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Is SNU canceling required English courses from next year?
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Swampfox10mm



Joined: 24 Mar 2011

PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 8:04 pm    Post subject: Is SNU canceling required English courses from next year? Reply with quote

So we had our departmental meeting at my university today, and our Korean boss began speaking about how, from next year, Seoul National University -- which is considered Korea's top university -- will cancel all required general English courses (for non-English major 1st year students, I assume). She said that SNU reasons that students have now attained a high enough level of English (at their school, at least) that required English courses are no longer needed.

Our boss believes this decision will be followed by other universities in Korea -- especially at better schools. Possibly others, as well. We discussed the possibility that (some schools, at least) might drop English merely to be able to also claim that their students are "smart enough" not to need English. She believes that even schools where students most certainly need English study, the English course requirement may be dropped.

She then went on to tell us that it would be in our best interests to develop a content area of expertise over the next few years, as even our school may follow suit.

Although our boss was just trying to give us a bit of a heads-up about the future in the next 5 years or so, the news was quite clear: the numbers of foreign teachers required to teach general English courses will likely be on the decline soon.

Wondering what else you guys have heard about this? It does not surprise me, but I guess I was expecting this to happen a few years more down the road.
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ThingsComeAround



Joined: 07 Nov 2008

PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 2:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That sucks. I suppose you didn't ask if classes of other subjects (Management, Marketing, American/European History, etc.) would be created and taught only in English?
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alwaysbeclosing100



Joined: 07 Feb 2009

PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 2:54 am    Post subject: re Reply with quote

The students who attend SNU come from the most elite and wealthiest families in the Korea. They have had immense amounts of time and money spent on learning English from a very early age. SNU students are the extreme end of the bell curve. They are the rare exception not the rule. If SNU does away with required English instruction I think it sends a positive message that if you want to run with the big dogs you better show up day 1 with a solid grasp of English. IMO it would be a positive step for SNU.

For the 99% of students at other schools the free market will reward those who are best prepared to add value to organizations. Given English is the language of global trade I don't see companies in the near future doing away with TOIEC or similar test as an evaluation during the hiring process.

When companies stop looking at new hires' English abilities, the 99% universities might stop required English.
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liveinkorea316



Joined: 20 Aug 2010
Location: South Korea

PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 6:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Compulsory English study has been on the increase where I am and it is part of their long term plans.

You are part of the 1% not the 99%. So what happens at SNU cannot be extrapolated to the rest of the country.

Something like more than 40% of your students go on to work in top Government government roles and the rest are captains of industry or leading doctors, lawyers or other professionals or stars. They are basically the elite students from all over the country.

SNU students could probably speak better ENglish when then were in Elementary school than most students in my freshman year. It's just a fact. A product of birth, or time or money or effort whatever
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fustiancorduroy



Joined: 12 Jan 2007

PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 6:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many of the students I taught at my foreign language high school went on to SNU. Of those students, nearly all of them were fluent or near-fluent in English. So, I can't really see why they'd need to study more English, since their English skills, especially their reading and listening skills, are comparable to, if not better than, most native English speaking students. Besides, it's not like Koreans need to learn English anyway.
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denverdeath



Joined: 21 May 2005
Location: Boo-sahn

PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 6:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i kinda disagree with a lot of the opinions posted so far. i've had lots of snu students at the "P" school. often, their english was atrocious. yeah, speaking especially. but, who can't read and write korean, right? and, yeah, doctors usually are a bit better; go figure. also have a brother-in-law who's currently doing his PhD there, and although he also did his military service with katusa, his english definitely needs improvement. long story short; snu, and wherever else, need to ensure the level of their students' english is much better than i've seen. sad, but true.
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PatrickGHBusan



Joined: 24 Jun 2008
Location: Busan (1997-2008) Canada 2008 -

PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 8:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What Swamp described may be a natural market evolution as far as English education is concerned in Korea.

At least his supervisor gave them a heads up so they all are aware of what may be coming and have time to re-tool or upgrade their credentials.

I would say it is wise and even necessary for anyone working long-term in Korea to keep up to date with market trends and to plan ahead (having a 3-5year plan is a good idea). That way you limit the chaos and uncertainty in your professional life and can even remain ahead of the curve.

This also seems to be a trend in many work fields: people needing to re-train, upgrade and re-tool every few years. It certainly has been the case in my department here! Heck we are asked to take 3-4 courses/workshops per year and are asked to produce a Learning Plan for each year (ie what you plan to do as an employee in terms of courses, PD and so on).
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ren546



Joined: 17 Dec 2010

PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 3:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This may be true of low-level "conversation"-style classes, but I don't think they'll cancel more advanced English classes for skills such as essay writing, presentations, etc. I had an interview scheduled there about a year ago, and the sample materials they asked me to teach with were VERY advanced.

I know our university is overhauling the Gen. Ed. curriculum and really pushing writing ahead of all other skills. We're also under pressure to select more advanced textbooks. Other than that, I see no immediate signs of our demise.
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Swampfox10mm



Joined: 24 Mar 2011

PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 4:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Always amazes me how people reply without reading.

Only required classes are, apparently, being canceled at SNU. To further clarify, my boss expects us to plan more content courses and other non-required English classes. I have no idea how many students will be interested in them, if not required by major.

I would like to hear from someone at SNU for clarification. Unfortunately, no one is willing to talk, or this site's viewership has dropped to sad levels. Of course it could be news to current SNU teachers, as well, and they may be scrambling to find out if it is true. The way communication works between schools and staff, along with the low numbers of foreigners who study Korean at levels high enough to comprehend subjects like this when sent a random memo, it would not surprise me.
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faeriehazel



Joined: 04 Mar 2008

PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 7:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Relevant excerpt from Korean news article:

서울대학교가 2014학년도부터 '대학영어' 과목을 교양필수 과목에서 해제하고 각 단과대별로 선택해서 수강하는 개편안을 추진 중이다.

허남진 서울대 기초교육원장은 "최근 입학하는 학생들의 영어실력 편차가 큰 상황에서 일괄적인 수업은 효율적이지 못하다"며 "대학영어 수강여부는 각 단과대별로 결정할 수 있도록 논의 중"이라고 밝혔다.

허 원장은 "영어과목을 쓰기, 말하기 등으로 세분화하고 수준별 강의를 개설하는 것도 논의 중"이라며 "대학에서 영어수업을 받을 필요가 없을 정도로 영어 구사능력이 뛰어난 학생들은 영어가 아닌 제2외국어를 수강하도록 배려하는 방안도 고려하고 있다"고 덧붙였다.

Rough translation: starting from 2014, SNU may take English classes off the list of mandatory courses, and instead leave it up to the individual departments to decide which English classes are necessary. Official from SNU says "It's not efficient to force all students to take the same classes when their English skills vary so widely. We are discussing the possibility of letting each department set their own rules. We are also discussing splitting the English classes into more specific categories, such as writing, speaking, etc and then grouping the students into different classes according to the level of their English skills. Some students have excellent English skills and don't need to take a college class, so maybe we would allow them to take a class in another foreign language instead."
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Swampfox10mm



Joined: 24 Mar 2011

PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, thanks for that.


The angle being taken by SNU worries me a bit, because they are not saying students are smart enough that they do not need English... SNU is saying it is not efficient to require it of all students, given that their levels vary widely.
This argument could easily be adopted by many schools, and of various levels. I hate to be so negative, but this can only mean a decline in the need of foreign teachers. If you can specialize, then maybe you can save your job.
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Son Deureo!



Joined: 30 Apr 2003

PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

faeriehazel, do you have a link to the article you posted that excerpt from?
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Swampfox10mm



Joined: 24 Mar 2011

PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 1:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I believe this is his article. No time for me to check it over... just did a search on Naver:

http://news1.kr/articles/911976
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faeriehazel



Joined: 04 Mar 2008

PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 2:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yup, that's it.
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PatrickGHBusan



Joined: 24 Jun 2008
Location: Busan (1997-2008) Canada 2008 -

PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2012 8:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For what it is worth, The University I used to work for is doing the same thing that SNU seems to be doing: cutting back on English classes.

I few friends I have working in Busan also told me their Universities were cutting FT staff (reducing the number of FTs).
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