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South Korea Goes Glocal with Web

A recent article in the Taipei Times by Nigel Daly helped me get some perspective on a concept very central to English, baby!. Our central idea has always been to provide a compliment to classroom learning, a place to practice the English skills you learn while having fun. That always made sense to me–the person on the abroad trip who dates a local always learns the language faster–but after a small window into the Taiwanese model of English eduction, it seems more necessary than ever.

English exams to get into schools or jobs are big deals in Asian countries so it’s no surprise that their education system is geared toward them. But according to Daly, some Taiwanese schools are so focused on the tests, the teachers speak Chinese to help the students understand what English they need to memorize! The result is a lot people passing the test whose memorized knowledge is about as useful in an actual English conversation as ancient Greek.

So, Daly argues, we must think “glocally.” “Glocal,” of course, is a portmanteau “global” and “local” and the global side of English and the doors it opens internationally are easy to see. It’s the local side that is both necessary to really the language and hard to come by. Daly supports a restructuring of the educational system in Taiwan. In the mean time, there’s the Internet.

I was surprised to learn from this Reuters piece that South Korea not only has the most students learning English in the US, but also is experiencing the largest Web boom for English eduction. In fact, private English instruction in Korea is a $13 billion dollar a year industry.

Any user of our site will notice there are many countries more represented than South Korea. It sounds like Koreans favor Skype-style real-time voice lessons so that would explain why their physical presence in the US hasn’t translated to such an overwhelming presence on our site.

Although I see the appeal of Skype lessons, I actually prefer the social network style English, baby! uses. It’s more casual and further from a classroom environment. Nonetheless, the size of the Korean market and their interest in real-time voice lessons is certainly something to think about. In any case, I think it’s great to see more and more people who aren’t able to study in another country use the Web to fulfill the local end of the glocal equation.

Image: Oddly enough, “glocal” seems to be a buzzword among church folk as well.

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One Response to “South Korea Goes Glocal with Web”

  1. Blog » Blog Archive » World Passport | English, Baby! Says:

    […] I was researching the post on glocalism that I put up earlier today, I discovered the existence of global passports, a discovery that was […]

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