Problems for learners in KoreaMany people aspire to teach english as a second language abroad. As they become more serious about taking on this challenge, their focus will inevitably turn to what country to teach in. A very popular choice is Korea. Korea is a wealthy, safe country that offers many advantages to foreign teachers, including promises of excellent pay and accommodations. After a decision is made to teach in korea
, people may look into what it takes to be a successful teacher there. This can be very beneficial. But many teachers focus on themselves. To be a successful teacher in korea
, it is critical to understand key problems for learners in Korea.
When thinking about problems for learners in Korea, as well as other Asian countries, people will likely think of pronunciation. Learning pronunciation can be very difficult. In Korea, pronunciation problems are often stereotyped as problems with ‘l’ and ‘r’. But there are many other areas where pronunciation can be endlessly difficult for an english learner in Korea. Examples include pronunciation of ‘b’ and ‘p’, ‘g’ and ‘k’, and the simple letter ‘s’. Many new teachers find it surprising that students will often pronounce a word like ‘Sue’ as ‘shoe’ (www.confidentvoice.com). A teacher should keep in mind that they will encounter many surprises with pronunciation problems for young learners
People often hear about the drive for education in Korea. The thirst for knowledge is unquenchable. This may seem like a benefit to teaching there. This is not always the case, however. In addition to a school day that becomes increasingly longer by age, parents generally send their kids to “Hagwons”, which are learning academies, in addition to school. Depending on age, students may go to math, english, science, art, music, study rooms, or many other academies (http://www.getesljobs.com). While there are advantages to this focus on education, it can create many problems for many learners in Korea.
There can be many problems created by the education focus in Korea. With so many academies to attend sometimes every day, learning can be difficult. It can be difficult to study or do homework when it always feels like you have to study something else at all times. In addition, students see studying key subjects like english, math, and science as practically lifelong. Because of this, students may not understand why they are studying english. Accomplishments are often overlooked as students are pushed ahead to learn more, creating a big problem for learners in Korea (http://www.brookes.ac.uk).
With so much focus on education and learning academies, students may run into an issue with finding the time to study and learn. A solution proposed for this by Korean President Lee Myung-Bak was to make it legal for ‘Hagwons’ to run around the clock (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr). Thinking about sending middle and high school age kids to school around the clock may seem crazy to people in other parts of the world. In Korea, however, the president sees no problem with it. This would no doubt cause exhaustion, concentration issues, and an assortment of other problems for learners in Korea.
One more problem learners in Korea face is the focus of learning. In Korea, students are pushed to do well on tests. There is immense pressure to do well on school tests to get good grades. In addition, parents of many students have their students take TOEIC and other english proficiency tests to gauge their progress. This can cause many problems for learners. In addition, school tests often focus on reading and grammar (http://www.brookes.ac.uk). This can create problems for learners in Korea. Many have trouble transitioning school english into ‘real world’ english.
When people decide to teach english in Korea, they may choose to do research into culture there, and how to be a good teacher. Many have a good understanding of how control, and being an effective presence in the classroom. They will quickly learn many pronunciation issues for learners in addition to ‘l’ and ‘r’ sounds. It may be most important, however, to gain a fundamental understanding of problems for learners in Korea. It can make the difference between being a good teacher and a great teacher.