What is Good English Worth?Following on the heels of a nationwide interest in the stock market, early education abroad is becoming the new dharma talk
"I'd even sell myself to make the money to get my children abroad," one passionate mother says.
However, some Koreans who are living abroad and have seen these students first-hand, are cold to the idea.
"If you're sending your child abroad, the child is no longer yours. Parents simply provide money...among young students coming to study abroad, only one out of ten children graduates a proper college."
There are problems even if mothers accompany the child; the child turns into a so-called mama's boy, living by his mother's edict, while the father assumes the role of money-maker.
English remains one of the most well developed languages in the world. It contains 650,000 words, most in the world. French, with 450,000 words comes next.
The Chosun Daily once carried a series of articles titled, 'The Masters of English,' selecting people who had shown a thorough knowledge of the language. Kim Kyung-won, the former U.S. ambassador, still spends 4-5 hours a day studying English and Han Duck-soo, Minister of Trade, is still known to carry a worn-down pocket vocabulary book filled with idioms.
It's clear that the environment is not as important as one's effort in improving language skills.
Granted, an international atmosphere is a wonderful opportunity for young students. However, the misconception that overseas studies are a requirement should be forgotten.
To gain competitive skills on a global scale, one needs to get a firm grip of both English and Korean. Students in high school are ripe for
Pronunciation should not be a matter of much concern. This fever to study in another country is almost as reckless as the speculative investing that has gripped Korea.
One should work to foster an environment conducive to studying English. Constructing a solid infrastructure in this country would be more efficient than sending children away.
If studying abroad becomes the only way to learn a language, it means abandoning education at home.
If the current situation is not checked, Korea will be a country of lost children of an international society who cannot speak proper English or Korean.
by Byun Sang-keun