Korean parents' perceptions and attitudes toward the Study of English in South Korea

2020-07-13T15:10:29Z (GMT) by Joohee Kim

This study investigates Korean parents’ perceptions of and attitudes toward issues related to the study of English, such as the social phenomena that arise from excessive emphasis on learning English and so-called “English fever”; as well as ideas about Standard English, American English, Korean English and other varieties of English (World Englishes). This investigation was conducted using a survey that targeted Korean parents, who are the primary decision-makers when it comes to their children’s English education. The survey was comprised of two sections with similarly-themed questions: one part asked respondents’ opinions based on their own experiences learning English, and the second part asked about their philosophy when it came to their children’s English education. In this way, the study explored whether or not respondents held contradictory attitudes between their beliefs as learners and their beliefs as parents. The results of the survey confirm that respondents view English as essential for success in South Korea, but it was also clear that they are tired of the excessive pressure placed on learning English and social problems caused by it. Additionally, they believe there is a standard English, but do not consider it to be limited to specific dialects, such as American or British English and while they perceive the existence of other varieties of English, they are less interested in learning them. Regarding their children’s English education, their responses were not fully contradictory, but they did show some degree of inconsistency. For example, they preferred their children have Native English teachers and were less accepting of them being taught other varieties of English, including Korean English. Significantly, the results of this study not only challenge, but stand in contrast to results from previous studies and to prevailing social prejudices, which often portray Korean parents as English-obsessed and willing to go to any lengths to ensure the highest-quality English education for their children.