Posted : 2015-01-14 16:37
Updated : 2015-01-15 09:08

Students think English lessons 'useless'

By Jung Min-ho

Seven out of 10 middle and high school students in Korea are dissatisfied with English education in classrooms, a survey showed Wednesday.

The survey, published in the latest edition of a journal from the Chung-Ang University Research Institute of Korean Education, revealed a serious mismatch between what students want to learn and what is taught at school.

According to the survey of 990 middle and high schools in Seoul, 67.5 percent of the respondents believe that their English lessons were too grammar-focused and test-oriented.

While 44.1 percent of the students said speaking was the most important part of English education, only 18.5 percent said grammar was, followed by vocabulary, listening, reading and writing.

In reality, however, 58.4 percent of them said grammar was treated as the most important at schools, while 9.5 percent said speaking was treated that way.

As to the reason, they said this was because students' grammatical ability is widely accepted as a key component of the college entrance exam.

Such dissatisfaction is expected to continue as many regional education offices have decided to reduce the number of native speaking English teachers at public schools this year.

The Incheon Metropolitan City Office of Education has cut this year's budget for employing native language teachers at its elementary, middle and high schools by 5.4 billion won ($4.9 million).

Also, the North Chungcheong Province Office of Education plans to cut its native teachers to 113 from 308 last year, while the Daegu Metropolitan Office of Education has decided to reduce the number of its native language teachers to 323 from 443.

The issue of Korean English education focusing too much on impractical skills has lingered for decades. However, given that the English section of the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) doesn't evaluate students' speaking and writing abilities, the ways of teaching English at schools have changed little.

"In fact, many public schools teachers are unprepared to teach English speaking and writing," a high school English teacher, who refused to be named, said. "So they stick to the old ways."

Recognizing the problem, the former Lee Myung-bak administration intended to replace the English section of the CSAT with NEAT, a test that evaluated not only reading and listening, but also speaking and writing.

But the government later decided to abolish the plan, citing concerns that the new test could cause a further increase in private tuition costs.

Critics say that the NEAT formula was doomed to fail from the start because few teachers were capable of teaching speaking and writing.

They also point out that the current education system, where public school teachers are barely re-trained and their performances are hardly evaluated, leaves the nation's English education still impractical and uncompetitive.

Last month, a court ruled that a 55-year-old English teacher, who had worked at a high school in Seoul for almost 20 years, should leave the school.

The decision came after the school fired him for incompetence. The school said he took his first-ever TOEIC in 2011 and earned 415 points out of 990.

The case showed that teachers' performances are not evaluated well under the current system.

관련 한글 기사

'회화보다 문법' 중고생 68% "영어수업 불만족"

정유경 동덕여중 교사 논문…69% '학교서 영어실력 못 키워'

우리나라 중·고등학생 10명 중 6∼7명은 현재 학교에서 진행되는 영어수업에 불만이 있다는 연구 결과가 나왔다.

학생들은 영어 중 말하기가 가장 중요하다고 생각했지만, 정작 학교 수업은 여전히 문법에 치중돼 있다고 느끼는 것으로 분석됐다.

14일 정유경 동덕여중 교사가 중앙대 한국교육문제연구소에 제출한 논문 '중·고등학생의 영어 사교육 실태조사 연구'에 따르면 학교 영어에 대한 중고생의 불만족도는 67.5%에 달했다.

조사 대상은 서울지역 6개 구 중학생 1∼3학년 598명, 고등학생 1∼2학년 392명 등 모두 990명이다.

'듣기·읽기·말하기·쓰기·문법·어휘' 중 가장 중요하게 생각하는 영역으로는 44.1%가 말하기를 꼽았다. 문법(18.5%), 어휘(12.8%), 듣기(11.3%), 읽기(10.8%), 쓰기(2.4%)가 뒤를 이었다.

말하기를 중요하게 생각한다고 답한 학생들의 61.4%는 그 이유로 '외국인과 의사소통을 위해 필요하고 영어권 나라의 문화를 이해하는 데 도움이 되는 영역이기 때문'이라고 밝혔다.

그러나 정작 학교에서는 자신들이 원하는 수업이 제대로 이뤄지지 않는다고 봤다.

영어 수업에서 가장 중요하게 다뤄지는 영역으로 58.4%가 문법을 꼽았기 때문이다. 말하기는 9.5%에 그쳤다.

학교가 문법을 중시한다고 여기는 응답자의 64.0%는 '시험 출제 비율이 가장 높고 좋은 성적이 상급학교 진학에 도움되는 영역이라서 그럴 것'이라고 생각했다.

영어 수업이 실질적인 쓰임보다는 시험을 위해 이뤄지고 있다고 여긴다는 것이다.

이런 생각을 반영하듯 전체 응답자의 68.7%는 '학교 영어수업만으로는 영어실력을 키우기 어렵다'고 평가했다.

특히 영어수업이 부족하다는 답변은 학년이 오를수록(중1 60.6%→고2 74.7%) 많아지는 추세를 보였다.

영어 사교육에 대해서는 필요하다는 생각이 우세했다.

84.4%는 '영어 사교육이 학교공부에 도움이 된다'고 답했다.

여건이 된다면 영어 사교육을 받을 의향이 있느냐는 문항에는 73.2%가 '있다'고 밝혔다.

영어 사교육이 필요하다고 생각하는 이유로는 40.7%가 '학교 수업만으로 영어를 잘할 수 없어서'를 꼽았다.

사교육을 받을지는 41.2%가 '어머니가 선택한다'고 답했다. 자신이 선택한다는 경우는 24.4%에 그쳤다.

이 연구 결과는 중앙대 한국교육문제연구소의 '한국교육문제연구' 최근호에 실렸다. (연합뉴스)

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