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Public School -- A Balanced Approach -- Is it Out There? 
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Joined: Tue Sep 19, 2006 9:08 am
Posts: 48
Location: Imsil, Jeolla-buk-do, South Korea
Post Public School -- A Balanced Approach -- Is it Out There?
When I first taught in Korea six years ago, I found an English program still struggling to recover after year of a strict grammar-translation approach to learning English. The result being that anyone who studied English could read and write quite well, but good luck trying to have a conversation with them.

Now that I'm back in Korea and teaching in the public school system I see a new and very alarming problem growing. It has been decided that communcation should be the objective and that a communication approach is the answer. At first I thought that was great, but now I see that the program has simply gone to the other extreme. The elementary books have no writing in them for grade 3 and 4 (the first two years they study) and the alphabet is not introduced until grade 5 (and it is taught rather quickly with little thought). The grade 5 book actually has some vocabulary words written in English. Grade 6 has some of the sentences that are being learned.

I work in a small country area and most children do not go to any private English classes after school. The result of the public education program is that the children cannot read or write and many of them do not even know the complete alphabet after studying English for FOUR years. The problem gets worse in junior high school because immediately they are required to read whole paragraphs. I can't even believe that the program comes from the same education department. The kids just get further behind and studying English is just torture.

I find myself trying to force reading elements into the elementary schools quietly so the regular teachers don't tell me that their students don't study that yet. I feel like an alphabet drug dealer (Psst little boy, do you know what this is? It's an A.)

Is this just Korea, or have other countries been able to find balance in the publc school programs?


Thu Sep 21, 2006 9:01 am
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Joined: Tue Sep 19, 2006 10:28 am
Posts: 41
Location: Mexico
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Hi... unfortunately the system in Mexico is not that good either. We learn almost nothing at school but yes, when we go to high school or even to college we are expected to already "speak" English. Most people as you said cannot afford going to a private school and cannot graduate nowadays if they don't speak English well (my brother is having that problem now :( . I think as a teacher you are doing what you should as you are trying to help your kids and preparing them for the future. :)


Thu Sep 21, 2006 9:08 am
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:46 am
Posts: 2130
Location: Nagano, Japan
Post Re: Public School -- A Balanced Approach -- Is it Out There?
barnett7ya wrote:
I find myself trying to force reading elements into the elementary schools quietly so the regular teachers don't tell me that their students don't study that yet. I feel like an alphabet drug dealer (Psst little boy, do you know what this is? It's an A.)

That's a riot :smt042

I get the same thing from teachers all the time. It's hard for many teachers to see that spending time now on the alphabet, reading and phonics will save time in the future and help some students to hang in there.

I don't use written forms with students for several years but we cover the alphabet and phonics in that time. We do some reading but within their level of reading ability and when they're ready to move to texts they're pretty competent and that jump teachers expect at the junior high schools is possible. It only takes 5 minutes per class. Maybe you can ask for that. They should be able to give you that.

I know the frustration you talk about and the best thing is to try to swim with the current. If you try to go against it, you're just going to get tired. So, accept minor victories, even those are victories. Plus, you can always keep providing a fix to the alphabet junkies.

There are still some students who can't follow phonics and can't see the patterns, but it will be helpful to most, even if they can just get down basic hard consonant short vowel readings.

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Thu Sep 21, 2006 10:04 am
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