According to the Korea National Statistics Office, Korea is one of the most English education-savvy countries in the world, consuming a lot of money for studying abroad2 billion dollars in 2003to achieve English proficiency and become fluent speakers. This is, not to mention the time and effort that are being put in. Recently, as a solution for increasing aspiration for English education English immersion communities are being organized, and are under construction or already in businesses. In addition, official exhibitions like English Expo 2004 are held from Dec. 2 to 5 in Seoul to inform and suggest the right path for English education in Korea.
The Division of International Cooperation of the Seoul Metropolitan Government is promoting the English village project to increase English abilities of its citizens. It hopes that through the project, Seoul would ultimately turn into an international hub city in Northeast Asia. At present, there are two English villages in business. According to feedback from participants of these two villages, people were willing to visit the English-only villages again if they had a chance. As a result, the local governments have approved of 12 English villages including the Global Center in Busan, the English Intensive Camp (EIC) in Gwangju, the English Camp in Chungcheong Province. Some of them are to be opened in the year 2006.
More than 2,000 people have experienced the programs in English village in Ansan, and they are satisfied with believing that it is an every day English life, effective way of learning English. The chairman of Korea Association of Teachers of English (KATE), Prof. Kwon Oryang of Seoul National Univ. says, organizing English villages can attract and restrain money that are refluxing from Korea. Also they can provide direct and actual experiences in learning English which are crucial but lack in Korea and the reason why people try to go to English speaking countries.
However, there are also concerns that Korean people and the society are ignorant about Korean culture and Hangul. People with such opinions are not denying the importance of English abilities nor are they anti-Americanists. Yet, they insist that the society emphasize English abilities in a sense that people do not neglect or disdain understanding their own culture.
"We all know how Korean people are enthusiastic and concerned about learning English. Yet, the exploding energy hasn't found its right, proper way to aim for. If we make use of the potentials of the energy, Korea can become the Northeast Asian center of English Education," says Yoon Tae-hee, the Executive Advisor of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the chairman of the Organizing Committee for English Expo. It is evident that present Korean society tend to allow a big portion of their money, time and concerns for English education, however, before letting Koreans swept away in such trend they need to be confirmed that English-ism or Americanization is the last reason for English education.