Asian Universities Switch to English – Newsweek: International Editions – MSNBC.com

Great article on a phenomenon that is going on here in Korea. This is something that has hit Seoul National University (SNU) particularly hard in recent years. SNU has traditionally been the top university in the country, but it is getting heavy competition from other top universities in the country, which could explain why they weren’t mentioned once in this article.

SNU is also instituting English-only classes in many of its programs. The problems with this system are varied. As pointed out in the article, these courses are rather weak given that neither the students nor the professors (on average) have a solid grasp of English. Another significant issue is that many of these courses have a policy that if ANY foreigner (non-Korean) is enrolled, the lectures will be in English. This is an attempt to attract more foreign students and, thus, improve their international status. The problem is that when you only offer classes in English on demand, professors never get a chance to practice conducting the class in English and the materials (those not already in English) need to be translated.

Lastly, it must be said that simply conducting classes in English isn’t going to improve education at these universities. While these universities are populated with some of the best students in the country (based on exam scores), the style of teaching is largely a stand and deliver approach. I’m I saying that this isn’t the dominant paradigm at Hardvard, no. I am saying that these schools aren’t going to get ahead of the game by playing by the same rules.

English is not a measure of an effective school and until these universities realize this, students will continue to flock abroad.

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