[Letters] Foreign language high schools: Great opportunities or stress?
As a foreign language high school student, the controversy about getting rid of foreign language high school privileges is not welcome news for me. However, I believe that people who oppose foreign language high schools have very sharp points and I absolutely agree with them.
First, the goal of the schools that specialize in languages is very vague. “Raising Global Leaders who will lead the country and the world”. Seriously, I am not really sure what a global leader is and I doubt if schools in other countries use this term at all. There are a lot of seminars, meetings and lectures about being a humble, excellent and superior leader. I’ve seen so many well-known figures come to our school to tell us about their lives which seem to interest students very little.
Also, the people whom the school invites have different backgrounds. One is a doctor who is disabled but got over the disadvantages being impaired, another is a professor from an honored university and another is a volunteer who helps desperate kids in Africa. Too much variety just confuses the students and makes the definition of “Global Leader” more ambiguous.
Second, the foreign language high schools are really making the middle school students in Korea miserable. Students in middle school are mostly interested in foreign language high schools and so are the teachers and the parents. Beside the financial matters - which are always discussed in the controversies - it is too burdensome for students. The stress they get from trying to enter the schools is deadly. When I was a middle school student, it was so inhumane when students looked pale burning the midnight oil, staggering desperately to solve one more English problem.
The pressure we felt thinking about failing the admission process was formidable. In fact, many people failed to enter the schools, who admit about 1 percent of all students. However, a student who finds out that they can’t accomplish their goal loses literally everything. They are likely to be deprived of pride, self-confidence and a future.
Therefore, I agree with getting rid of foreign language high schools and ending the bloody cycle of defective education in Korea.
On the other hand, I don’t. Even though the foreign language high schools lose at their ultimate goal and have a bad impact on students, I think eliminating every foreign language school is too harsh for students who are now in the schools.
These schools are more competitive in exam periods compared to normal high schools. We do have higher levels of classes. We have foreign language conversation classes with natives, make PowerPoint projects to introduce books and teach our fellow students through lectures. These marvelous activities are feasibly impossible in normal high schools.
We are really working passionately to gain real, practical learning from our school. We also went to the Philippines to help people there and learned that supporting others really warms the heart. So, no one can ignore these top class activities and events we have from school. The hardships faced in getting As on tests is more disgusting than ever and this must not be underestimated.
Finally, I want to say that foreign language high schools should be more honest in articulating their goals. No matter what, they want excellent students and outstanding records in sending students to top universities. However, it is necessary that the schools find ways to lower the cost spent on private education. But also there should be some form of recognition of how the foreign language high schools are helping students excel.
Yu Sang-beom, student of
Gyeonggi Academy of Foreign Languages
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