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Campus NewsCampus Special
Is the system of university lectures spoken in English appropriate?
Jang Ji-yeon  |  Jiyeony930@gmail.com
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승인 2012.11.06  00:15:04
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It is a fair fact that English is important, even a 5-year-old child knows this fact. While the barrier between countries is caved in due to globalization, the ability to communicate is becoming more important than ever. Now, English has became as an official language.
Of course, universities cannot deny the trend of globalization. Nowadays, many foreigners come to Korea to learn, and most companies require English skill.
 
Why are English lectures applied in universities?
 
There is a view that English lectures are needed for foreign students who come to Korea. Besides, English lectures are opened to develop competitiveness of students and to gain a higher score on the annual surveys that determine how globalized universities are. In fact, The Joong Ang Ilbo scores and evaluates local universities annually. There are many assessment items (maximum is 50), and globalization is included. It includes areas dealing with English such as the rate of English lectures and number of foreign students. In 2012, CAU wasevaluated as one of the universities providing a high rate of English lectures.
Then how many English lectures exist at CAU? And how is the system of English lectures working?
 
CAU's English Lectures                
 
According to theacademicaffairsoffice, the percentage of English lectures conducted is 29.4% at the Heukseok campus and 18.6% at the Anseong campus based on major (basics and required).
Also, the number of English A and English B classes is respectively 316 and 318. They are almost the same. It seems that most majors have English lectures except for secondary foreign language classes like Japanese, Chinese, etc. Of course, there is no duty to register for English lectures. However, if required majors are opened only in English, students have to register for that course without much choice. In fact, many required and basic majors are only available in English. Korean lectures do exist, but the ratio between English and Korean lectures is almost the same (1:1). And often English lectures are more than Korean ones.
 
This problem can be attributed to the situation of short number of foreign professors. There are only about 80 foreign professors working at CAU. Therefore most English lectures may be conducted by Korean professors when the demand cannot meet the supply. Then how do other universities' English lecture systems operate?
 
Other Universities' English Lectures
 
Other universities are mostly experiencing the same situation. First, KAIST had problems in 2011. All of their major classes were in English, and students had to take half of their liberal arts classes taught in English. However, according to the professors of KAIST, lectures spoken in Korean are partly possible. Second, as for Yonsei University, English lectures are based on spoken English, which is different from CAU where English lectures are divided into two classes: A and B. Like KAIST, Korean is possible according to professors. Lastly, Chungnam National University, has many liberal arts classes spoken in English and the lectures include discussions and team projects. They are opened to help students understand major lectures, which are spoken in English. CAU should learn from this well intended lecture system.
 
As mentioned earlier, English is important and needed. Thus, CAU opened many English lectures. However, are these lectures appropriate?
 
INTERVIEW / International Logistics Sophomore, You Ho-sang
CAH: How many English lectures do you take?
This semester I am taking three classes in my major and one lecture is taught in English.
When we were freshmen, we had the right to select lectures. However, I heard that this year, every major for all freshmen are taught in English. They have no choice but to listen.
 
CAH: Are you satisfied with the system? If you are not, tell me the reasons.
Of course, I am satisfied with some lectures. However, this satisfaction is different. It is more like adaptation. I know English is important, especially for my major, but sometimes I think we shouldn’t have to take English lectures, because professional knowledge requires complete understanding. And a lack of English ability can hinder it).
 
CAH: Do you have a good idea of how to develop a English lecture system?
I think the best way is to increase Korean lectures for many students who have difficulty studying. If that is impossible, the next best way is to increasing lectures to support English classes. Although The EZ Lounge exists, many students don't know what it is and how to use it.
 
CAH: Do you think that your friends understand English lectures?
First of all, students who have experience studying abroad have an advantage. They almost always understand all of the contents of a lecture. However, students in general register for English lectures to earn good grades, even though they can't understand the classes. Regarding this, I think the purpose of the university is getting spoiled. It is starting to be an institution where students gather only to earn a grade.
 
CAH also interviewed some other people, and most of them said English lectures are needed but are not appropriate. Professors who are Korean but do English lectures said "I am not good at English, I know. I think some subjects don’t need to be taught in English."
 
According to students and professors, it is certain that there are problems. Let’s take a look at some of the core problems and solutions.
 
Problems & Solutions
 
The problem can be summarized into one sentence. "Appearance is deceptive."
In detail, English lectures are ineffective unlike its initial intentions to globalize the university.
Following is an interview and a paragraph that explains the ineffectiveness. Basically, English classes do not consider the different characteristics of each major. Also, not only students, but also professors have difficulty. Of course, professors are experts in their fields, but native English speaking may be difficult. Even though they have studied abroad, we cannot deny the fact that they are still Korean.
For this reason, the main point of lecture changed from studying, to understanding English.
Also, some people say English lectures are for foreigners. But at CAU the rate of foreigners is just 8% (1066), and most are Chinese (691). It can't be the only reason that English lectures exist. Finally, many students understand that, in order to develop competitiveness, English is essential. However, to develop competitiveness truly, correct study must be possible. If English lectures continue, student cannot aquire professional knowledge perfectly. To solve this problem, more lectures for the required majors should be taught in Korean. Also, The English B lecture system should be changed. Now it is basically an English book and a half English lecture. But if books are translated into Korean, and distributed to students, it may be better than it is now. Of course, university accreditation is needed to make CAU better. But it is not a good method if it infringes on student's learning rights in order to increase the score of the university’s internationalization. The persons concerned consider not only the appearance that other see, but also effectiveness and difficulty for students.
 
Japan has fewer English lectures. Instead, there are well-published books from which undergraduates can aquire professional knowledge step by step. Although they do not have English lectures, Japan's learning competitiveness does not fall behind in the world. However, our learning competitiveness is less than that of many other countries like Japan. So we need English lectures to develop our competitiveness. We just need to enforce an appropriate and well-made system. If we do that, we, students and the university, may be happy altogether.
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