Association for Childhood Education International Annual International 2006 Conference
"Early Childhood English Instruction as a Foreign Language in Korea" San Antonio, TexasApril 12-15, 2006To view this requires Microsoft PowerPoint
Dr. Lea Lee Associate ProfessorDept. of Curriculum and InstructionDarden College of EducationOld Dominion University145 Education BuildingNorfolk, VA 23529home page: http://www.odu.edu/~lxlee/email: LxLee@odu.eduphone: 757-683-4801fax: 757-683-5862
Parents in Korea are eager to teach their toddlers and preschoolers English Most Korean parents spend a substantial portion of their monthly salary to send their children to English-language preschools English learning institute fees range from $100 to $1000/month (Mean= $300/month) Many parents believe that early exposure to English helps their children’s academic success, which in turn guarantees better opportunities for enhancing their future social and economic status.
Prior to 1997, English was introduced in 7th grade. Result: Not adequate for Korean people to communicate with foreigners in a global society. Since 1997, English has become a required subject starting from 3rd grade in Korea as part of the Korean government’s movement for internationalization of the nation. Global society’s demands of communication in English Background of Emphasizing Early English Instruction
Korean Government Guidelines: Begin teaching English only after children are exposed to 10,000 Korean words and 1000 books. English instruction prior to age six must only be applied to ESL students ( Ex. India, Philippines). Start teaching English after age 6 for EFL students (Ex. Japan, China). An experimental study with 4 year olds (N=10) & 7 year olds (N=13) showed that 7 year olds learned English more effectively; demonstrating better pronunciation, memory ability, application skills, and attention level (Ann, So Eung, 1992; Ser, Jae Suk, 1991; Dornyei, 1990 ). Appropriate Age for English Instruction toEFL (English as foreign language) Students
Why do Korean parents of preschool children have a fervor for English education? Fervor for English education Guaranteed Career success academic success Highly proficient level of English Better opportunities For enhancing SES level Due to the public notion that a high level of English proficiency guarantees academic and career success in Korea.
Incidences of Fervor for English Education • Korean parents are overeager to teach their children English • Operations on childrens’ tongue for a longer and more flexible tongue in private clinics have been reported but no official statistics. • Some Korean parents have gone to the extreme of surgically altering their child’s tongue in order for them to better pronounce certain English sounds, such as /ch/, /th/, /ph/, /r/, /l/, /f/, /v/, etc.
Origin of Korean’s Educational Zest: Education-obsessed society of S. Korea (Oh,1995) • During Chosun Dynasty of 14th century, Korea was ruled by an Elite class (namely, Yang Ban) who gained knowledge and etiquette and were required to pass a national scholar test (namely, Gwa Ger), afterwhich they enjoyed the benefits of upper class life through generations. The public revered and envied these Yang Ban and wished the same success for their own children. • Educational zest is illustrated through interest far beyond normal levels among the general public in Korean society. These levels of interest and peoples’ educational desires are easily and quickly spread widely throughout the Korean population. • Educational zest is shown today through the phenomenon of excessively high expectations of educational achievement and extreme levels of educational competition. Parents still desire the life of Yang Ban for their children today.
Goal of Early English Education • Top goal = Developing non-accented English speakers. • Reported cases of approximately 6 month-old infants being placed • in front of English TV programs for 5 hours a day to achieve this goal. • Often children under age 7 are sent out after dinner for English courses • in private institutes located in the middle of the neighborhood • (shown in the photo).
English instructional methods for preschool children in English Institutions (Lee, K. & Jun, Y.,1997) • Mainly simple conversational English sentences are taught at home and preschools. • In preschools: focus is on articulation of basic phrases and pronouncing words (62.6%) • At home: parents use audio-visual aids for pronouncing words (60.0%)
English Instructional Methods for preschool children in English Institutions • Moon, M. (2000) emphasized the use of songs when teaching EFL students • Teaching English by song is very effective • The repetition of songs helps children learn English rhythm, pronunciation and useful expression
English Instructional Methods for Preschool Children in English Institutions (SunWoo, Y., 2000) • Storytelling is a good aid for teaching English for children over age 6. • Results indicate older children gain better understanding of a story: • 4 year old children could onlyrecognize a few words. • 6 year olds could understand the story better than 4 year olds through a teacher's storytelling, pictures and teacher's gesture, voice and facial expressions.
Materials used in English Institutions Woo Nam-Hee. (2002) Picture flash cards
English Institutions • Regardless of governmental concerns regarding early English instruction, there are literally thousands of private institutes that offer English instructions to young children between the age of 2 and 5 inKorea.
"Hawkwon (English Institutions)" • Private institutes that focus on teaching are known as "Hawkwon" in Korean, which means a learning institution. • Some Hawkwons are part of large well-established chains while others are small family-owned operations. • Usually these schools employ both Korean teachers who have been abroad and native English speakers who have been hired on one-year contracts.
Number of English Hawkwon in Korea • Actual number exceeds official government tally.
An Example of English Hawkwon Logo: http://www.kuniverse.com Click on the logo to browse the site.
An Example of English Hawkwon Logo: http://www.childedu.net • Click on the logo to browse the site. • A private institute chain, “Childedunet” offers English classes via on-line and off-line sites.
Academic backgrounds of Native English Speaking Teachers hired in Hawkwon (Woo. Nam-Hee, 2002)
Practices of English instruction in Hawkwon • Son, Bo Kyung, 2001; Woo. Nam-Hee, 2002) • Analyzed various English programs in educational institutions and identified the following 5 general practices.
English instruction in Hawkwon:Practice #1 The English curriculum was focused on teaching a foreign language, instead of the whole child development
English instruction in Hawkwon:Practice #2 Operated according to the children's ages, leveled curriculum, integrated in content subjects
English instruction in Hawkwon:Practice #3 The goal is to speak the spoken language efficiently (not for building interest and confidence in English).
English instruction in Hawkwon:Practice #4 Taught by native English teachers or Korean teachers but parents prefer foreign born English teachers.
English instruction in Hawkwon:Practice #5 • Used evaluation cards for activity, work-center and observation, which do not have any specific aim or method. • The evaluation style often became the cause of complaint among the children's parents.
In addition to Hawkwon • Although English Hawkwon is very popular, young children attending regular preschool receive English instruction as well. Preschools must offer English lessons in order to remain competitive with Hawkwon.
From a survey with 680 kindergarten teachers Preschools use similar teaching materials and methods as Hawkwon’s Yang, Ok Seung, Kim, Jin Young, Kim, Hyun Hee, Kim, Young Sil (2001) Results of a teacher survey on English Education in Preschools
Materials used in Preschools to enhance Korean children’s use of English
Teachers’ rating regarding the Importance of teaching English in Preschools
Korean Policies for English instruction for preschool children • The government and educators believe English instruction given too early is not effective and causes psychological harm. • Thus, they do not recommend early English instruction.
Closing Remarks Regarding English Instruction toEFL Students • Young children need freedom from the enforced labor of study. They are better served by play-oriented, creative, and developmentally appropriate education. • Teaching young children English using developmentally appropriate activities, such as singing, finger play, Total Physical Response, story telling, picture book reading, word cards, and viewing videotapes to improve pronunciations and conversational English sentences aid children’s physical, psychological, cognitive, and language development. • However, the Korean government and educators discourage parents and private school directors from teaching English during infant and toddler years (Lee & Kim, 1997; Lee, 2001; SunWoo, 2000). Since English in Korea, is not used among the population, as it is in India and Philippines, young Korean children can view English as extremely difficult and out-of-meaningful context unless it is introduced in a play oriented manner once they are proficient in their primary language.