English : A Language of Opportunity
English : A Language of Opportunity
  • Lee Jung seungji 기자
  • 승인 2008.03.12 17:21
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Recently, most Korean University students have been spending their vacation studying English.  According to the Bank of Korea in 2005, annual expense for English education amounted to 3,400 billions won.  The average University student according to an MBC documentary spent 15,548 hours and around 21 millions won on studying English from middle school to University.  

In fact, one of the biggest parts of students’ daily routine on vacation has been spend studying for the TOEIC(Test of English for International Communication) at a language institute.  The majority of companies in use TOEIC scores as part of the initial on-paper screening of applicants.  Kim(23), a Sookmyungian, said, “English skills are such a crucial part of the employment process, so I have been pushing myself hard to get a high score during my winter vacation.”  Actually, the MBC documentary surveyed 72 people in charge of recruiting in both conglomerate and minor enterprises.  79.2 percent among them answered, “English skills have an effect on promotion and arrangement of salary scale.”  That is to say English skill does amount to successful employment in .  The present state of English absorption has been accompanied with the exorbitant price of English education.

Eventually, English speaking skills might be the one thing that will keep Sookmyungians from finding their place in the corporate world.  However, because it is a little unclear how English skills are really used in society, students feel stressful only about their test scores.  This is not always positive for either the prepared graduates or society.

Public Servants

Cities like Seoul and Daegu have been testing people hoping to become public servant by English interview.  The English interview is divided into two parts.  First, interviewers ask some questions in English, and then interviewees answer the question in English.  Second, interviewers ask some question in Korean, and then interviewees answer the question in English.  Kim(25), a candidate for a public servant examination said, “To tell the true, the English interview is a burden for me, but I can understand government’s intention that it is nationally beneficial that the public servants can communicate in English.”  

Private Enterprise

In fact, ’s leading conglomerates, including the Samsung Group, LG Electronics, CJ Group, Daewoo Electronics and Ottogi among others, have initiated plans to adopt new English proficiency tests for applicants as well as for current employees who are in line for promotion.  These new tests, mainly the OPlc(Oral Proficiency Interview Computer system), will focus on speaking and listening in English.  TOEIC and TOEFL(Test of English as a Foreign Language), another popular test, focus more on grammar and writing skills.  CJ was the first major company to act when it adopted the OPlc in 2006 for new applicants. 

Beginning as early as 2007, the company said, “The test will be a requirement for senior managers as well.”  The Samsung Group also announced, “They are looking at using the OPlc for their screening process beginning in 2007.”  Also, many corporations have been putting English interview into operation.  For example, LG Electronics asks interviewees the questions like “Explain fables and phrases in English” or “Explain and compare the cultural different between and in English.”  The English examination corresponds to not only applicants, but also employees who are in line for promotion.  It is a true that English skills determine advancement.  Besides, many corporations use English as a language within the company as in the cases of LG Electronic, GM Daewoo and Renault Samsung.

Other nations

Many non-English-speaking nations have intensified English education, too.  From 1980s, has strengthened English classes with the thought that ’ domestic demand is small and the country must grow through foreign trade.  Finnish students have been taught English classes which stress speaking and writing.  Also, Finnish children watch English TV dramas and movies without dubbing even before learning their mother tongue.  As a result, the IMD (Swiss International Management Development) counts as a nation to be distinguished as communicating in English.  is in same condition as .  The Republic of Turkey has also magnified English education since the 1980s.  Like this, English remains the most powerful language and language of opportunity in the world.

Points of Difference

Many countries have strengthened English skill, but their view of English is different to that of .  They believe that English is just a method of communicating with the world.  When people enter a profession in a foreign country, the corporations focus on specialized knowledge like human sciences than English skill. The former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Carly Fiorina, said, “Studying the transitional period between the Medieval Age and the Renaissance helped her foresee the coming of the digital age.”  Many foreign company employees focused on the specialized knowledge when they were in college. 

 A Finnish University student in said, “To be honest, studying English for employment is pretty amazing for me.”  She continued, “Our situation is compeletely different from ’s because Finns think that employment and English skill are different matters.”  Because has a similar view of language sphere, ’s case could have more suggestions for .  Kang(47), a doctor of philosophy, said in an lecture, “There are systems to support doctors and masters of Engineering with English in ,” so specialist in can devote themselves to their studies.  As a result, is more than a match for in terms of international academic publications.  In fact, the government has supported people who can speak and write English regardless of their employment sphere.  However, it is not all Japanese specialists but certain circle. 

Road toward Success

Recently, some companies in have lowered the weight they give to English when measuring aptitude and instead test knowledge of history and Chinese writing.  In the age of global management and commercial appeals to emotion, a plentiful background for specialists in diverse sphere is almost mandatory.  The creative insight and long-term perspective needed to analyze the next business trend requires knowledge like human sciences.  Prof. Kang stated, “It is important to study English in a desirable direction.”  He continued, “It is eventually beneficial for students, company and nation.” 

In the present day, when the reigns as the world superpower, among the 6.5 billion people on the Earth, one quarter can speak English.  At least 80 percent of the digital data flowing across the Internet is written in English.  Some worry that excessive private education costs for English will ruin the country, and others argue English should be made an official second language, meaning English would be taught from an early age in much the same way as .  No previous theories suggested English would dominate the 20th century, yet the power of English remains mighty, and English is still a language of opportunity.  University students’ ability is linked directly with the future of the nation.  


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