Thursday, December 30, 2010

영어 선생 Hall of Shame Entry #6: The Chosun Ilbo (English edition). No One is Immune from the 영어 선생 Hall of Shame

The Chosun Ilbo Has Nothing More Interesting to Report?

I have no idea why this article was posted.  Let's try to speculate.
1.  The Chosun Ilbo wanted to brighten the mood of all those in Korea that don't like studying English, and give those people some justifiable reasons for not studying.  "Look mom, English is doomed, so I'm going to practice for the Star Craft (video game) tournament."  Does that work?
2.  The Chosun Ilbo wants to decrease the stress level of the population resulting from learning English.  OK, maybe this is why.  There is no doubt that the stress level of Korean life in general is highly stressful for a number of reasons.  I'm not sure that this article alleviates that, but let's give the newspaper the benefit of the doubt.

This Article Does More Harm Than Good
1.  Even if it were true, Koreans in Korea need to learn English.  Even if the article was true, there is no mention regarding how long it will take for English to fade into oblivion.  The Seoul Gyopo Guide will take all bets from those that think that we will live to see that day. 
2.  It distracts Korean people from reality:  Korea is too geographically small, and the population is too well-educated to support a completely self-absorbed economy and society.  So, unless South Korea plans to annex huge amounts of land from other countries filled with people and natural resources, Koreans will need to interface with people from other nations, who communicate in English.  The Seoul Gyopo Guide still believes that learning Japanese is largely a waste of time.  If you want to claim that studying Mandarin is a more useful endeavor, then the Seoul Gyopo Guide would agree with that.  However, the amount of effort necessary may be overwhelming.  Another factor to consider is that Chinese are learning English as well, so the Chinese have two languages: Mandarin and English.  One thought is that Koreans may try to "level the playing field" by making English the language of business transactions with the Chinese.

Now, Koreans are used to the idea that there is considerable manipulation of the press.  However, it might be better to suggest that Koreans change their study habits when studying English, as suggested here.  That would potentially reduce the almost-unbelievable amount of resources currently being used.

Sadly, this article is on the list of the Most Read articles if you visit the website right now.  In any case, given the harm this article does for those who don't want to study English in the first, place, The Chosun Ilbo wins a place in the 영어 선생 Hall of Shame.


Anonymous said...

The article makes a lot of sense. Secondly, the reason Korean people, not just Korean but NE Asian countries people are having a hard time learning English is very simple. Too many standards. In 학원s you have Canadians, Europeans, Aussies, South Africans all teaching English and there are differences amongst the English. The reason the average SE Asian person can speak survival/hustle English is that the Brits occupied them and now everybody's on board with learning that British standard of English.

South Korea should do the same, pick one standard, very simple. If you want to argue the point, if somebody's learning Korean, have them pick one, not 제주말 at one school and 부산말 at another school. Same concept, very simple, yet these governments idiots can't see that because it's simple and makes too much sense.

The Lost Seoul said...

Thank you for your comment. It is my point that learning English is a FACT of LIFE in Korea. Your points are well-taken, in that there are teachers in Korea of very different skill levels. That is the point of this post:

The idea that requirement for English language skills will fade into oblivion may be true, but we won't live to see that day. As such, it is better to focus on studying English correctly, instead of hoping that the requirement will no longer exist.

Thanks again for commenting!

Tickle said...

This is barely news, and old news at that. The "source" for this article is a press release for a history book about the decline of dead languages. The focus of this book is NOT English: the controversial part about English's demise is tacked on to the end (most likely to stir up some chatter).

And what exactly is the author's argument? It is that translation technology will develop to the point where nobody needs to learn ANY foreign language anymore. This is just unfounded, attention-seeking speculation.

English is the language of science, business, tourism and many other spheres. Also, Anglophone culture enjoys enormous popularity around the world. This global standard is not doomed just because of a world recession.

Also @ Joonbug: The Japanese have no problem in learning from and communicating with all types of native English speakers. Why is it so hard for you?

And what will you do if you need to communicate with an Pakistani who studied in Britain? Or a Malaysian who studied in Australia? I'm interested in their reaction when you demand they speak whatever you think is "the standard".

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