Mother Brand English as an Effective Approach to Teach English for Young Children as a Foreign Language in Korea

By Seung-Yoeun, Yoo; SookHee, Lee | Reading Improvement, Winter 2006 | Go to article overview

Mother Brand English as an Effective Approach to Teach English for Young Children as a Foreign Language in Korea


Seung-Yoeun, Yoo, SookHee, Lee, Reading Improvement


Parents must be the first teachers and the best English teachers for children in their whole life. Now in Korea, some brave and challenging mothers are innovating new English approaches in their homes with their young kids. They have goals that their children come to possess the ability to use the English language as a vehicle to think and solve problems and communicate for making creative and productive participation in our global society. These parents also implement English approach called Mother-Brand English or Home-brand English. "Mother-Brand English" is a movement to influence children to experience linguistic and cultural diversity at home. It is imperative that children understand a wide world with a variety of cultures and the English language as English learners. Those parents explore many different kinds of children's literature and inspiring readers and critics based on those books. These mothers have an increased capacity for enhancing and understanding the quality of English-teaching based on use multi media and written materials.

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The number of elementary, middle and high school students going overseas to study has been increasing in recent years and it continues to do so today. As a result, South Korea's international balance of tuition fees made by students going overseas to study suffered a deficit of ($1.85 billion) last year (The Korea Times, 2004). In order to send their children to study abroad with their mother, fathers called father geese stay alone in South Korea while their wife and children are sent to adjust to the new school and a new country.

For this reason the number of father geese that send their wife and children to study English and have business jobs in South Korea has increased during the last decade. The main purpose of studying abroad from primary school is to become fluent in English; however, it results in a lot of financial payments and the sacrifice of a cozy family net.

There are two types of language learning as a second language. The first one is called simultaneous acquisition, which occurs when parents speak more than two languages. For example, the father speaks English and the mother speaks Korean from a very early age. The other approach for second language learning is described as "sequential or successive acquisition" which occurs when children start to learn another language after the mother language is somewhat obtained.

The second approach has been often seen in the public school system because the National Curriculum in elementary schools in South Korea provide English classes twice a week from the third grade. Each English class has fifty minutes. Of course, some mothers don't think this is enough time for children to learn English.

Generally speaking, many people believe that children easily learn a second language in school after they establish their first language in the family from the time of the children's birth. However, contrary to those widely held beliefs, learning English from young child at home has been spreading in South Korea. A basic key factor of supporting children as English language learners is establishing an atmosphere of natural context of English surroundings at home.

Some parents want their children to learn English from early infancy. These parents prefer their children to enjoy valuable children literature all by themselves in English instead of translating children books that might lose their value and essence. In particular, well-known classical books by Eric Carle, John Burningham, Marice Sendak and Audrey Wood, who are authors of famous picture books in English-speaking countries, are commonly used. Some mothers who encourage young children to learn English from infancy believe that there is a little gap between cognitive developmental level and English level related to a variety of materials such as a picture books, animation movies, and other children's media stuff if their children learn English in primary school. …

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Mother Brand English as an Effective Approach to Teach English for Young Children as a Foreign Language in Korea
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