[Letter to the Editor]English is a means, not an endKorean universities are increasing the number of English courses, to raise students’ competitiveness and make them “global challengers.” But many students believe that more effort and resources should be devoted to improving the quality of Korean education, and not by just increasing the number of classes in English.
Simply increasing the number of English classes at universities is a policy that does not meet many Korean students’ expectation of an ideal university education.
“We want quality learning that will raise our competitiveness,” says Park Eun Young, a business student at Hanyang University. “This means diversifying the scope of knowledge, not just our English proficiency.”
Most of our students and professors are not native English speakers, which influences the learning environment in a course or subject taught in English. Teaching methods should overcome this constraint.
Surprisingly, English proficiency is not the main concern of the students. Many are dissatisfied about the structure of Korea’s education system, rather than the lack of capacity of professors to teach in English.
“I don’t care how good a professor’s English ability is, if he does not know how to teach the fundamental principles of the subject in English”, says Choi Choon Won , a business major. “I think that what the professor knows and how he conveys the idea are more important. How much the students can learn just because their English is great does not mean the quality of learning is much better,” he added.
Students offer suggestions on how to more effectively raise students’ competitiveness. “The university ... should focus on refining the students’ cultural awareness,” suggested Ji Eun Lee, a business major.
Do Hyun Kim, another student, agreed. He said that, “competitiveness really depends on being able to think independently.”
Jun Hee Lee, a social studies major, supports this argument. He said that, “in the global age, even though people have to learn English to stay competitive, English should not be the only focus of university education.”
It is time that Korean government officials review policies in the education system, and respond to students’ views and suggestions.
Language alone is not the key in raising the global competitiveness of people.
Learning in English should not overshadow the importance of learning in depth. Knowledge is the core idea and reason for the existence of a university.
College of Business, Hanyang University