of mobile content, from audio and text to images and multimedia, has been developed over the years. Hallyu content, such as movies and dramas, are a type of multimedia. A more contemporary meaning of multimedia is a combination of media that can be searched and processed using a computer and which enables bilateral communication.
Mobile services designed to assist those learning Korean, such as the business Korean learning app developed by KSIF, are good examples of mobile learning content. In addition to these attempts, there is a need to use the latest mobile technology to break down the barriers in Korean language and culture education as a way to apply such innovative mobile technology to such study. A good example would be to incorporate virtual reality (VR) technology into Korean language and cultural education. By designing a VR service whereby users can choose those with whom they wish to converse with in Korean and which particular aspects of Korean culture they want to experience, it will be possible to minimize the temporal and spatial constraints experienced by Korean language learners around the world.
This can promote the qualitative growth of Korean language and cultural education and help learners save money on experiencing the Korean language and culture, thereby lowering the barrier to Korean language education. Technological innovation and educational content that incorporates such innovations have an intricate relationship, and there is a need to actively invest in research on the development of computer-based language education.

3. The classroom setting has changed due to the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic. KSIF also began operating the Online King Sejong Institute last April to offer online classes. What must be done in order to establish the online Korean language and culture education system? The requirements for the establishment of an online Korean language and cultural education system can be broadly divided into requirements that must be met by the KSI headquarters in Korea and KSIs abroad. First, the KSI headquarters must meet the need to provide online education, as direct contact is impossible, and develop educational content in consideration of the advantages of online education, in that it is possible to save and review such educational content and lecture content. In order to supplement the online educational content, there is a need to present training programs and guidelines for teachers to be able to better manage and communicate with their students online. KSIs abroad, on the other hand, must thoroughly examine the physical environment necessary to apply the online Korean language and cultural education system. They must examine the internet infrastructure and the penetration of computer and mobile phones necessary for accessing the online content. They must go beyond checking local infrastructure and inspect the learning environment of individual students in order to formulate strategies to deal with situations in which learners are not well-equipped to access the online content.
There have been changes in educational methods due to COVID-19, but things might return to normal or online education may once again be prevalent in the event of another unforeseeable crisis. In order for the online Korean language and cultural education system to be well-established, there is a need to develop flexible education programs that can be administered either offline or online or both, depending on the situation. To this end, I hope that there are more active discussions regarding blended learning in the future.

4. Please tell us what you expect from us (KSIF) in the future and give us advice. I gave a lecture on the use of Korean corpora in the United States in the mid-2000s. It was about how to use Korean language data that could be searched and retrieved on a computer while teaching and researching the Korean language from the perspective of CALI, which I mentioned earlier. After the lecture, I was able to speak with many people on this topic, and they told me that they envied the fact that Korea had language education brands with global networks, such as the Goethe-Institut Korea and Confucius Institute. Now, we have you (King Sejong Institute) as a Korean language education brand, and the fact that you have achieved consistent growth over the past decade makes me fully support your activities.
KSIF is faithfully fulfilling its role in promoting the Korean language and culture overseas and stimulating foreigners’ interest in Korea by developing and operating educational programs, strengthening the professional competencies of Korean language teachers, and spreading Korean culture. In terms of this aspect, I have no greater expectations, but I’d like to suggest that KSIF dedicate itself to minimizing the numbers of those who may be marginalized in their efforts. By ensuring uniform distribution of KSIs, regionally speaking, localizing education programs in consideration of circumstances that are unique to each KSI, and using IT to allow learners to receive education regardless of situation, it will be possible for even more learners to enjoy the excellent educational system of KSIF. In addition to this, I hope that KSIF offers quality IT-incorporated Korean language education programs so as to trigger people’s interest in Korea, an IT powerhouse, and Korean culture and motivate them to learn Korean.