ALI Student Profile – Kyoung Seon Na

Kyoung Seon Na

IEC Student Kyoung Seon Na

When Kyoung Seon Na attends Intensive English for Communication (IEC) classes at SDSU’s American Language Institute, the native of South Korea is always holding a baseball.

“It ain’t over till it’s over,” is written several times on the baseball, a saying made famous by former New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra.

Na, who goes by the nickname “Anna,” is proof that something is never over until it’s over. At age 47, she is the oldest student attending the ALI.

Whenever she starts to feel down, she looks at Berra’s quote on the baseball. It immediately gives her motivation to face the rest of the day.

“I think baseball is life,” Anna said. “Like in baseball, we have so many chances. If we don’t give up, we always have a chance to win.”

Anna was recommended to the ALI by her son, a sophomore psychology major at SDSU who attended Torrey Pines High School north of campus while living with a host family. She believes she has hit a home run at the ALI because the IEC program will help her in three ways:

  • She’d like to help children learn how to speak English back home on Jeju Island, the largest island off the coast of the Korean Peninsula.
  • She wants to be able to speak English to the grandchildren she hopes to have one day.
  • An avid reader, she desires to be able to comprehend books written in English.

“The younger ALI students ask me why I study so hard when I already have a job back home,” said Anna, who taught Japanese and Korean before coming to America. “I tell them this is my last chance in life. It has been on my bucket list to study without working. I made it!”

While checking off an item on her bucket list, Anna continues to check in with her fellow classmates.

“Some of them tell me I’m the same age as their mom,” she said. “I have a close relationship with them, and even share Korean food. I enjoy talking with my younger classmates. It helps me understand what young people are thinking.”

Anna speaks fluent Korean and Japanese, as well as some Portuguese and Chinese. Because of that, she’s able to share with numerous ALI students in their native language.

“I love to study foreign languages,” she said. “Greeting other students in their language is my ice breaker.”

Since breaking the ice at ALI, Anna has made great strides in learning English. In fact, while being interviewed she proudly displays an “ALI Reading Award” she earned.

“I have very special and great teachers at ALI,” she said. “I have taught 25 years and love my job. The teachers here motivate me to study. I really appreciate them.”

Hyun Soo Kim

Hyun Soo Kim of the Baltimore Orioles

In her spare time, Anna appreciates watching Major League Baseball in America. Her favorite player is Korean-born outfielder Hyun Soo Kim of the Baltimore Orioles.

“I love him because he is so positive,” Anna said. “He practices so hard and doesn’t give up. He motivates me in study and in life.”

Just like Hyun Soo Kim, who struggled to make the major leagues, Anna knows it’s never over until it’s over when it comes to improving in life.