Korea: English to be used in all high school classes

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Fri Jan 25 15:50:39 UTC 2008

English to Be Used in All High School Classes

South Korea's high schools will begin to conduct regular classes in
English beginning in 2010, as part of the incoming government's drive
for English-immersion education, sources of the transition team of
President-elect Lee Myung-bak said Thursday.

While unveiling an educational reform policy earlier this week, the
team said that Lee's new government will drastically reinforce English
education at primary and secondary schools to normalize public
education and help parents reduce their private foreign language
educational expenses estimated at 15 trillion won ($15.8 billion)

"A pilot English immersion program will be introduced at some elite
private and public high schools starting this year. It will be
gradually expanded to ordinary high schools nationwide," said a team
official in charge of educational policies.

"But the number of regular classes to be conducted in English will be
gradually increased due to concern over communication problems between
Korean teachers and students. Thus, the program will first be applied
to math, science and arts subjects, which can be more easily
understood in English," the official said.

He noted his team will make a formal announcement on the English
immersion education policy in early February. "The government will
also carry out intensive investments to improve the English
proficiency of students from rural and low-income households to help
ease polarization in foreign language education," he said.

Lee's team has vowed to enable ordinary high school graduates to speak
English without difficulty, blaming the current English language
education system, focused on grammar, for the inability of many Korean
students to speak English fluently after over 10 years of English

Adding to parents' financial burdens, an estimated 35,000 young Korean
students leave for foreign countries annually to attend schools and an
additional 10,000 students take part in short-term English classes
abroad during the summer and winter vacations.


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