Culminating Project Title
Linguicism? English as the Gatekeeper in South Korea: A Qualitative Study about Mother's Perspectives and Involvement in Their Child's English Education
Date of Award
Culminating Project Type
English: Teaching English as a Second Language: M.A.
College of Liberal Arts
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
Keywords and Subject Headings
linguicism, English education, hagwon, doeji mom
The rising demand to learn English has become a common phenomenon in many parts of the world. South Korea is no exception. English has become the most important foreign language in a largely monolingual society that rarely uses English in its daily context (J.S.-Y. Park, 2009). English has gained high status since the Korean War (1950-1953) in the Korean context (Grant & Lee, 2010). Education policies in the 1990s further strengthened its stance boosting the ‘English fever’. Because English stands as the gatekeeper to college admission, employment and promotion, Koreans invest heavily into English learning. But the financial expenditure of English education differs along the socioeconomic spectrum, creating inequality. Such inequalities have been referred as the English Divide “where English speakers have more power and access to resources while the non-English speaker are disadvantaged in many ways” (Tsuda, 2008). Learning English begins at a young age in Korea. For young students, mothers are the managers who decide where and how to get more English education. Korean mothers have been known for their fervor in their pursuit of their child’s academic success contributing to the competitive environment that aims for high academic achievement. In this study, I take a look into how mothers are contributing to reinforcing the stature of English. This study investigates 10 Korean mothers on their perspectives of English and how their perspectives influence their involvement in their child’s English education. Findings reveal that social demands, the effect of globalization and competition among students and mothers prompts them to closely monitor their child’s English education. Conversing with other mothers provide insightful feedback about hagwon and where their child is at compared to others but also creates anxiety and further competition.
Lee, Young Jin, "Linguicism? English as the Gatekeeper in South Korea: A Qualitative Study about Mother's Perspectives and Involvement in Their Child's English Education" (2018). Culminating Projects in English. 123.