South Korean college students spend more time studying English than they do studying for their majors, a state-run research body said Sunday.
Students spent an average of 8.89 hours studying on a weekly basis, and the amount devoted to English was 3.94 hours, according to the survey by the Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training. Students set aside only 1.98 hours a week to study for classes under their academic majors.
The survey, conducted on 1,123 juniors and seniors across the country, also found that students spent an average 205,000 won ($192) a year on private education and half of that was spent on learning English. This is more than twice the amount spent on private education for their majors.
The results reflect Koreans’ zeal toward learning English. Education Ministry data in February showed that 6.3 million won was spent on private English education for elementary, middle and high school students in 2013, the highest among all subjects.
English proficiency scores are a hiring requirement at most major companies in Korea, regardless of their industry.
According to a survey by job search website “Saramin,” 69.3 percent of the recruiters at local companies said English scores were a factor in looking for people to hire. They said applicants with “business English speaking abilities” are most likely to be preferred by companies.
With the prolonged economic slump keeping the employment rate low, the imminent challenge for college students has become procuring high enough English scores to get a decent job.
Students, however, said they would not jump at just any job. The KRIVET survey showed that job security was a big factor: 71.8 percent of the respondents said they did not want a temporary job. Also, 62 percent said a long commute was another reason to turn down a job offer.
The data also showed that female students spent more time and money on studying than their male counterparts. Women studied 9.74 hours a week and spent 301,000 won annually on private education, compared to 8.39 hours and 149,000 won by men.
In addition, students in Seoul-based universities studied an average of 10.47 hours a day, more than the 8.38 hours by students in regional colleges.
Education-related majors pored over books the longest at 14.32 hours a week, followed by social science and natural science majors, who studied for 10.79 hours and 9.02 hours, respectively.
The hardest working students were also those looking to make the most money, the survey found.
The expected monthly salary of students who studied for less than two hours a week was 2.05 million won. Those who studied for 2-14 hours said a week they wanted 2.13 million won, while those studying over 14 hours sought 2.21 million won.
By Yoon Min-sik (firstname.lastname@example.org