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Heaven Snyder

C&T 598

Dr. Cho

20 June 2017

Byean (2015) and Choi (2008)



“To English teachers, linguistic skills and teaching techniques are undoubtedly important,

and the use of English in classrooms might be a good way to enhance students’ English

proficiency. However, the underlying assumption behind the TEE scheme is that, despite having

10 years’ schooling in English, students still cannot speak the language well because teachers are

not competent enough to deliver lessons using English only. The fundamental flaw here is that

by placing the blame on English teachers about students’ poor communicative competence, the

government appears to scratch only the surface manifestation of deeper contradictions within the

Korean educational system. It is important to note that a washback effect (I. Choi, 2008), or

teaching to the English test through first language (L1), is a consequence of competitive high-

stakes college entrance exams; in fact, it is the students who resist the TEE policy and CLT

approach by asking for teacher-oriented lessons in Korean on the ground that the two policies

may hinder them from obtaining higher test scores because the TEE makes lessons harder to

understand and activities based on CLT require more class time (J. Lee & Macaro, 2013; K. S.

Lee, 2014; Shin, 2007). More importantly, the TEE policy itself is problematic, for it does not
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acknowledge the importance of L1 in English learning (Auerbach, 1993; Cummins, 1992), nor

does it appreciate the expertise of multicompetent second language (L2) user professionals

(Cook, 1999, 2005)” Pg 8


We’ve noticed in teaching the students that often they’re familiar with lower-frequency

or more complicated English words, (for instance in class I asked what “rarely” meant and a

student answered “seldom”) but they struggle to speak conversationally with us. Taking this

quote in with what I know of the college entrance exam this disparity starts to make more sense.

They are taught a great deal of English and know a lot about English to appease the standards of

this all important test but when it comes to communicative competence they haven’t been well

served. Even if the government’s idea is to globalize by becoming a more English-speaking

country, they’ve created a test that yes, is important enough to make the populace care about it

but fails to accomplish what they actually wanted. And this, as the quote explains, really isn’t the

fault of teachers or students


What are the things we can do to make our students more comfortable in speaking with

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“The majority of Korean test-takers complain about the negative backwash effects of

multiple-choice EFL tests on their learning. In other words, most of them have to improve their

test-taking strategies rather than genuine English proficiency in order to obtain the high scores

required for employment. Under the circumstances, it is no wonder that the majority of Korean

people are not equipped with adequate productive (speaking and writing) English skills in spite

of all the time, money, and energy they invest in learning the language”. Pg 4 & 5


This quote echoes Byean’s concerns and mine about the nature of testing for English in

Korea. What are teachers to do if what is important -as decided by these tests- is that students

become good test takers? I’m critical of testing’s place in the American school system as well, I

fundamentally doubt that it is as easy as we want it to be to tell if someone is proficient in

something just by giving them a paper assessment over it. Personally I am not a great test taker, I

tend to take longer than others, I panic easily if I’m unsure about what I’m being tested over. So

my heart goes out to our students here that are facing a few important tests that do a lot to

determine their academic and professional career.


Knowing testing’s position in Korean society and history is it fair for me (as a non-

Korean) to oppose it outright?