By Adam Borowski
Real experts won't shame you, just because you've made a mistake. Fake experts, on the other hand, use shame as a psychological weapon to manipulate you. You lose direction, because you're afraid to speak English. You're afraid of shame. If you want to master English, or any skill for that matter, you must strive to learn from the best and the brightest.
Put your pride on the shelf. You won't lose face if you make a mistake. There's no progress without linguistic hardship. Here are the four kinds of individuals who can help you attain English mastery.
1. Third culture kids ― individuals who meander between cultures, because they moved around the globe a lot as children. They could be diplomats, military brats, international school graduates, academics, etc. They likely have great language learning techniques up their sleeve. Just ask them. Don't be shy.
2. Bilingual/multilingual individuals ― people who can effortlessly switch between languages are useful English conversation partners to have. Monolingual native English speakers don't really know how hard it is for you to learn English, because they can't relate. Someone who speaks your language and English on a native level can be a source of useful advice monolingual teachers probably won't give you.
3. Diplomats ― Diplomats are usually intelligent people who are great conversationalists. They are practical and ready to help others. It's their job to facilitate cross-cultural dialogue. That's exactly the kind of attitude you're looking for. Perhaps there's an American (British) club in your area?
4. Priests ― yes, you read that right. There are religious scholars who are excellent language teachers. Fast language learning is the sine qua non of missionary work. Just look at the Society of Jesus and their missionary work in China a few centuries ago. You're interested in the linguistic aspect, and not the theological one. There are shady religious groups out there, so exercise caution. These groups use English teaching as a cover for cult brainwashing.
You can't find anyone in your area? Set up a debate club. Choose a newspaper article, preferably something you're passionate about. Understand every word. Look for the same newspaper article in English and Korean ― it will be easier for you to see which words and phrases need clarifying. Once you understand the English version of the article perfectly ― choose sides, and debate the article with your friend. If you can, let someone evaluate your progress. You can even record your debates to see what needs improving.
This list won't help you get a perfect score on the exam. This list won't help you understand the difference between a girl's school and a girls' school. You're probably swamped with exam advice as it is. Perfect exam scores usually mean you're a good repeater, and not necessarily a proficient English user. There's a world of difference between the two.
And yes ― you still need to pass the school exam. My list is complementary.
Adam Borowski (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a technical Polish-English translator and a business English teacher. He worked in China.