Problems for Learners in South KoreaKorea is known as one of the most english loving country in the world. In South Korea, learning and studying english in their early age became essential. It is almost like learning english became an obsession to Koreans. Actually, studying english was pretty popular among older generation and it flow down to generation to generation. However, I want to point out very interesting fact about english education in Korea; almost everyone in Korea has studied english from their early age but it seems like their effort is not measure up to their expectation point. When I think about english education in Korea, I constantly ask three questions to myself and they are; why english is so important in Korea? What are some problems in english education in Korea? And how can we solve those problems?
We have to admit that english became worldwide language and even you go to non-english speaking countries, you will hear english all over the places. Last summer, I went to Thailand with my best friend and we had a great time. During that trip, I noticed something strange; that strange thing was, I was speaking english to Thailand people and I didn’t feel strange about it until I noticed I wasn’t speaking Korean or Thailand language to them. However, this question came up to my mind, ‘Thailand isn’t english speaking nation and most of people who visited Thailand, they are not from english speaking countries. But all of them are communicating in english, Why is that?’ Why english became so important in many nations especially in Korea? I could find the answers by teaching english in Korea. Whether you want to learn english or not, you must take english classes order to get a good grade in school. english education starts from kindergarten in Korea and it never ends; Order to go to good high school, you must have good english grades from middle school; order to go to good university, you must have a good grades from high school. Also, you have to take an english language test to get in to the universities in Korea. Once you get in to universities, you have to study english and take several different tests to prove your level of english and if you get a high score on the test, you will have great possibility to find a good career in Korea. All of these systems make english essential to Koreans. english is the vestibule train that leads you to successful life in Korea.
While Korean people spending money on learning english, their english speaking ability is far away from their goal. So what is the problem with english education system in Korea? I find out that students in Korea study english to earn a good grade not to truly learn how to speak english. Also english education system in Korea is so focusing on grammar and some of the students never have a chance to speak english in their english classes. Rather than speaking and learning english, they are memorizing all the grammar rules which they never get to learn how to apply
those grammar rules to real conversation. Here is one example that I’ve experienced in Korea. I was waiting for subway on the station and I saw one foreign woman trying to ask questions to Korean people for a direction. Many people noticed her and they knew this poor foreigner needs help. But, 10 out of 10, people just passed by her and even some of them ran away from her to avoid having conversation with her. What I saw from them was the fear of speaking english.
So, how do we solve this problem? First, Korea should change english education system by offering more conversation classes at schools
. Starting from kindergarten, children
should have opportunity to meet foreigners and get rid of fear of speaking english. Most important thing is feeling comfortable speaking english to Native speakers. However, middle school and high school should have two english classes; one for grammar and one for conversation. If students have more chance to interact with native speakers, it will help them to reduce the pressure of speaking english. However, creating more fun conversation classes will be very helpful to Korean students and it will motivate them to study english.