[Letter to the editor]Translation retards language learning

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[Letter to the editor]Translation retards language learning

I applaud your upgrade and new weekly, full magazine-style insert, “Think English.” Korea needs more stimulating and current resources available to its English language learners.
That said, I think it could have been done in a much more beneficial fashion. Why is the insert called “Think English” when it is totally translated? This approach to language learning is in the dustbin elsewhere in the world and it fosters nothing close to “English thinking.” It would be better if Korea and especially cutting-edge media followed the more successful approach of Europe, where they offer whole-language reading/listening at the appropriate level. There needn’t be any translation of material and if vocabulary or explanation is needed, it can be done through the English language itself. This is an approach that would give Koreans more confidence to not translate internally and really think in English.
I find it especially disconcerting given President Roh Moo-hyun’s comments in the same weekend issue. He states that “he wants Koreans to have a better command of English, so that they won’t be ‘depressed’ because of difficulties in speaking the language.” In my opinion, Koreans have difficulty speaking English precisely because they are fed a diet of translation and not whole immersive English. The JoongAng Daily would do well to get onboard and revise its insert to be more in line with modern pedagogy. The new all-English EBS channel is a step in that direction and so too would be an English-only “Think English” insert using a simple vocabulary set.
David Deubelbeiss, Seoul Education Training Institute

Let FTA open up rice and auto markets
The Korea-U.S. free trade agreement has been on top of the agenda of the South Korean government since the negotiations were launched on Feb. 3, 2006. Since then, there have been ongoing clashes between its advocates and opponents. The talks have reached a conclusion. But as far as the FTA is concerned, there should be further openness regarding rice and automobiles.
The rice market should be opened. In the FTA, the opening of the rice market was not included, reflecting the belief of some people that the Korean rice market is likely to be overwhelmed by cheap American products that will make Korean farmers lose their market share. However, that will not necessarily be the case; cheap Chinese rice has been sold in the Korean rice market for a considerable amount of time. If this is seen in an optimistic perspective, American, Chinese and Korean rice will likely benefit producers who can gain in competitiveness. Korean agricultural products can be marketed by developing special brand names such as “Icheon Rice.” This is a favorable strategy because consumers in the domestic market tend to buy rice with special brand names and those that are grown organically. Japan set a good precedent by developing higher value-added rice that won consumers’ support and thus was successful in the opening of its rice market.
More openness should also be pursued in the automobile market. Once tariffs that reached 8 percent are completely eliminated, prices of imported cars produced in America are predicted to drop by up to 10 percent. Thus, American cars and Japanese cars manufactured in America such as the Honda Accord are likely to see increased sales in Korea. Competition will lead the Korean car industry to enhance its productivity and quality. More openness and the elimination of tariffs will contribute to the development of the Korean car industry.
Eom Do-young, a senior at Naksaeng High School
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