Korean Language at KLWA 2010 till early 2011.
By Ebony BAE H.K.(Ms.)
1. Overview of KSWA
1.1. Six Classes at KSWA –
2 Alphabet classes, 2 Korean Introductory classes,
Korean class 3 and Korean class 4
1.2. Cultural lessons
1.3. Teaching manpower
1.6. School time Allocation
2. Case study - Korean Class 4: Evaluation from Jun. 2010 till Feb. 2011.
1. Overview of KSWA:
The number of Korean immigrants in WA has increased steadily since the early 1990s. The Hangeul School is available on Saturdays to teach their children Korean but many of these Korean immigrants do not seem too keen to take advantage of this facility to give their children a proficiency in the Korean language in Perth compare to Eastern states or South East Asia.
On the positive side, the Australian government has been giving some supportive of this school. There is currently a lack of teachers and undercharging students does not help the community to recruit good teachers. The school's first priority is teach Korean for second generation and the curriculum is for the young children in Perth.
1.1. Six Classes at KSWA
There are currently six classes operating at KSWA.
3 Korean Alphabet Classes are available for the 5 to 7 year olds. They are mainly 2nd or 3rd generation Koreans. Given the cosmopolitan nature of Australia, many of them have only 1 parent who may be Korean. Classes are made up of both Korean and non-Korean children. Ideally these 2 groups should be streamed into separate classes.
The Korean Introductory class where Korean 1 textbook is used teaches the students grammar, sentence structure, speaking and writing. The major problem in this class is the disparate learning levels of the individual students.
Korean Class 3 uses textbook Korean 2 and 3 in 2011 and there are two teachers to help with the two to three different groups of students in the class. Korean Class 4 uses textbook Korean 4, 5 and 6 as well as extracurricular.
Before 2011, Korean alphabet classes did not follow a fixed curriculum. In January 2011 it was decided at a teachers’ meeting to standardise the curriculum from February 2011 onwards and guidelines were introduced.
Korean Alphabet (Sun)
5~7 or more
Words from Introductory
Korean Alphabet (Moon)
5~7 or more
Words from Introductory
Introductory to Korean 1
6~8 or more
Words from Introductory
Introductory to Korean 2
9 ~ more
9 ~ more including 3 locals
Korean 2 & 3
10~16 years old
Korean 4,5 & 6
1.2. Cultural Lessons
Culture is an integral part of any language development and learning. Thease cultural classes cover topics like the meaning of the Korean flags, festivals, seasons and traditional food. Concerts also provide an avenue for students to apply them knowledge of the language and use it appropriately in the right social contexts.
1.3. Teaching Manpower
There are six main teachers and a few assistant teachers. Most of the teachers are volunteers. Honorarium levels are generally poor. This affects the recruitment of qualified teachers who will be able or willing to prepare quality teaching materials for the classes they hold.
Textbooks are given by KICE[i] (Korean Institute of Curriculum and Evaluation) Textbooks come with teaching guidelines. The teachers have agreed to follow the textbook from February 2011 onwards.
There are two tests in semester 1 and 2. Progress reports are given to parents twice yearly commencing in 2011.
1.6. School Time Allocations
KSWA opens at 9:30 A.M. and have a break between 11 A.M. till 11: 30 A.M. then it finishes at 12:30 P.M.
2. Case Study- Class 4: Evaluation from Jun. 2010 till Feb. 2011.
Class 4 was allocated to me (Ms. BAE) in June 2010. From the outset I experienced difficulty with the students’ fluency and accuracy with Korean. There were many gaps in their understanding and usage of grammar sentence structure, spacing and punctuation. This is exacerbated by their poor motivation and interest in the language.
They were mature enough to understand flow and writing but vocabulary was poor. Despite the good teaching of the previous teacher, Mrs. Lee, the students were still struggling to answer questions in the pre test for TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean).
I therefore devised a different teaching plan and implemented it in the 4th term. Lessons from textbooks were done first for two and half hours followed by an extra curriculum on basic rules of writing.
More than half of class showed the improvement and two students worked particularly hard and passed intermediate level of TOPIK. It was rewarding to see that a few of them could now listen and understand Korean better especially when enjoying Korean TV dramas compared to last year.
Textbooks are the minimum tools for these 2nd generation Korean migrants to equip themselves with adequate Korean. There are 3 types of vocabularies from Korean; Pure Korean, Western Korean and Chinese Korean. Even though Koreans can make sentences with pure Korean vocabularies, a higher level of Korean requires using Chinese Korean vocabularies (Hanja) such as in academic institutions, business and news. In the current system, it is barely possible to prepare students adequately for the basic proficiency test (TOPIK) which is offered to the students (2nd generation Koreans) and locals (foreigners) every 2nd week in September in Perth.
On the first day of school in 2011, assessment tests were conducted in all the classes. My group of students did not understand irregular verbs, counting nouns, onomatopoeic words and honorific although they should.
Although students know that speaking a second language is an advantage; they may not be highly motivated as the parents may be not involving in homework or encouraging the use of Korean at home. As students get older, standards and requirements also rise. At this point many students with a low interest level will stagnate. I was encouraged by my one hard working student who passed the proficiency test at intermediate level last year and meeting new students who take their lessons seriously. My extra preparation of were useful and rewarding particularly for those who took the lessons willingly and showed respect for the teacher.
In conclusion, the support we get from the Australian and Korean governments are a great start for the Korean language course after all not many governments have a budget for such activities.
It would be appreciated if the government could do even more by promoting use of the language as well as provide the funds. Meanwhile, are Koreans putting enough effort to teach their children just leaving the dilemma to someone else at the school? What about the students? Do they respect their teachers and complete their homework? Are they taking it lightly because language is not part of the university main entrance test as Japanese, Chinese and other European languages? Do we have experienced teachers?
There is a great deal of hope for Korean language education in Perth. In fact if more of next generation speak 2nd or 3rd languages, it is a great asset to the country for the next 100 years because education is an investment in the people that will benefit the country and this requires planning for the next decade. Language is a tool and a bridge to another culture.