As the number of foreign exchange students is increasing, Korean students are becoming more proficient in English, and Ewha’s global status is rapidly heading up the slope. While these bode well for the university, students are expressing dissatisfaction toward English taught courses.
To objectively report students’ outlook and echo their voices on English taught classes, the Ewha Voice conducted a survey of 377 Ewha students, including foreign exchange students, who are enrolled in English courses.
According to the survey, a student takes an average of three English courses in a semester, and holds dissatisfaction toward at least one out of the three courses. About 56 percent of the students claimed to have felt discomfort and questioned the quality of English taught classes at Ewha.
When asked what aspects of the English taught classes were discomforting, the majority of the students checked “other,” with 33 percent. Under this category, 91 students pointed out the poor English of Korean professors.
“I like the class, but I am worried that foreign exchange students might not understand the professor,” said a Korean student who wishes to remain anonymous.
Placing second with 104 students supporting was “professors speaking and/or explaining in Korean.” As there are both Ewha and foreign exchange students in a classroom, professors often use Korean to clarify information that may sound confusing in English. However, there are professors who overuse Korean in a supposedly English taught course.
“Professors should use only English when explaining teaching materials in class,” complained a foreign exchange student who wishes to remain anonymous.
“Once, a student asked a question in Korean and without any translation the professor answered in Korean. I was unable to understand anything.”
Other responses included “classes based on student presentations,” with 81 students and “unprepared classes,” with 64 students.
When asked who holds responsibility over the poor English courses, 159 students ascribed the professor; 154 students blamed the school; 40 students pinned the students enrolled in the class; and 38 students responded other.
A critical cause of such complaints is that the school lacks regulations managing English courses. Without guidelines, English courses cannot verify how it operates.
“Though there are no set guidelines professors should follow, the Institute for Teaching & Learning is distributing a booklet on teaching methods for English courses and holding workshops and seminars with professors for effective expansion of English courses,” said Park Soo-kyung, official in charge of English courses in the Office of Faculty and Academic Affairs.
“We are aware of the problem and are discussing how to reduce problems and improve qualities of English courses with other universities.”