Korean proverbs or "sokdam" are ancient nuggets of philosophical knowledge passed down the generations. Most often, they are used by older generations of Korean speakers. Sokdam are interspersed throughout everyday conversation. The use of proverbs to transmit knowledge is common throughout the world, but it is nearly absent from American speech and custom. Korean proverbs reflect the influence of the Buddha and Confucious upon Korean society. Many sokdam are universal truths shared by all cultures.
My favorite sokdam thus far is "shi-jak-i pan-i-da," or "A job begun is already half done." Similar sentiments are expressed in other cultures. For a Korean student learning English, the use of this sokdam is a statement of hope in the future. Few Americans know more than one language. As a tutor of English to Korean students, I feel a duty to learn as much Korean as possible to both defeat the image of "xenophobic Americans" and to express appreciation for the culture of my students. ESOL teachers are world citizens.
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