Like most Asian countries, Education plays a crucially important role in Korean society. When “english
mania” was sweeping across the world, the Korean government made it their goal to produce a generation of english
speakers. After the Korean War, english
became a required foreign language in secondary schools, and later in primary schools. After decades of english
exposure in Korea, and having many english
words incorporated into the Korean language, some of the same problems continue to appear. It is important as a teacher
to know what these common problems are for Korean learners of english
, in order to be better prepared to solve those problems and adapt the lesson plan.
language and Korean language have very different origins, which makes the transition from one language to the other, in either direction, a difficult task.
The biggest differences between english
and Korean are the sentence structure and the syllabic or word structure. Although these languages use different alphabets, the english
alphabet is generally easily acquired because of its widespread use on signs below their alphabet, hangul. Korean students usually come to class with a familiarity of the english
alphabet, if they don't already know it.
The Korean language is a syllable timed language, which means that each symbol has an assigned sound, and the stress on the world as a whole is insignificant. english
, on the other hand, often uses word or sentence stress to convey meaning. and may be the reason why Koreans have a difficult time reading english
with a natural intonation. They often read or speak english
with a monotone, giving no special stress to any word or phrase.
Aside from the syllabic differences, there are many sounds in english
that just do not exist in Korean. F is often pronounced as P, resulting in the pronunciation of “phone” being “pone”. V is often pronounced as B, making it to pronounce simple words such as “have”. The soft “th” sound heard in “then” is often pronounced by Korean students as a “d” sound. “Then” is pronounced “den”. The hard “th” sound heard in “think” is also difficult for the Korean learner. When they speak this sound often sounds like an “s” sound, and they pronounce “think” as “sink”. In Korean, there is no distinction between the “R” and “L” sounds, so it is very difficult for Korean learners to pronounce those sounds differently in english
words. There are other pronunciation problems, but these are the most commonly heard.
In Korean grammar, no verbs are conjugated, and all information such as tense, mood, or relation to the speaker can be found at the end of the verb. The english
language uses multiple auxiliaries in order to provide that information. Therefore, it is common for Korean learners to leave out auxiliaries when they are forming sentences. Because they do not conjugate verbs, it is also common for students to leave off the –s on verbs in the 3rd person.
Korean will inherently have difficulties with the natural way english
is spoken. Korea is a very Confucian-based society, and as a result they express themselves in a very general and indirect way to avoid offending anyone. english
is a very direct language, and many Korean learners have trouble expressing themselves without over using vague words like "some", "any", or "maybe". When they do, it sounds very unnatural and confusing to a native english
speaker. Because they tend to think about the whole and rarely about the individual, they are prone to overusing "our" as a pronoun. Instead of saying "my teacher
," a korean student will often say "our teacher
", whether or not the person he/she is speaking with is a fellow student.
I have just touched on the common problems that Korean learners of english
have. As I said before, it is very important for a teacher
to learn about these problems before coming to Korea to teach, in order to prepare, adapt lessons, and be the most effective teacher