New English test plan faces backlash
Critics say revised college exam will worsen education craze
“Students from wealthy families will benefit most, because their parents can afford paying for private tutoring with native English-speaking teachers or can send them overseas for language studies,” said a mother of a 16-year old boy.
Kim Seung-hyun, a director of civic group “World without Worries about Private Education,” echoed the view.
“Without investing in school infrastructure and increase the number of teachers, it will only drive more students to seek private English lessons for speaking and writing,” he said.
There were people who expressed hopes about the government’s efforts to change the way English is taught at schools.
“I personally think that it is a move in the right direction,” said an English teacher at a middle school, requesting anonymity. “English should be taught in a way that helps students express themselves in the language, not as something that they just understand,” she said.
The Education Ministry said the NEAT will have a level of difficulty so that students can score well with what they learn at school. For example, pronunciations will not count heavily, provided it is comprehensible, it said. School teachers will be offered intensive training in teaching speaking and writing, the ministry said.
English is taught from the third grade in Korea, but many believe the nation’s rigid public school system fails to properly teach the language.
According to the IMD World Competitiveness report, Korea ranked 46th out of 59 in English proficiency and 51st in the pupil-teacher ratio in primary education and 53rd in the same ratio in secondary education.
Korean parents spend a large portion of their income on education of their children. In 2010, households spent an estimated 20.9 trillion won to educate their children at private institutes, down 3.5 percent from a year earlier.