Early Western Learners of Korean: What Can They Teach Us?

Robert J. Fouser
Tuesday, November 12, 2013 - 7:30pm
Second floor Residents’ Lounge, Somerset Palace
7,000 won (non-member); free for members

In this lecture, I will discuss the lives and works of early Western
learners of Korean language in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The
discussion will focus on William George Aston (1841-1911), John Ross
(1842-1915), Horace Grant Underwood (1859-1916), James Scarth Gale
(1863-1937), Homer Hulbert (1863-1949), and Gustaf John Ramstedt
(1873-1950), among others. Most were missionaries and are known today
mainly for the place in the history of Christianity in Korea, causing their
contributions to the history of Korean language education to be overlooked.
Most of their work centered three areas: dictionary compilation,
textbook/materials development, and translation of canonical texts.
Through a close examination of the experience learning and, in some cases,
teaching the Korean language, I will discuss the relevance of their
experience to contemporary issues in Korean language education,
particularly as it relates to the controversial role of grammar and
translation. Many of the primary sources of this lecture come from the RAS
Library and *Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch*.

Robert J. Fouser was born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He holds a
B.A. in Japanese language and literature and an M.A. in applied
linguistics, both from the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. in applied
linguistics from Trinity College Dublin. He studied Korean language
intensively at Seoul National University in 1983-84 and taught English in
Korea for seven years, mostly at Korea University, during the mid-1980s and
early 1990s. From 1995 to 2008, he taught foreign language education at
Kyoto University and other universities in Japan and developed the Korean
program in Kagoshima University. Since 2008, he has been teaching Korean
as a second/foreign language education at Seoul National University. He
has written numerous articles on Korean art and culture, and has translated
*Understanding Korean Literature* by Kim Hunggyu into English. Since 2009,
he has been active in hanok preservation, particularly in the Seochon
neighborhood of Seoul. He has been a member of the RASKB Council since

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