Koh Kyeong-hee, head of an association for hangeul culture, speaks at a press conference to denounce the current and incoming governments' ``English-worshiping'' policy in Seoul, Wednesday.
/ Korea Times Photo
by Won You-hon
By Kim Rahn
Civic groups for Korean language preservation called for a balanced policy between Korean education and English, claiming too much focus on English education will not help boost the nation's competitiveness.
Thirty-three civic groups and some professors urged the current and incoming government to scrap their policies which they claim ``worship'' English language, in a press conference in Seoul Wednesday.
``In the policy the new government seeks, the only aim of primary and secondary education is English learning. The English-worshiping education will lead to broken Korean, unbalanced education between English and non-English subjects, and new types of private education,'' the groups said in the statement.
According to the transition team's plan English classes will be expanded at schools, teachers will teach English classes using English only and a state-run English test will be introduced.
``If too much weighting is given to English, other various fields will lag behind, ultimately weakening the nation's competitiveness. Why should all people of the nation be good at English?'' said Jung Jae-hwan, vice head of an association for hangeul culture.
Lee Keon-bum, director of the association, also said that the government first needs to grasp the nation's demand for people good at English, and then make policies about public English education.
``It is said that only some 5 percent of positions at companies require fluent English skills. If everybody is forced to master the language, it is a waste of time and resources,'' he said.
``English is not the only key factor for the nation's competitiveness. By attaching too much importance on English, the importance of other subjects could be neglected,'' he said. ``I won't call it `development' that middle school students read English fairytales instead of Korean classical literature,'' Lee said.
The groups also denounced the central and local governments for abusing English in their projects and slogans. Among such ``Konglish'' slogans they cited are ``Hi Seoul,'' ``Colorful Daegu,'' and ``Dream Bay Masan.'' At the same time, they said slogans such as ``Justice 1st'' by Justice Ministry and ``Home Tax'' by the National Tax Service and project names such as ``Han River Renaissance'' do not make sense and should be replaced with some more reasonable Korean slogans.
``Globalization and consequent economic and cultural exchanges are essential, but it does not need to change administrative terms into English. It is a flunkeyism and a misunderstanding that making English slogans is globalization,'' Jung said.