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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The English Language in Korea


After work last night, Chung took me for a walk around his old high school grounds. He spent 2 years in the military service and is only now entering University. All of my Korean acquaintances insist they met their lifelong friends in high school, not University.

As we walked across the lamp lit baseball field, I encouraged Chung: "You're older, you know yourself better now, you'll have a great time." He asked what I was nostalgic about and I said nothing.

But when he pointed to North Castle star, I recalled Rockhouse Island where I spent my childhood summers. I corrected myself, "no, wait, I miss my family's island." I asked if he understood and he said, "yes, the country. You miss Ireland." I grinned. I've never been to Ireland.

According to Chung, there are three things he's envious of, in my life as a Canadian: peace, land and the International language. He thinks English cracks the world open like a nut, expands possibilities, and I suppose for him it will.

Most of my students haven't traveled abroad. In fact, they haven't even stepped on Chinese or Japanese soil. Korean students travel during their University years. They head off to Australia, Canada or the U.S. and drop thousands at a language institute.

But South Korea is globalizing its Universities, to both discourage students from seeking overseas study and to attract top foreign students. Elite colleges like Korea University and Ewha Woman's University recently created English-only undergraduate programs.

A thanks to John from Daejeon who sent me this MSNBC Newsweek article: English Orated Here. Read on.

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