Korean universities are increasing the number of English courses believing that this will increase student’s competitiveness and make them “global challengers”. Some students believe that putting so much time and effort into the education of English in the name of giving higher education could have been a mistaken road. Some people say that the “English frenzy and florification of a language in Korea has gone overboard.” And they continue, “The purpose of coming to university at all is to learn more about the world and sharpen our analytical skills so we can behave and live with a heightened sense of awareness.” The universities’ one-sided faith in the English curriculum is not only impractical, but also distorts the whole purpose of secondary education.
It appears that simply increasing the number of English classes in universities does not meet many Korean students’ expectation of an ideal university education.
“We want quality learning that will raise our competitiveness,” said Park Eun-young, a business in Hanyang university. “This means diversifying the scope of knowledge, not just our English proficiency.”
And there is another problem regarding that subject. Regarding the outlook of English learning environments and considering that the participants(students and professors)are not native English speakers. Surprisingly, the English proficiency of the participants do not seem to be the main concern of the students. It appeared that students’ dissatisfaction revolved not around the incapacity of the professors in English, but on the structure of the education system.
“I do not care how good a professor’s English ability is. But he does not know how to teach the fundamentals of the subject in English,” said Choi Choon-won, a business Hanyang university. “I think what the professor knows and how he conveys the idea is more important to how much the students can learn. Just because your English is great does not mean the quality of the class better,” he added.
Students have some suggestions that will be effective in increasing students’ competitiveness. “If universities really wanted to increase competitiveness of the students, they should focus on refining students on cultural awareness,” said Ji -eun Lee. Do-hyun Kim claims that “competitiveness really depends on being able to think independently.” Another student, Jun-hee Lee, claims that, “Even though people have to learn English in this era to stay competitive, English should not be the focus of university education.”
It is about time that Korean government and education system look into themselves to come up with more realistic and efficient ways to meet the students’ demands. It is not the language that is the key in raising one’s competitiveness. After all the point is that mere learning “In English ” should not overtake the importance of learning “in-depth” knowledge-what universities are really for.