January 31, 2008

"English Worship" Gone Too Far in South Korea?

President-elect Lee Myong-bak's transition team stirred a quite a controversy when it announced its English education proposal for public schools, which includes full immersion program of teaching English class in only English (and even in other subjects beside the language class on English). The team links South Korea's future competitiveness in the globalized world with proficiency in the English language. But this proposal has produced outcry from diverse groups, from educators to citizens. See a commentary in a conservative paper.

South Korean educators already teach English class in elementary schools and English is widely alluded and used in the pop culture and business. It is ironic that Koreans despise Japan for harshly imposing the learning and using of the Japanese language on the Korean people during the colonial period, but now, some are willing to voluntarily adopt and use another foreign language on a national level.

[Photo: A foreign teacher teaches English in South Korea.]

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