[Hello Hangeul] Welding book first in vocational Korean series for foreign labor
A plethora of textbooks and learning materials cater to Korean language learners from diverse backgrounds. But, there’s a significant gap for a particular type of learners whose grasp of work-related Korean is crucial not only for quality control and skills development but also for their own safety.
In August, a groundbreaking work was released to fill the void of job-related technical books for non-Korean native speakers in welding. Welding, essential for various manufacturing processes such as shipbuilding, is among a number of labor-intensive jobs that Koreans are less inclined to take up.
“Vocational Korean for Welding” is the result of collaborative efforts led by professor Son Hye-jin from the Department of Global Convergence Welfare, and professor Lee Mi-sun from the Hotel Aviation Tourism division at Seojeong University in Yangju City, Gyeonggi Province, a vocational training university with over 3,000 international students.
Professors Son and Lee serve as director and vice director respectively at the university’s Korean Language for Specific Purposes Research Center. Its aim is to bolster Korean language education and research in specific vocational and academic contexts for foreign nationals.
Their decision to craft an informative guide stems from recognizing the significance of fostering a conducive work environment for migrant workers grappling with the Korean language.
Yet, the effort was not to be concluded as a one-time project, they said. It rather heralded the beginning of a series of Korean books designed to provide practical, linguistic assistance for foreign nationals in the workplace.
Prior to the issuance of the welding guide, there had been a Korean language textbook tailored for international students in the tourism industry.
"However, the welding guide is the first book specifically designed for Korean language use in field work," Son explained in an interview with The Korea Herald. "We were prompted by requests from shipyard managers who were witnessing the linguistic struggles of their foreign national workers with specific terms and the processes of welding."
Driven by the pressing need for enhanced communication and work efficiency in shipyards, the professors embarked on an unprecedented project to develop a comprehensive Korean language guide.
However, the process of creating this book was a taxing and time-consuming endeavor, as it required meticulous research and the compilation of complex and detailed field-centric information.
“The book took almost two years to complete,” said Lee, who was mostly in charge of writing the book. The whole process encompassed planning, writing, illustration and editorial oversight.
“Illustration was particularly time-consuming as every piece of equipment and action had to be depicted with the utmost precision,” Lee elaborated. Moreover, given the book's specialized content, editorial supervision, which was handled by a Korean language institute professor, proved to be a demanding task, she added.
Comprising 15 chapters dedicated to welding techniques and five chapters focused on workplace safety, the welding book provides a comprehensive curriculum enriched with image-based learning. The book also comes with a workbook for self-assessment and testing knowledge.