English as Foreign Language Instruction in Korean Preschools

By Kang, SoYoung; Lee, Lea | Childhood Education, Annual 2011 | Go to article overview

English as Foreign Language Instruction in Korean Preschools


Kang, SoYoung, Lee, Lea, Childhood Education


Two international outreach committee members, Kang and Lee, recently traveled to Korea and found that young children study English in child care centers, preschools, and kindergartens, as well as at home. Why are so many Koreans eager to teach young children English as early as possible? Kang and Lee observed that the Korean public's eagerness about preschool English education stems from the belief that English competency is essential for academic success. In general, English speakers are accepted to more prestigious schools and are better prepared for the global society. Therefore, children are exposed to English early, preparing them for academic success, which in turn guarantees better opportunities for higher social and economic status. In this article, Kang and Lee share two major instructional approaches for teaching English in preschools.

Conversational Language Instruction

The traditional approach to teaching English focused on grammar and vocabulary, whereas the current approach places more emphasis on conversational language because it helps preschoolers to practice the words, phrases, and sentences in English that are used in everyday settings. In this approach, children attempt to use English as they interact with one another in the classroom. This helps them to acquire expressive language instantaneously.

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Korean teachers make use of multi-sensory approaches that allow children to use visual, auditory, and kinesthetic activities while engaged in real-life, purposeful, and meaningful language experiences.

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