Wednesday, December 12, 2007

For the illiterate, hard-of-hearing, and hole-dwellers

How many ways does it need to be said? Korean students can't speak English. Another bit of brilliant reporting from KT.

Almost half of Korean undergraduates have difficulty speaking English, according
to a recent survey of 1,041 students at a local university, conducted by
``Incruit,'' an online recruiting-specialized company.

About 40 percent responded that they understood English when it was spoken quite slowly, while 11.9 percent said it was impossible to communicate in English. About 39 percent said they can speak English but not fluently, while just 1.8 percent said they
can speak English fluently.

``With companies giving more weight to English speaking proficiency in recruiting procedures, job seekers including undergraduates should focus their English practice on improving their speaking ability,'' said Lee Kwang-suk, chief administrator of Incruit.

OK, one more time for the cheap seats: KOREAN STUDENTS CAN'T SPEAK ENGLISH! (generally speaking, of course) Despite having studied it for 10 years, they can listen well if it is spoken slowly but they cannot speak it. For those of us in tertiary education, it is an everyday conundrum; many students have been taught with so much emphasis on written tests and wrote learning that trying to introduce new ways of learning into the system is often an exercise fit more for a dentist than a teacher.

As for the survey....dubious at best. Taking a survey at only one university definately skews the numbers. The numbers would be MUCH higher in certain parts of the country and a little lower in certain high ranking universities. The name and location of the university is not mentioned in the article and that leaves me with a suspicion that the survey may have been conducted in Seoul. A more useful survey would poll students from universities and colleges (and different tier schools as well) from across the country. THEN we could accuratly portray the situation. Quite frankly, from where I sit, its much worse than than the article suggests.


Kim said...

There was a study I think last year that said that about 60% of American students graduating High School could not speak English properly.

Also reminds me of an astute quote by Dr Shin'ichi Suzuki (founder of the Suzuki method for teaching violin), "German children speak German and Japanese children speak Japanese!"

Basically saying that you learn the language that you are surrounded by.

Fencerider said...

Unfortunately, though a gifted musicical pedagogist...Dr. Suzuki misses the point and his statement only outlines the problem because all over the world there are countries where English is widely spoken as a second language (Singapore, Phillipines, India, to name only three in Asia alone) and the fact is that the rates for English learning in Germany are much higher than those in Japan or Korea. I have a particular bias in that I believe that the problem may be related to affective problems associated with culture that are found in many of the countries in which English is widely taught but poorly spoken. (particularly in Korea and Japan.)