Korea has to replace an old English education system with a new one. I have been teaching languages to students as part-time jobs since I was 19 years old and asked some Korean university students why they want to learn English and how they feel about studying English. They all answered that it is to enter a better company and feel pressure and depression when they come up with an idea of English.
I was shocked that they thought learning a foreign language was an arduous and challenging task because I firmly believe that the activity should be fun. From this background, I scrutinized what the cause is. Then, it surfaced that this was because of the education system in Korea. I strongly believe that English education in Korea is not practical and suggests changing by modeling countries that are successful in English education.
According to English Proficiency Index in Sweden in 2016, the most successful country was the Netherlands. Though the top ten successful countries were all related to the Indo-European language except Singapore, it was not the main attributable reason but the education system.
Education in European countries focuses on verbal communication and the way of expression highly. These countries hold a common value that the most important things are individual uniqueness and the contents.
On the other hand, Education in Korea emphasizes English as a skill to enter a school or a company.
As an example, the environment is also different to reach the education’s purpose. The news media and the radio stations broadcast programs from England by purchasing the right because they cannot make TV programs in the country’s language due to the small market and the low population in the European countries. However, Korea has developed a broadcast industry and can afford to make its own programs due to a relatively big market.
This environmental factor plays a critical role in acquiring English because 15,000 hours are necessary to get used to a language. Children in European countries fulfill the condition automatically because of their surroundings. However, children in Korea fulfill only 970 hours approximately from elementary to high school.
It is not easy to set an accomplishment criterion and insufficient to change the direction of English education. According to Joon-Eon Park, a professor of English Literature at Soongsil University, the fundamental problem is the way how to evaluate students and the private school structure. Children and parents in Korea tend to pay too much attention to grades to enter a better school or a company. Parents try to join their children into private schools to supplement children’s ability that the public or private schools could not cover.
According to Statistica, Over 80 percent of elementary students received private education in 2019, with an average participation rate of almost 75 percent across primary and secondary education.
To reform the structure, it is indispensable to transform the evaluation criterion so that every student and the parent can get satisfactory grades only by attending a public or private class.
In a nutshell, Korea has to model the English education system’s structure from the successful European countries and reform the evaluation way so that students can get good grades.
Private education in South Korea – Statistics & Facts
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