The Preparation of South Korean High School Students for International Communication

Walsh, Alexander (2013) The Preparation of South Korean High School Students for International Communication. [Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)] (Unpublished)

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There has never been a greater need to develop South Korean students’ ability to use English as a means of international communication than now. While English has spread to all corners of the world (Graddol 1997) South Korea has seen an increased reliance on international trade and a significant increase in both foreign visitors to South Korea and South Koreans going abroad. Meanwhile, new models of English language teaching have evolved to account for the increased use of English involving one or more non-native speakers. One of the most prominent of these is English as a Lingua Franca (ELF), which promotes a shift from traditional English as a Foreign Language (EFL) models of teaching towards an approach that recognises and accounts for the important role non-native English speakers play (Seidlhofer 2004).

The changing role of English towards that of an international language incorporating non-native speakers is reflected in the goals of the National English Curriculum (NEC) of South Korea (Ministry of Education (MOE) 2008), which states the need for South Korean students to be able use English to “develop our own [Korean] culture and introduce it to other countries” (p.43) and use English to “connect [South Korea] to different countries” (p.41) as well as having numerous goals specifically aimed at developing students ability for international communication with both native speakers of English (NS) and non-native speakers of English (NNS).

As the need for students to become competent interlocutors with other NNS becomes increasingly recognised, Graddol (2006:87) claims that “its [ELF] ideas are likely to influence mainstream teaching and assessment practices in the future.” The role of textbooks may be imperative in the realisation of ELF models in English language classrooms. Jennifer Jenkins, who is one of the founding and most influential figures of ELF, states that textbook developers have the potential to act as ‘gatekeepers’ to English language classrooms (Jenkins 2002). The importance of textbooks is summarised eloquently by Sheldon (1988:237), who states “these [textbooks] represent for both students and teachers the visible heart of any ELT programme.” Yet, currently, there has been no research on how appropriate South Korean public school textbooks are in the preparation of South Korean students for international communication including NNS of English. With this in mind, this study will analyse the appropriacy of textbook materials used in South Korean high school classrooms in meeting the international communication goals stated in the NEC (MOE 2008).

The attitudes of teachers towards ELF models of English language teaching are also important if they are to make their way into the classrooms of South Korea. Research on attitudes towards communicative language teaching describes how hostility amongst South Korean English language teachers can prevent the uptake of approaches perceived as ‘Western’ (Li 1998). With this in mind, this study looks to analyse the extent to which South Korean public school teachers may now be affected by similar attitudes towards preparing students for international communication through an ELF oriented approach.

This paper will begin by describing the development of education in South Korea, including an analysis of how the development of the South Korean education system has been, and still is, heavily influenced by South Korean culture and the possible effects these influences have in preparing South Korean students for international communication. In Section 2 I will move on to discuss the development of ELF, how it relates to the goals of the NEC (MOE 2008) and how these tie in with South Korea’s current economic climate. As part of this discussion I will evaluate the issues ELF faces both as a concept and a pedagogical tool when applied to South Korean public high school classrooms. Section 3 outlines the research design used for this study. It also describes the difficulties encountered and how this research has been adapted to account for these. Section 4 presents the results of the textbook analysis and teacher surveys, before moving on to Section 5, which contains my discussion of the key issues highlighted by the results of this study. This paper concludes with my recommendations on how the South Korean education system can adapt teaching strategies aimed at improving students’ international communication skills to the current framework of education on both a micro and macro level.

Item Type: Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)
Keywords: South Korean students, English language, international communication, English as Lingua Franca, ELF, English as a Foreign Language, EFL, textbooks
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2013 13:15
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2017 21:42

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