[LETTERS to the editor]Essay writing: An English concept?
TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) requires a writing section, so, naturally, students preparing for the exam need to practice their writing a lot.
This means that for a great number of students, writing essays in English is not an unfamiliar task. If asked to do so, they will, and the writing won’t be bad.
Yet ask students to write an essay in Korean, their native language, and see what happens. In my case, I can write essays without trouble in English, but writing one in Korean is a rather alien task. My Korean writing quality is nowhere near my English.
This is because students are driven to practice English, thus neglecting Korean. Korean classes do not usually call for much writing; instead, they focus on reading. On the other hand, writing is never omitted in English lessons.
Why is there more emphasis on a foreign language than on our own tongue? This makes no sense.
Our language is part of our national identity. It is part of who we are. Therefore, we need to put more effort into Korean. It is true that we need English to communicate with the rest of the world, but that does not mean that we should abandon what is ours.
Is Korean so overlooked because it is our native language, and therefore requires less effort to master? This is partly true.
However, just because less effort is required doesn’t mean no effort should be put in at all. Much, much less effort is put into Korean than English. This leads to great incompetence in Korean among younger students.
Perhaps the previous generation could get by without special lessons in writing, but this generation is not so competent. And this is the generation that is to lead the future Korea. Therefore, more effort should be put into essay writing, for essays are key in international communication.
We cannot simply increase Korean classes; we need a more effective and material solution. We should have more classes that incorporate discourse and debate to enable students to learn how to use language to present an argument.
In such classes, essay writing and speaking the language will be practiced.
This will lead to increased skills related to essay writing, making it easier to master the art of writing.
Merely devoting more time to writing is not sufficient to overcome the current situation. That is only a temporary solution to a growing problem. The real answer to our predicament is to provide experiential learning.
We need to devote immediate attention to improving the quality of Korean essay writing skills, without resorting to stop-gap solutions that won’t stand the test of time.
English essay-writing is flourishing in our country, so why not essays in our native language? All Korean citizens should work to become great articulators and writers of their language. However, right now the opposite is happening.
While it is important to learn how to write and speak English fluently, we shouldn’t let our Korean skills fall by the wayside.
This is not an equal situation; the importance of Korean deserves priority. Therefore, essays should be practiced more in Korean.
Park Seong-hyun, 9th grade,
Bummul Middle School, Daegu