Hands-on English current events activity for January, 1998

Latest update: January 14, 1998

Note: You are welcome to print, copy and use this activity with your students. However, this material is copyrighted, so please don't re-publish it anywhere without permission.

Reading activity:

A Happy New Year in Korea?

To the instructor:
Here is a 5-paragraph story for your students about the current economic problems in Korea. The story is written from the point of view of a "Mr. Park," who is not a real person. We made him up for this story.
After the reading passage you will find a simple vocabulary exercise, and two suggested discussion activities your students might enjoy. Because the reading and the activities are fairly easy, we think your advanced beginners or intermediate students can participate. And because the content of the story is serious, important and interesting, we think that more advanced students can use this as a starting point for more in-depth readings or discussion of these issues.
Happy teaching! --the Editor


A Happy New Year in Korea?

Park Soon-Wu is a young man living in Seoul, Korea. He is married and has two small children. Mr. Park is an engineer at a big company in Seoul. Before he got this job, he studied at a university in the U.S. and got a PhD in engineering. Until recently, Park was earning a very good salary.

Before this year, Korea's economy looked very good. Now Korea has a financial crisis. The banks are in trouble. The companies are in trouble. The government is in trouble. And many people are in trouble because they might lose their jobs.

Mr. Park is lucky. He didn't lose his job, because he has a PhD and the company needs him. But many people in his company lost their jobs, and Mr. Park's salary was cut in half. Now he doesn't earn enough money to live. Seoul is an expensive city to live in. But he and his family are lucky, because his parents can send them some money.

Why does Korea have economic problems? Mr. Park says the Korean people didn't know about the financial problems. The Korean people thought the economy was strong. Now they are surprised and worried about the future.

What does Mr. Park think about the future? He knows there will be many changes in Korea, and it will be difficult for a while. But he has hope that Korea's new president can solve these problems.


Vocabulary exercise

Here are five topics. Look at the list of words from the story below, and decide which topic each word belongs to. Write the word next to the correct topic. When you are finished, add some of your own words to each topic.

1. Money


2. Science


3. Education


4. Politics


5. Family


bank, children, earn, economy, engineer, expensive, financial, government, job, married, parents, PhD, president, salary, study, university.


Interview activity

Have your students work in pairs for this activity. Looking at the reading passage, have them prepare some interview questions for Mr. Park. For example, what's your name, where do you live, what's your occupation, etc. Then with one student taking the role of news reporter and the other taking the role of Mr. Park, have the students conduct an oral interview. Finally, you may want to have some students present their interview to the whole class.

Discussion activity

Discuss the terms "optimistic" and "pessimistic" with your students. These terms refer to how someone feels about the future. If you feel the future will be positive, you are optimistic. If you feel the future will be negative, you are pessimistic about something. Give some examples. Then discuss these questions: Is Mr. Park optimistic or pessimistic about Korea's future? What is your opinion about Korea's future? Are you optimistic or pessimistic about your own future?

Editor's note: I'd be very interested to hear what you and your students thought of this activity! Thank you! We welcome teaching suggestions.--Anna Silliman.

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