Sunday, October 12, 2014

"English Language Education is a Rudderless Ship"

rudderless boat
English Education in Korea is a Rudderless Ship

An interesting editorial from the Chosun Ilbo about the state of English language education in South Korea.  Basically, Ahn Seok-Bae says that while Koreans throw huge sums of money at English education, it's actually largely ineffective.

I couldn't agree more with basically everything he says.  During my years in Korea, I've seen the policies with regard to learning English in public schools change seemingly as often as the seasons change.  Unis are often no better, with people who often haven't set foot in an actual classroom setting policies with regard to language education that are more often that not short-sighted.  There are no easy solutions, but here's my #1 idea:

Public schools need to "clean house" and get rid of the all the Korean English teachers who can't actually communicate in English.  Replace these teachers (often older ones) with teachers who can (often the younger ones) or with QUALIFIED native speaking English teachers.  By qualified, I don't mean the prettiest one with blue eyes and blonde hair.  But, I mean those with Celta Young Learners or Deltas or MA Tesols, or actual teaching certificates from Western countries in things like ESL or English and a few years of experience.  Pay them decently and give them their own classroom, doing away with co-teaching, which is basically a ridiculous farce.

Then, adapt the Korean Sooneung (University entrance exam) to focus on all 4 skills equally: Speaking, writing, reading and listening.  Design the test so that is focuses heavily on real communication, as much as can be done by a test.

Using a textbook like this one at the high-school level would help:

Check out this book if you want to get a University Job in South Korea

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