12-year-old girl gets perfect TOEFL score

Settings

ⓕ font-size

  • -2
  • -1
  • 0
  • +1
  • +2

12-year-old girl gets perfect TOEFL score

By Kim Tae-jong

A first-year middle school girl received a perfect score of 120 points on the latest TOEFL exam, becoming the youngest Korean to achieve that result.

The 12-year-old student said extensive reading helped her learn English and get a perfect score in the exam.

"I really enjoy reading and learning English is more like a fun hobby for me," said Sung Whi-yeon at Daewon International Middle School in Seoul.

She briefly attended an English hagwon or private learning school when she was an elementary school student, and has never lived abroad. However, she was able to learn English mostly at home thanks to her mother.

"My mom bought me many fairytale books written in English when I was young and read them over and over again, which I think helped me a lot naturally to learn the language," she said, adding that she also enjoys watching American movies and soap operas without Korean subtitles.

Her teacher said she is just an ordinary girl but well prepared for her studies at school.

"She always places first in class and enjoys reading a lot," her teacher Kim Hyo-jin said. "Apart from that, she is just like any of her other classmates."

Sung received perfect scores on all four sections — reading, listening, writing, and speaking — on the Internet-based TOEFL exam she took on Aug. 13.

In Korea, adults and high school students occasionally get a perfect score but she is the second middle school student to do so. The former record-holder is her senior at the same school, who received a perfect score in 2009 at age 13.

Sung said it made her develop a strong sense of rivalry and motivated her to challenge herself to become the youngest to get a perfect score in the exam.

She said she wants to become a doctor in the future, "I think the job seems to be very rewarding, and for the goal, I'll do what I have been doing."


Korean Language

토플 만점 받은 13살 `독서광' 여중생

대원중 1학년 성휘연양 "책이 마약같아"

해외에서 공부한 아이들도 어려워하는 토플에서 한 여중생이 영어 사교육을 받지 않고서도 꾸준한 독서만으로 만점을 받아 화제다.

26일 대원국제중학교에 따르면 이 학교 1학년 성휘연(13)양이 지난 13일 시행된 iBT(internet-Based Toefl) 토플시험에서 120점 만점을 받았다.

성양은 외국에서 생활한 경험이 전혀 없는데다 사교육 없이 집에서 하는 공부만으로 만점을 받아 더욱 눈길을 끌고 있다.

성양 어머니(43)는 "아이가 영어과외를 받아본 적도, 흔한 토플 문제집을 풀어본 적도 없다"며 "책을 엄청 읽는다는 것 말고는 만점 비결을 설명할 수 없다"고 말했다.

실제 성양은 "책이 마약 같아요"라고 말할 정도로 독서에 빠져있어 항상 가방에 책을 넣어 다니며 화장실에서도 잠자리에서도 책을 놓지 않는다.

외국에서 공부한 경험이 없는 학생이 만점을 받는 경우는 매우 드물다.

파고다어학원 토플센터에 따르면 성인이 5~6개월 준비해야 80점을 받고 조기유학을 다녀온 학생들도 보통 100점대를 받는다.

성양의 부모는 딸이 책을 가까이하도록 갓난아이 때부터 영어 동화책을 많이 읽어줬고, 회화 실력을 키울 수 있도록 미국 영화와 드라마 DVD를 보여준 것이 효과가 컸다고 설명했다.

성양 어머니는 "휘연이가 미국 드라마를 보면서 밥 먹는 걸 제일 좋아한다"며 "거의 매일 한편씩 시간을 정해놓고 보다 보니 말하고 표현하는 능력이 눈에 띄게 좋아졌다"고 말했다.

또 "흔히들 시험에 맞춰서 단어집을 외우고 공부를 하는데 휘연이는 책을 많이 읽다 보니 모르는 단어도 문맥에 따라 의미를 파악한다"며 시험중심의 공부가 아닌 자연스러운 독서의 중요성을 강조했다.

시험에 관심이 없던 성양이 토플을 보게 된 데는 일종의 라이벌 의식이 작용했다. 같은 학교 3학년 선배인 김현수(15)양이 2009년 iBT 토플시험에서 만점을 받았기 때문이다.

당시 13세였던 학교 선배가 최연소 만점자일 수도 있다는 얘기를 들은 성양은 경쟁심이 발동해 응시를 결심했다.

성양의 생일이 8월 15일이라 8월 13일 시험에서 만점을 받으면 선배보다 빠른 만 12세에 만점자가 될 수 있어서다.

지난 24일 시험결과가 발표되자 성양은 믿기 어려워하며 "정말요?"라는 말을 되풀이했다. 선의의 경쟁으로 도전한 시험에서 좋은 결과까지 얻어 성취감이 더욱 컸다.

성양의 장래희망은 글을 쓰는 의사가 되는 것이다. 가장 좋아하는 미국의 여성 작가 조디 피콜트처럼 하나의 전문분야를 갖고 거기서 묻어나는 글로 독자들에게 다가가는 게 꿈이다.
(연합)


By Kim Tae-jong

A first-year middle school girl received a perfect score of 120 points on the latest TOEFL exam, becoming the youngest Korean to achieve that result.

The 12-year-old student said extensive reading helped her learn English and get a perfect score in the exam.

"I really enjoy reading and learning English is more like a fun hobby for me," said Sung Whi-yeon at Daewon International Middle School in Seoul.

She briefly attended an English hagwon or private learning school when she was an elementary school student, and has never lived abroad. However, she was able to learn English mostly at home thanks to her mother.

"My mom bought me many fairytale books written in English when I was young and read them over and over again, which I think helped me a lot naturally to learn the language," she said, adding that she also enjoys watching American movies and soap operas without Korean subtitles.

Her teacher said she is just an ordinary girl but well prepared for her studies at school.

"She always places first in class and enjoys reading a lot," her teacher Kim Hyo-jin said. "Apart from that, she is just like any of her other classmates."

Sung received perfect scores on all four sections — reading, listening, writing, and speaking — on the Internet-based TOEFL exam she took on Aug. 13.

In Korea, adults and high school students occasionally get a perfect score but she is the second middle school student to do so. The former record-holder is her senior at the same school, who received a perfect score in 2009 at age 13.

Sung said it made her develop a strong sense of rivalry and motivated her to challenge herself to become the youngest to get a perfect score in the exam.

She said she wants to become a doctor in the future, "I think the job seems to be very rewarding, and for the goal, I'll do what I have been doing."
Kim Tae-jong e3dward@koreatimes.co.kr
LETTER

Sign up for eNewsletter