August 28, 2009 07:28
Yoo Soo-youn has risen from nothing to become a popular English teacher of a string of crammers preparing students for English proficiency tests and earn a yearly income of about W1 billion from her crammers, outside lectures and media appearance. Now, she has published a book in which she tells her story and explains her belief that by giving her best every day, she overcame her lack of degrees from a top-notch university, wealthy family background, or, as she believes, good looks.
Yoo graduated from Kangnam University in 1995 with a BA in business and received a master's degree in business at Aston University in England. Afterwards, she returned to Korea and began teaching preparation for the TOEIC English proficiency test, which is still widely taken in Korea. "I leave home around six-thirty in the morning and give TOEIC lectures from 7 a.m to 2 p.m. I teach about 1,000 people, 200 in each of the five classes," she says. "After the lectures, I head over to the Yoo soo-youn English Center, which I established, around 2.30 p.m. When I'm done there, I head back to my classes and lecture from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. I usually handle three classes of 200 people. My day officially ends when I get home around 11 p.m. I usually go to sleep at 1.30 a.m. in the morning after I check online posts and comments related to my lectures. I haven't slept for more than five hours a day since I became an adult."
Constantly juggling a busy schedule, Yoo has no time to put on makeup. "I always give lectures without wearing any. Some students are confused when they see me for the first time, since I look so different from the pictures. That's why I always tell them on the first day, 'Anyone seen my headshot in the advertising materials? When you start to think I'm pretty without makeup, you'll score over 950 on the TOEIC.'"
She also gets many middle school and high school English teachers in her classes. "Because the competition in the education sector is so fierce, they constantly need to develop new teaching methods over a short period of time. That's why they come here to learn from my lecturing skills."
Yoo believes the only way to learn English is through pure effort. "To improve my English speaking skills, I would decide on a subject and talk about it with my friends only in English," she said. "To improve my listening skills, I picked out a movie and watched it over and over for more than two months. Sometimes, I would end up confusing the movie with reality."
She declined to speculate about the future. "I often say 'I do not have a dream,' because I want to be faithful to what is happening in the present," she said. "Opportunities don't come knocking on your door one day out of the blue. But only people who constantly try to better themselves despite their failures can discover them by chance."
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com