Friday, April 22, 2011

English Deciding Factor in Success of Office Workers in KOREA



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English-language skills have become the determining factor for the success of office workers, with many companies considering English test scores an important criterion for promotion and favoring conversation skills over standardized tests like the TOEIC and TOEFL.
More and more firms use English for their intranet boards, meetings and reports. One 35-year-old deputy director at an IT company said, “The reality is that even divisions where English is not needed for work have to speak it. When there are restructuring plans, rumors spread that those who can’t speak English are most likely to get laid off.”
According to a survey by job portal Job Korea in January of 2,042 salaried workers about their regrets in the recession, 27.2 percent picked poor English skills, 25.1 percent chose lack of professional skills or licenses, and 15.3 percent answered lacking a degree from prestigious university.
Among students at English-language schools around the business district in Gangnam, Seoul, office workers have a significant presence. “The English component in reviews for promotion was changed from a TOEIC score to conversation skills. I score fairly well on the TOEIC thanks to the vocabulary I learned at university, but there is no better option to improve my English conversation skill. That’s why I come here early in the morning,” one said.
Lunchtime classes at a school are packed with office workers. A staffer said, “Unlike university students who tend to give up one or two months after taking classes, more than half of these employee students take classes for more than a year. That shows how desperate they are.” 
The English divide deepens when it comes to recruitment of fresh graduates. Average English proficiency is not enough in a generation where many have been educated abroad or gone through intensive courses from an early age, a human resources manager at Shinsegae Group said.
A 27-year-old jobseeker added, “It seems that Korea is going the same way as India, where totally different jobs are available for those who can speak English and those who can’t.”
As you can see in the picture above, the office workers are studying English through class discussions. Where the teacher most probably the one talking most of the time as always the case with this kind of set up.  This kind of studying scheme if your goal is to become fluent in speaking is not good.  There is a saying," If you want to write...write a lot, if you want to speak...speak a lot."   But, pity for a lot of Language learners doesn't really know and couldn't find the best method matches their need.  As I read in one language book, the author said, " Why are you focusing on grammar learning.   Do you want to become a grammarian?"   In other words, grammar learning is not the key to learning how to speak fluently.   

And as the article above stated:  more than half of these employee students take classes for more than a year. That shows how desperate they are.” 
Huh!  "more than a year"?  Granting the fact that they learned English since high school, so more than 7 years of studying English. Wow!  That is really a colossal amount of time and effort besides money.  And yet, perhaps if you are going to interview some of them, they are still not satisfied nor can't speak fluent English.   Where if  they will try other method of studying like what I'm using in teaching Koreans... oh,  within less than a year they could feel the difference. 

Number one tip and my  requirement in learning a language to adult is be like a child.   As I learned from different Linguist like Chomsky, according to him, "  a child could not possibly learn a language through imitation alone."   While according to  David Crystal's  theory that children learn language in five stages, which aren’t clearly defined and some tie in with each other.
These stages are:
Stage One:
This is where children say things for three purposes:
  1. To get something they want
  2. To get someone’s attention
  3. To draw attention to something
"Over three or four years, children master the grammar of the language. When they attend their first school year."

According to Jean Aitchison  a Rupert Murdoch Professor of Language and Communication in the Faculty of English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford.

In 1987, she identified three stages that occur during a child’s acquisition of vocabulary: labeling, packaging and network building.

1. Labeling – The first stage and involves making the link between the sounds of particular words and the objects to which they refer e.g. understanding that “mummy” refers to the child’s mother. In other words, associating a name with something.
2. Packaging – This entails understanding a word’s range of meaning. This is when Over extension and Under extension become a hurdle in the development of the language.
3. Network Building – This involves grasping the connections between words; understanding that some words are opposite in meaning.Aitchison argued that there are no EXACT dates to which a child reaches a certain stage of learning language – some children learn faster than others. She believed that the speed of learning is influenced by both innate abilities and environment. Language is partly learned by imitation, so parents and brothers/sisters play a role in the acceleration of learning the language. Baby talk whilst learning to speak could hinder the child in learning to speak later on. Speech timetablecreated from birth to ten years old. 

And how about Piaget...

Sensori-motor Stage (0 – 2 years)Baby can differenciate from self and objects

Parent: Where’s the ball?
Child: *points to ball* Ball!
P: Yess! And now where’s Tommy?
C: *points to self*
P: Yesss!
Pre-operational Stage (2 – 7 years)

Can classify objects as a single feature

P: Tommy, can you make a pile of all the yellow bricks?
C: Yes mummy look!
P: Well done!
Still thinks egocentrically

C1: Dolly is sad
C2: No! Dolly is happy!
C1: No!
C2: Yes!
C1: No!
Concrete operational Stage (7 – 11 years)

Can think logically about objects and events and achieve conservation of number

C: Tomorrow I start ballet, and then I will go every week
Teacher: Oooh! Thats lovely! How old are you now?
C: 7!
T: Now – please can you put these in order for me?
C: Yep! *gets it right*
Formal operational Stage (11 years +)

Becomes concerned with the hypothetical, the future, and ideological problems

C: When I grow up I want to be a doctor
P: And how will you achieve that?
C: I’m going to work really, really hard at school and then get lots and lots of money and then get married, and have children, and live happily ever after!"

Now, did you get it?  To sum it up... children learn to speak by schedule, not only by imitation but rather exposure to the language several times over and over again  by talking to their mother without grammar lessons yet.  And when they reaches their first grade in school when they can  say what they want and feel,  that is the  time they learn grammar. 
Do you understand now?  So, if it is still unclear to you then learn more by checking  my method and about language acquisition  in this blog and you will understand how the brain works and give you tips on language learning with fun.  

Hasssshhh.... you are studying "grammar,grammar,grammar", for so many years you are studying that...listening to your teacher's boring lectures while you are feeling sleepy. When are you going to start talking???