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English is a compulsory subject in Korean school, taught from the third year of elementary school (age 6-7) all the way to the final year of high school (age 17-18). This means that Koreans would have learnt the language for a total of 10 years by the time they finish high school. Ninety-eight percent of Koreans complete high school.
Together with Korean and mathematics, English forms the “three cores” of the school curriculum which are often said to determine one’s academic achievements and their chances of getting into elite universities.
It wasn’t until 1997 that the foreign language was started to be taught in elementary school. Before, Korean students learnt their ABCs in the first year of middle school.
The country has a rather unique law that bans English education to first and second graders at elementary school. The rationale behind it was to curb excessive early education.
But as many parents, wanting to give their children a head start, sent them to private English academies, the law has been tweaked to allow English to be taught to the young students as part of an afterschool program.
By Korea Herald (email@example.com