One of the greatest concerns for Ewha students, and university students in general is English. Although the trend is more emphasized today more than in the past, the need to learn English has been a part of Ewha since the beginning.
The tie between Ewha and learning English started from Ewha’s foundation in 1886, when Mrs. Kim (exact name unknown) visited the newly built campus established by the founder, Mary Scranton. The first student to be enrolled at Ewha, Mrs. Kim, wanted to learn English to become an English translator for the Queen of Chosun. As the school was founded by American missionaries, English was naturally chosen as the first and main subject taught to early Ewha students. English classes were divided into reading, conversation, and composition classes and the students learned to communicate in English freely with their foreign professors.
The focus on English continued in the 1920s when the school systemized its curriculum. According to the curriculum of the Liberal Arts Department in 1925, classes related to English comprised one third of the credits necessary for students to graduate. Also, students did not learn English just through professors’ lectures. In the 1930s, classes related to English drama were held as a part of the formal curriculum; the students took part in the entire process, from directing to acting. The first English drama played by Ewha students was Ivanhoe, a novel written by Walter Scott. Students also sometimes stayed in younghakkwan with foreign missionaries for an English learning camp that required students to speak only in English and helped them experience Western culture.
English became a general course in the curriculum similar to the current English classes after 1945. The Ewha Voice, the English newspaper in Ewha, was also a class under the guidance of Professor Kathleen Crane in which all 45 students of English Literature students had to participate in making the newspaper in their senior year.
In 1962, to help students struggling with English or other languages, the Ewha Language Institute was founded and provided students with 40 individual booths for listening. It had over four thousand English education tapes that students could borrow freely. Kim Yoo-phil (’80, Social Education) recalls, “Most of the students entering Ewha had high levels of English skills. Many students studied English through borrowing English listening tapes.”
Finally, the English Program Office was founded in 1997 to help students enhance their English ability and organize related programs like English Camp and English Clinic.