Wednesday, May 13, 2015

한국어 and PowerPoint presentations

This semester, aside from 20.109, I've been enrolled in KOR104, the second-level Korean class offered by Wellesley professors specifically to MIT students. As a result, I get to cross-register at Wellesley, complete with an email address, but without the hassle of actually having to commute to Wellesley to take the course. As with any new language, the original feeling of total helplessness makes one think about how exactly to optimize what to say.

It's a little fitting that our final communication assignment for Korean is due the same day that the final major 20.109 assignment is due. In the first case, we're the clueless ones attempting to sound halfway intelligent in front of our linguistic superior as we chat about the weather and try our best to make (terrible) Korean puns (the word 배 means stomach, pear, and boat. There's got to be something funny to say about that). In the second case, we're the ones with more background knowledge (hopefully) trying to ensure that those without it are sufficiently engaged and informed to fund our proposal. Because this second assignment is in my native language, I need to be extra careful in the second case that my mastery of English doesn't cloud the way I describe things. At least in Korean, it's absolutely impossible to get confused by anything I'm saying. "I sometimes get tired when I ride my bike. I like Korean food, especially Bibimbap."

The intended audience for the Module 3 Research Proposal is a mixture of half experts and half intelligent generalists. In an exaggerated sense, this means that during our presentation, experts will be ready to shoot down the slightest inaccuracies, while intelligent generalists will be continually asking what exactly that piece of lingo means and why they should care. And we'll only have twelve minutes to make everyone happy. It's tough to be accurate but not long winded, and it's tough to explain the very basics while also being specific. But a combination of shunting information to auxiliary slides and simplifying explanations a lot hopefully allowed my partner and me to make things clear enough, but specific enough. Here's hoping.

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