Monday, January 26, 2009

Krashen's advice to Korea

Sent to the Korea Times, Jan 23, 2009

A better path to English

Korea is making a very serious mistake in emphasizing speaking in English class ("Speaking to get more weight in English class," Jan 21). Research done over the last three decades has shown that we acquire language by understanding what we hear and read. The ability to produce language is the result of language acquisition, not the cause.
Forcing students to speak English will not improve their ability to speak English. The best way to improve speaking is therefore to increase the amount of comprehensible listening and reading that students do, and the easiest and most cost-effective way to make this happen is to develop libraries of interesting and comprehensible English books and recordings to supplement English class. Setting up libraries would be far more efficient than bringing in expensive foreign teachers and setting up English camps.
I hope policy-makers will consult the extensive research on second language acquisition, some done by Korean scholars, and consider easier, better and less costly ways of improving English in Korea.
Stephen Krashen

Speaking to Get More Weight in English Class
By Bae Ji-sook
Staff Reporter
Seoul has taken the belated step of placing more weight on the speaking of English in formal lessons.
The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education said Wednesday that all elementary, middle and high school students will have foreign English teachers at least once a week by 2012.
English-only classrooms will be established to encourage students to practice what they have learnt.
The plan is a major U-turn on the current focus on reading and grammar, its spokesman said. ``It will show that public education is enough to make students use English in life,'' he added.
Students will be placed into three or four groups according to their proficiency by 2011. Low-level students will get special education and mentoring from assistant teachers who are university students. They will also be sent to English camps for familiarization with the language.
No evaluation is planned for elementary school students, but for second and third graders at high schools, speaking, listening and writing will account for more than 50 percent of English test scores. Speaking will be weighed more heavily in evaluation.
Teachers will also be classified and receive customized English training.
About 17,500 are expected to undergo more than 60 hours of training every three years by 2012. About 2,500 teachers will receive three to six months training either at home or abroad.
At elementary schools, English-only teachers will be recruited to help 5th to 6th graders. These teachers will be given promotion incentives.
English education is one of the Lee Myung-bak administration's major projects to upgrade national competitiveness. Earlier last year, presidential aides unveiled the ``English immersion education'' plan with the aim of giving Americanized English education to public schools.
The domestic private English education market is worth about 15.4 trillion won, according to the Samsung Economic Research Institute, but Korea ranked 19th out of the 20 countries surveyed last year in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test, which is used for grading English proficiency among people planning to emigrate.


Post a Comment

<< Home