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College students doubt effectiveness of English-only classes

College students doubt effectiveness of English-only classes

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Published : 2013-12-05 20:22
Updated : 2013-12-05 20:22

Song Hong-bin, a 22-year-old college student in Seoul, regrets his choice of an all-English class this semester.

Unable to comprehend lectures and conversations, he is only left with frustration and a sense of inferiority.

“I chose the class to learn real-life English. But I feel like I’m being left out. Others seem to understand all the lectures,” he said.

“It’s more like showtime for English-fluent people to boast their ability. I don’t think my English improved.”

More and more universities are introducing English-only classes to improve students’ grasp of the language and help them better prepare for an increasingly globalized world.

But 4 in 10 students understand less than 60 percent of the content in such classes, according to recent research.

“Lectures conducted in English are not properly run given the low level of students’ comprehension and limited efficacy in improving students’ English skills,” Lee Kwang-hyun, education professor at Busan National University of Education, said in the paper based on his survey of 2,444 college students in fall last year.

Of them 37.1 percent responded that they had understood less than 60 percent of the courses.

Respondents who comprehended 80 percent of the class only reached 27.4 percent while about 3 percent of students understood less than 20 percent of the contents.

Those who understood between 60 and 80 percent of the class accounted for 35.5 percent.

Nearly half of the respondents considered the effectiveness as just average while only 1 percent of the total respondents said the course was very helpful and 24.1 percent thought it helpful.

About 26 percent said conducting classes in English was not helpful and 4.7 percent responded that their English never improved through the classes.

It also noted that more research and studies should be done to raise the class effectiveness and pupils’ satisfaction rather than just expanding courses.

By gender, female pupils had a relatively higher understanding. About 67 percent of women followed more than 60 percent of the class, while 58.9 percent of men did so, showing an 8.4 percent difference.

More than 40 percent of male students, on the other hand, understood less than 60 percent of the class whereas 32.6 percent of female pupils did.

By Lee Hyun-jeong (rene@heraldcorp.com)

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