Bill Planned to Promote English Education

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Sat May 6 14:29:12 UTC 2006

>>From Korea Times,

Bill Planned to Promote English Education

By Lee Jin-woo Staff Reporter

A group of 11 governing and opposition party lawmakers have submitted a
bill to the National Assembly aimed at promoting English education for
underage students in schools in an effort to cut down ever-increasing
costs for private English education. The bill, which was proposed by the
lawmakers including Rep. Kim Gi-hyeon of the largest opposition Grand
National Party (GNP), is designed to encourage local governments to
establish more English immersion programs _ often called ``English camps
or ``town programs _ nationwide and at schools, especially middle schools,
and to hire more native English instructors. The bill also calls for the
introduction of a more flexible employment system for local English
teachers. Critics say South Korea has been entirely reliant on somewhat
rigid state-run examinations to select qualified teachers for public

``South Koreans have spent some 10 trillion won ($10.5 billion) for
private English education, including lessons at cram schools, and overseas
English as a second language (ESL) programs every year, Rep. Kim said.
``Given that English education here has failed to provide ample
opportunities for students to be immersed in English speaking
environments, English education has become another major reason of the
nations widening gap between the haves and have-nots, he added. According
to the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development, a total of
10,676 schools for underage students across the country, including
elementary, junior high and high schools, have a meager 1,179 teachers
from English-speaking countries, who are hired by schools mostly in Seoul
and surrounding Kyonggi Province.

About 188,000 Korean students went to study abroad in 2004, spending some
23 billion won in total during their stay in English-speaking countries,
the ministry said. Furthermore, some 5,173 high school students quit their
schools to study abroad in the same year, up 46 percent from 3,542
students in 2003. Meanwhile, some English education experts have stressed
the positive role of English-language newspapers in foreign language
education, as shown in the NIE campaign. NIE, which stands for
``newspapers in education, aims to advance the writing and reading skills
of school children by making use of newspapers as an education method.

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