[LETTERS]English expansion welcome
In reference to the article “Petition protests English expansion plan” [November 26], I firmly agree with the government’s new plan.
A lot of Koreans struggle with learning English, and their poor speaking proficiency is always pointed out to them. It takes a lot of time and effort to learn a language. Think of how babies learn their mother tongue; learning a foreign language is the same. The more exposure they get, the sooner they speak fluently. Even though EFL (English as a Foreign Language) is taught nationwide in Korea, students rarely have opportunities to speak English. The English expansion plan is the best way to provide them with the opportunity.
In order to make it effective, the government should precede the expansion with further measures. First, the Education Ministry should think seriously about revising the English curriculum and proficiency tests. In the present system, the goal of learning English is just to pass the exam, not to communicate with others. It needs to follow the examples of other EFL countries that have succeeded in producing fluent English speakers.
Stricter state screening for hiring native speakers to teach English must be applied; unqualified teachers do more harm than good. To make up for shortage of exposure to the target language, the government should broaden budget support for school libraries, which should be equipped with Korean books as well as authentic English materials - books, movies, newspapers, and so on, which will allow students to come into contact with English naturally.
I think it goes against international trends to oppose English expansion. Having more English classes at school doesn’t affect learning Korean or cause students to lose their cultural identity. The Education Ministry has enough time to consider the new plan before 2010. Efforts must be made to persuade opponents and to get people to have faith in the policy.
Jeong Mi-hui, middle school teacher