Academic journal article English Language Teaching

English for University Administrative Work: English Officialization Policy and Foreign Language Learning Motivation

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

English for University Administrative Work: English Officialization Policy and Foreign Language Learning Motivation

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study examines how the English officialization policy of higher education in an EFL context interplays with administrative workers' motivational orientations towards English learning. The data consisted of questionnaire responses of 117 administrative members with undergraduate degrees and qualitative interviews with 9 who answered the questionnaires. The descriptive and correlation analyses showed that the participants interested in learning English-speaking countries' cultures did not perceive much benefit of the English officialization policy (EOP) in increasing their motivation to learn English. On the contrary, those who appreciated the EOP tended to be motivated to learn English for external rewards. A striking finding was that those who related the EOP to increased motivation also showed a lack of motivation to learn English. Also noteworthy was that their motivation correlated significantly with their own perceived English speaking competence. The results corroborate the significant role of the perception of English speaking competence and the context of English use in language learning motivation at the post-tertiary level. The participants expressed feelings of confusion regarding the role of English in everyday work performance. The implications of these findings are discussed with a view toward the enhanced implementation of EOP policy in an EFL context.

Keywords: English for workplace, English officialization policy, L2 motivation, perceived speaking proficiency, university administrative workers

1. Introduction

For the past decade, in the midst of this increasingly interdependent and globalized world, Korean society has faced domestic and international competition. As a phenomenon in the 21st century, globalization, as seen in the present day, is shaped by various social changes, such as "an increasingly integrated world economy, new information and communications technology, the emergence of an international knowledge network, and the role of the English language, and other forces beyond the control of academic institutions" (Altbach, Reisberg, & Rumbley, 2009, p. 7). Since this major social change has profoundly affected higher education institutions (HEIs), Korean HEIs have responded to globalization and adopted a variety of strategies and policies to internationalize campuses. One of the major strategies is to expand the role of English campus-wide and shift English from a major foreign language to an official language. Apparently, this enforcement of English is mainly due to the role of English as the medium of international communication in various social sectors such as business, technology, science, and even the Internet (Crystal, 2000, 2008; Graddol, 1997; Swales, 1987). The strategy to officialize English has been enforced not only in education, but also in research and administration of HEIs in Korea.

For the task of the internationalization of education, Korean universities, like those in many Asian countries, have adopted English-medium instruction (EMI). As of 2011, about 30 % of the classes in some of the leading universities in Korea have been offered in EMI (Aju University, 2012). While second language (L2) researchers have reported positive and negative aspects of EMI (e.g., Chang, 2010; Cho, 2012; Jensen & Johannesson, 1995; Kahng, 1999; Manakul, 2007; Manh, 2012; Rivers, 2011; Tsuneyoshi, 2005), one Korean university, the research site of the current study, launched a foreign language policy which has expanded the English officilization policy (EOP) to administrative work. The EOP includes not only the official use of English in administrative acts, but also an additional foreign language assessment used to measure work performances. That is, a certain level of English competence is a prerequisite for the workers to fulfill their work responsibilities and to be eligible for promotions.

Changes in the work environment due to the EOP should affect the workers' orientations to develop and improve their English competence, i. …

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