Busan Metropolitan City has revealed an official plan to become an English-friendly city
As globalization progresses, English is no longer the sole realm of native speakers but has become a tool for countries worldwide to interact and exchange ideas.
Since English proficiency is increasingly regarded as a necessary skill for global competition, incorporating it into national curricula can benefit all individuals who wish to engage in overseas activities and nations that desire to compete in the international market and politics.
Busan Metropolitan City has revealed an official plan to become an English-friendly city of Busan, where English is easy to speak to build a global hub city with the world. This project intends to assist the city win the bid to host the World Expo in 2030, which will be chosen at the General Assembly of the Bureau International des Expositions in Paris in November 2023.
This effort, however, is not a new concept; rather, it dates back to the Lee Myung-bak Administration’s education policy, the Immersion English education plan.
How has Korea’s English education policy changed?
The Korean Ministry of Education (KMOE) has been working hard to bridge the English divide by implementing English education regulations and offering equitable opportunities for English language study to satisfy societal expectations for English competence. KMOE also seeks to increase Koreans’ English competence by strengthening English education in schools and reducing the country’s ever-increasing private English education.
Under the ‘National English Curriculum Policy (NECP),’ English was incorporated into the Korean national curriculum in 1997, beginning with Grade 3 (9-year-old children). Since then, the national pedagogical method has changed from grammar-translation to communicative language education.
The shift, however, has not solved the apparent problem with traditional language training. Conventional English language instruction in Korea, which emphasizes rote memorization and teacher-centered instruction, can benefit students in more receptive exercises such as reading and listening. But it hinders performance in communicative tasks such as writing and speaking.
Policy on Native English-speaking Teachers (NEST) in Korea
To address this frustration with traditional language instruction in Korean English learners, Korean parents and educators seek English speakers who can teach the necessary communicative skills. As a result, there has been a significant increase in extracurricular academies that employ native English speakers.
Aside from extracurricular activities, elementary schools adopted government programs such as the English Program in Korea (EPIK) to deploy native-speaking English teachers in public schools. This approach is based on the widely accepted assumption that introducing Native English-Speaking Teachers (NESTs) to pupils can help them enhance their speaking and writing abilities.
According to this idea of communication abilities, the chance for foreign language learners to communicate with fluent speakers (NESTs) and planning learners’ experience in foreign language conversation are necessary for communication-oriented foreign language education.
The awareness that cultivating Korean English teachers who can speak English fluently during their English training programs is difficult contributed to the establishment of the native English speaker system.
However, there are still debates and studies that question the recognition of native English instructors as excellent learning teachers owing to their English proficiency. Non-native English teachers (NNEST) also experience feelings of inferiority as a result of their lack of English proficiency and the difficulties that come with trying to acquire English while still teaching English courses.
Despite the Korean government’s efforts to enforce mandatory English education policies, such as starting English education earlier and arranging for native English speakers to co-teach in English classrooms, Koreans’ English knowledge remains insufficient.
The NEST program, developed as an efficient technique to teach English in an environment where English is not a native language, balances the strengths and shortcomings of NESTs and NNESTs and is now utilized in Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Singapore, and other countries.
English-friendly education policy dates back to the Lee Myung-bak Administration
English-friendly education policy dates back to the Lee Myung-bak Administration when the government promoted English public education, English immersion education, 300 high school diversification projects, college entrance exam autonomy, and the establishment of international middle schools. The period was also when the left (i.e., progressive) and right (i.e., conservative) parties clashed over Korea’s education policy.
The conservative Lee Myung-bak Administration boosted educational welfare while implementing neoliberal policies. Although the Lee Myung Bak Administration’s educational assistance is acknowledged to be insufficient, it is significant that it has worked to enhance educational equity by breaking away from substandard learning through financial support and program growth.
During the early days of the Lee Myung Bak Administration, the Presidential Acquisition Committee proposed exceptional English education policies in the 2008 English Public Education Completion Plan, such as hiring 23,000 new English teachers and implementing an English-only assistant teacher system with English-speaking college students, housewives, and overseas Koreans. This plan prompted several discussions.
In 2003, there were 541 NESTs, 866 in 2004, and 1017 in 2005. NESTs increased from 2,937 in 2007 to 4,332 in 2008, 7,997 in 2009, and 8,546 in 2010 as the Lee Myung Bak Administration adopted a program to boost English public education.
In Korea, the College Scholastic Ability Test (CAST) is now used as the College Entrance Examination. The CAST, on the other hand, does not explicitly assess general competency in English 4 skills.
As a result, the Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation (KICE) created a new state-wide English language test for authentic English. The new exam, NEAT, uses Internet-based test (IBT) to assess English learners’ four skills (reading, speaking, writing, and listening). Furthermore, the NEAT is divided into three levels, and English learners can select a test level based on their goals. NEAT was going to be implemented in 2013.
However, the Park Geun-hye Administration suspended the development of National English Ability Test (NEAT), a program aimed at improving communication skills via the school curriculum. It also reduced interest in communication-oriented school English instruction by converting the CSAT English test into an absolute evaluation. The NEST program was also impacted by the policy stance focused on English education to promote national competitiveness. Even throughout the fast expansion of NEST deployment to improve English communication skills, the problem of NEST educational capabilities, credentials, and equality in deployment remained crucial.
English education in Singapore, Learn about its education system
The 2022 edition of EF Education First’s EF English Proficiency Index (EF EPI) was released, assessing data from 2.1 million non-native English speakers in 111 countries and regions. The Netherlands held first place, but Singapore jumped to second, re-entering the top three for the first time since becoming the first ASEAN country to do so in 2018.
Singapore has a well-rounded education system and a highly trained labor population as the government provides high-quality education at all levels of education, reducing the need for private schools. Singapore’s education system consists of five tiers: pre-school (for children aged three to six), primary (for children aged six to eleven), secondary, pre-university, and postsecondary education.
While English is the primary language of teaching in schools, students are encouraged to study a subject in their native tongues, such as standard Mandarin, Malay, or Tamil. This education system makes it easier for employees to find work in English-speaking firms. The robust educational system provides a large, well-educated workforce, and quality education to the children of foreign workers. Singapore’s education system also allows businesses with large expatriate workforces to relocate their children, who may later join the labor market.
Singapore has traditionally invested enormously in education, and the quality of education at the primary and secondary levels has increased over time, as seen by high adult literacy rates. Because of the low pupil-to-teacher ratio, Singaporean students benefit from personalized engagement with their instructors. Furthermore, it improves their learning experience and increases their knowledge of fundamental numeracy and literacy, which is essential for acquiring more advanced skills.