Two students in the O.B.F. café are talking in Korean when reporters visited there. One day, an anonymous post was uploaded at an online community of students of the Catholic University of Korea (CUK). The student had a question if they can speak Korean at O.B.F. café. O.B.F. café is an English cafe in Global Lounge of International Hub (IH) ground floor. O.B.F. cafe was established in 2001 with the purpose of creating environments that allow students to speak in English freely and to come in contact with British and American. Its original purpose is to promote the use of English and to build up students’ experiences of English culture. For these purposes, it is managed actively by O.B.F. masters who are student managers of O.B.F. café various drinks are also on sale.
On the post, CUK students added comments that it may be allowed to speak Korean in a small voice and insisted that O.B.F. masters pretend not to know, unless student making a big noise in Korean. Meanwhile, O.B.F. masters responded that speaking Korean is certainly not allowed in O.B.F café in order to keep purpose of English-Speaking space. In this situation, how can students use O.B.F. café for its original purpose without discomfort? The Catholic University Forum (CUF) interviewed O.B.F. café president and users to figure out the background of this situation.
Then, why do students visit O.B.F. cafe? Results of a simple survey about the purpose of visiting O.B.F café and language used primarily by students with twenty students who were in O.B.F café can explain the reason of speaking Korean in O.B.F café. Only one student visited O.B.F café for practicing English conversation, while others replied that they visited just for rest, beverages, even though O.B.F visiting is supposed to be for making English conversation for students who are in class of Global Communication. They thought speaking English as work that requires much effort.
Half of the students answered that they usually speak Korean in O.B.F. café and speak Korean due to the lack of English communication skills. Some students said that since there were many students speaking in Korean besides them, they just followed without feeling guilty. A noticeable response was that some students using Korean realigned themselves with somebody else speaking Korean. Consequently, this result shows that students are not conscious of the English-only rule.
<Interview with O.B.F café president: Jeong Yu-rim>
Q1. What is the purpose of about O.B.F. café?
A. In March, many students visit O.B.F. café to drink Oreo shakes, which is our signature menu. Also, O.B.F. visiting starts at the end of March. From that point, students who come for O.B.F. visiting are more than students who visit for drinks. Thus, the goal of visiting is various like ordering drinks, doing assignments and conversation with friends.
Actually, there are some students speaking in Korean because they are not aware of rules in O.B.F café. Since the Global Lounge was established, masters continued to be concerned about how to make students use English. Also, all of the masters are aware of the difficulties that cause awkward feelings when students come in Global Lounge and speak English.
Q2. For this problem, what do O.B.F. masters do?
A. We make a recommendation and conduct English conversation. For example, if students speak in Korean, we ask them several times to speak English for getting around Global Lounge and if they use Korean continuously, we notify them that they have to use Global Lounge next time. Some students are unsatisfied with this rule. However, it is O.B.F café’s policy.
Q3. Do you have any solutions?
.A. We design events and activities that are related with English, considering about what is the way students can enjoy and speak English freely. Especially, there is a Global X change in this year. We are planning event where foreign exchange students and Korean students can become friends and interact with each other.
Q4. What is an attitude you hope that the O.B.F visitors have?
A. I believe “Language is the vehicle of thoughts”. We already know it is difficult enough to talk to strangers for 25 minutes even in English, so grammatical accuracy is not important to participate in O.B.F visiting. The point is to have a meaningful occasion in O.B.F regardless of pronunciation and grammar. We asked students to reconsider the purpose of O.B.F café trying to offer the perfect environment for speaking English.
According to an interview with O.B.F master, lots of programs that can change a whole atmosphere of cafe in the desired direction are already started. Masters try to make activities and project which are based on students’ active participations rather than take strong actions such as a warning, caution and so on. Not only can they make an effort to preserve the original purpose of O.B.F cafe, but they can also try to make students feel comfortable and have a good experience.
To improve this circumstance, O.B.F café notifies the students who are not conscious of their responsibility that, students who use convenient facilities like O.B.F need to keep in mind that they should keep the rules as well. Thoughts such as “Everything will be fine without me, and it would be okay if we can do this secretly” should be avoided. Students have to understand the purpose of O.B.F, which is to help students to develop English speaking skills. Someone who needs to uphold the primary purpose is none other than both the host and guest. As a part of this meaningful place, O.B.F masters and students should try to uphold the rules by speaking English.