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00707012
2012.01
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KOREAN

Collaborative Efforts Critical to Foreign Language Education  Korean Language Teachers Meet at the ACTFL 2011 Convention  The 2011 convention of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages was held in Denver, Colorado on November 17-20. Under the theme of “Empowering Language Educators through Collaboration,” the annual gathering attracted some 1,500 language specialists from across the United States, and had the presentation of 697 papers and 35 workshop sessions.



Collaboration
for Foreign Language Education

The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), which has some 14,000 members, holds a four-day annual convention in a major U.S. city during the week prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. Papers carefully selected by the council are presented at the convention. On the first and last days of the gathering, workshops review the overall trends of foreign language education in the United States, which are open only to those who have registered in advance.


In her keynote address, ACTFL Chairperson Dr. Barbara Mondloch, of Tacoma, Washington, emphasized that collaborative efforts among educators from the primary to the tertiary level are essential for the development of effective foreign language instruction. This approach was also stressed by the guest speaker Dr. Milton Chen, who cited his work experiences as a senior fellow at the George Lucas Educational Foundation in San Francisco.

The ACTFL oversees various language education societies that promote the teaching of such languages as Chinese, Japanese, German, and Italian. During the convention, these registered societies have more opportunities to present papers and have discussions. For example, for the Chinese language, one society for tertiary-level education and another for the primary and secondary levels are registered with the ACTFL. Consequently, a total of some 100 papers concerning Chinese language education were presented at the 2011 convention. Moreover, the Confucius Institute and some 10 publishers also participated to promote Chinese education.



Progress in Korean Language Education in the U.S.

A special interest group (SIG) on Korean language education has participated in the ACTFL convention since 2008. In 2011, the group selected 10 out of 20 research proposals to provide them with research grants and opportunities to make presentation at the convention. Among them, the presentation on “Empowering the Korean Instruction by Focusing on Technology and Korean Culture,” by the Los Angeles Unified School District, received a highly favorable response.

The papers prepared by university researchers dealt with such subjects as “Common Student Errors in Korean Listening,” “Teaching Korean Non-honorific Speech Styles Using Multimedia Materials,” “The Current State of Korean Heritage Learners,” “Learning Outcomes Using a Cultural Video Project in a Korean Classroom,” and “YouTube in Teaching Korean as a Foreign Language.” A Korean SIG session, heard about the “National Flagship Program” being overseen by University of Hawaii Professor Sohn Ho-min and the U.S. Department of Defense, as well as the current situation of Korean language education in the United States.

Since Korean was designated as a language of strategic importance, its instruction has been actively encouraged at universities and expanded to primary and secondary schools in the United States. These days, over 5,000 high school seniors take the SAT Korean exam for university admission every year, making it the second most popular Asian language after Chinese. In his congratulatory remarks to some 60 attendees of the Korean SIG meeting, the Korea Foundation Los Angeles Office Director Bae Sung-won urged closer collaboration between the KF and related scholars to further improve Korean language instruction.

Progress in Korean Language Education in the U.S.

Outlook for Korean Language Instruction Outlook
for Korean Language Instruction

In addition, the American Association of Teachers of Korean, together with primary and secondary school teachers, are making efforts to systematize Korean language instruction so as to standardize Korean language education throughout the U.S. For example, a standardized evaluation system is being developed so that students can be placed at an appropriate level after they change schools.

To move forward with this standardization, intensified efforts are needed in particular regard to curriculum development and evaluation of the instruction process. Because the current curriculums differ from school to school, it is necessary to develop guidelines for curriculum design and implementation. Moreover, evaluation of the instructional process needs to be standardized as well. To this end, language specialists and educators need to cooperate more closely with each other so that research findings can be applied in the classroom. It is also urgent for the Korean government and business sector to support these endeavors.

If these basic needs can be satisfied, there will be a bright future for Korean language education in the United States and elsewhere. As such, it is important to take full advantage of opportunities, like the ACTFL conference, so that classroom teachers and university researchers can get together more frequently to share their information and expertise.

Cho Seong-dae Professor
State University of New York at Binghamton

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