Teach English in Huanbaochanyeyuan - Yancheng Shi

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Problems for Learners in the Republic of Korea (Problems for learners in a country of your choice) Patrick A. Bradfield March 10, 2020 For much of the 1980’s the author taught English, to adult learners, in the Republic of Korea (herein after ’Korea’) on a part-time basis. This experience included several formats and forums including: volunteer work teaching English conversation at a church sponsored Cultural Center; paid, private English conversation classes with Korean education and medical professionals; and paid work, at a Korean university, preparing graduate students for TOEFL and IELTS as well as the GRE and GMAT exams. This later work also included assisting students in preparing applications for graduate admission to universities in English speaking nations, primarily to medical schools. As the above experience is rather dated a review of literature was conducted to support the findings related in this paper. The literature review included a survey of various English as a Second Language Blogs and other web accessible material as well as peer reviewed academic papers on the topic. The Blog or web postings, in the main, listed the following challenges: cultural differences, discipline, student motivation, differences between Korean and English phonetic and grammar systems, learner shyness and bullying, challenges associated with the Korean educational system. Conversely, academic papers, while acknowledging culture, largely focused on differences in Korean and English phonetic grammar systems and challenges associated with Korean educational system or practices. The forgoing is true in regard to academic papers regardless of whether the authors were Korean or from other nations. The first observation in respect to the finding from the literature review is that little has changed since the 1980’s in regard to Korean English learner challenges. The second observation is - having taught various topics, including English, leadership, business, logistics and supply chain management and military skills in Korea, the United States, the Middle East, the Caribbean and the Philippines, I note that cultural differences, discipline, student motivation, learner shyness and bullying are not unique challenges for Korean learners. Rather, these are likely universal challenges no matter the people or topic. The point here is not that challenges related to culture, discipline, etc. can be ignored but rather that in every learning environment these challenges must be addressed and managed. Consequently, the balance of this paper will consider differences in Korean and English phonetic grammar systems which, in the authors view, are the most important to understand when attempting to develop the Korean learner’s English conversation skills. In respect to differences in Korean and English phonetic grammar systems the majority of academic papers related two fundamental issues. These papers use different terms or descriptions for these issues. Thus, liberty has been taken in this paper to attempt a standardization of terms. Accordingly, the two primary issues identified in regard to Korean and English phonetic grammar systems include phonetic and syntactic. In Korean language each letter corresponds to a sound unit or phenome (Suh, 2003). Conversely, in the main, English letters (grapheme) do not have a single sound and may be pronounced in several different ways. Cho (2003) observed that this difference between the languages is perhaps the most baffling aspect for the Korean learner attempting to master English conversation. Likewise, English and Korean consonants are quite different. Korean consonants stops, fricatives and affricates are voiceless (Cho, 2004). Whereas English includes both voiced and voiceless fricatives and affricatives. Korean learners consequently struggle to pronounce voiced consonants and sometimes cannot pronounce such consonants as /f, r/, as these sounds do not exist in Korean language. In regard to vowels, Korean has no weak form or unstressed vowels. The Korean learner often struggles with unstressed vowels. Other differences in stress between the languages are also a challenging for the Korean learner. Korean is a syllable-timed language – some would say the language sounds monotonal (Luton & Luton, 2011). Accordingly, the varied stress and rhythm typical of English is very hard for Korean learners to master and perhaps only practice delivers this skill to a Korean student. Korean learners of English struggle likewise with syntactic differences in English verses Korean. Word order for example in Korean is subject-object-verb while in English it is typically subject-verb-object. Thus invariably, a Korean learner in an English conversation is constantly working to change word order from Korean to English (Cho, 2004). Experience demonstrates the even in a conversation with a Korean with advanced English conversation skills one must be patient while the speaker thinks the transition through. Some examples of other syntactic differences between the languages include: Korean language lacks verb inflection; in Korean relative clauses come before the noun to be modified; and, in Korean adverbs proceed verbs – a Korean would say ‘fast run’ where as a native English speaker might say ‘run fast’ (Cho, 2004). Clearly, every learner of any topic even English faces a variety of common challenges typical of every teaching effort – whether culture, discipline or motivation. However, the one of the unique challenges for the Korean learner of English is related to significant differences in Korean and English phonetic grammar systems.   References Alex Case (2010, August). 15 Cultural differences in the Korean classroom. Retrieved from – https://www.tefl.net/elt/articles/home-abroad/korean-cultural-differences/ Balamut, E., (2017, May). Understanding School Etiquette and Classroom Culture in South Korea. Retrieved from - https://greenhearttravel.org/blog/teach-abroad-south- korea/understanding-school-etiquette-and-classroom-culture-in-south-korea Binsky, D., (2018, April). Ultimate Guide to teaching English in South Korea. Retrieved from – https://drewbinsky.com/ultimate-guide-teaching-english-korea/ Cho, B., (2004). Issues concerning Korean learners of English: English education in Korea and some common difficulties of Korean students. The East Asian Learner, 1(2), 31 -36 Cho, H., & Brutt-Griffler, J., (2015, October). Integrated reading and writing: A case of Korean English language learners. Reading in a Foreign Language, 242–261 Garton S., (2014). Unresolved issues and new challenges in teaching English to young learners: the case of South Korea. Current Issues in Language Planning, 15(2), 201-219, DOI: 10.1080/14664208.2014.858657 Luton, C., & Luton, J., (2011). “Does Your Frog Speak Korean?”: Challenges of teaching English to Korean speakers. GIALens 6(1), 1-9 O’Donnell, T., (2006). Learning English as a Foreign Language in Korea: Does CALL have a place? Asian EFL Journal, 1-27 Park, J., (1999). Teaching English: Korean culture and context. English Teaching, 54(3), 3-21