[KS] KSR 2001-07: _Hanin Hakkyo-Ui Han'gugO Kyoyuk YOn'gu_

Stephen Epstein Stephen.Epstein at vuw.ac.nz
Tue Jul 17 00:26:41 EDT 2001

_Hanin Hakkyo-Ui Han'gugO Kyoyuk YOn'gu_ (Studies on Korean in Community
Schools). edd. by Dong Jae Lee, Sookeun Cho, Miseon Lee, Min Sun Song, and
William O'Grady. Technical Report No. 22, Second Language Teaching and
Curriculum Center. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i, 2000. 254 pages (ISBN

Reviewed by Myoyoung Kim
SUNY Buffalo

[This review first appeared in _Acta Koreana_, 4 (2001): 159-63.  _Acta
Koreana_ is published by Academia Koreana of Keimyung University.]

The book _Hanin Hakkyo-Ui Han'gugO Kyoyuk YOn'gu_ provides rich information
on Korean Language schools and classes in the United States, theoretically
as well as practically. All articles in this volume are in Korean, which is
unusual and clearly shows that most readers of the book will be Korean
teachers or parents. It is encouraging that in the United States there is a
demand for books published in Korean. However, fewer readers will be able
to access it than if it were in English. The case studies and report of
current trends are confined to settings in the United States alone. The
book is composed of two parts; the first consists of five chapters in which
a general introduction to bilingual language education, and external
factors of language acquisition such as motivation and parental support are
introduced. The second part of the book deals with various topics related
to Korean language education in the U.S. Topics in the second part cover
theoretical background and reviews of literature on various aspects of the
Korean language, including Korean-English contrastive syntax and phonology.
Case studies then illustrate the whole spectrum of speaking, listening,
reading, and writing in terms of acquisition and language development.

In chapter 1, "Korean Language Education in the United States" by Ho-min
Sohn, directions in Korean language education are explored. The author
reports on the status of Korean language education in the United States
from a language education administrator's point of view. This article
explains why Korean language teaching/learning is especially important and
worthwhile in the United States. The author offers an explanation for why
Korean language education has continued to increase since 1970 and reports
on the status of current Korean language education in different school
settings. He also provides a demography of the number of Korean language
learners. Finally he makes some suggestions on how to develop Korean
language education in the future, and outlines the ultimate goal of such

In chapter 2, "Bilingualism" (Miseon Lee), the author reviews the
theoretical background of bilingualism. She begins the chapter with a
definition of bilingualism, and then focuses on second language
acquisition: the factors that affect acquisition, English as a second
language for a minority population and the development of the first
language, and the role of input for bilinguals. She also summarizes
features of bilingual children's language use, such as language choice,
code mixing, and code switching. Psychological factors such as attitude are
also considered. By presenting the advantages of speaking two languages for
children in terms of their language development, cognitive development,
academic achievement, and development of personality, she tries to calm the
concerns of parents and to correct wrong assumptions. At the end of this
chapter, she concludes that to be successful, Korean-English bilingual
education must be a coordinated effort by the Hangul School and the
parents' Korean language education at home, and should meet the United
States government policy on bilingualism.

The third chapter, written by Dong Jae Lee, calls for parental support of
the Korean language education of Korean-English bilingual children. The
author returns to the topic of parents' concerns by providing optimistic
research results. He briefly contrasts theories of language acquisition
(contextualized) with foreign language learning (decontextualized) and
suggests that parents should be major providers of great amounts of input
in the context of real life situations.

Chapter 4 treats ways to develop diverse teaching methodologies in order to
enhance family motivation (Heyoung Kim). The author provides teaching tools
that can be used in Korean language classrooms and which focus on all four
aspects of language: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. I think the
part on teaching reading is very good and useful, and so is the section on
teaching speaking/listening. She makes the point that in natural
communication, listening and speaking go together, so these two aspects
should not be separated in teaching. However, she did not sort the
materials by levels, so it would be better if she suggested materials in
terms of beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. The section on
teaching writing seems to be a little unrealistic, especially section 4.2.
The activity is too challenging for students, and they will only be
frustrated. In addition, it is not clear whether by teaching writing the
author means teaching spelling or how to make better compositions.

In chapter 5, Chang-won Kim argues that children's literature can be used
as a second language teaching tool, and suggests a list of age-appropriate
books. The books on the list are classified by genre, complexity of
vocabulary, and level of grammar according to the reader's age. The books
are real examples so they are very practical for both parents and teachers.

In the second part of the book, specific topics are explored which focus on
each aspect of language learning: syntax, lexicon, phonology, and literacy.
Background information comparing the two language systems precedes a
chapter of case studies.

Two chapters (chapters 6 & 7), both written by Sookeun Cho, are devoted to
the onset of syntax acquisition. In separate chapters, the author
summarizes the syntactic difference between English and Korean. If the
author intended to provide information for laymen on the basic structure of
Korean grammar, this chapter is too technical, and it would be better to
focus on a small number of specific features that are unique to Korean in
contrast to English, such as honorifics, word order, the function of verb
endings, and the particle system compared to English. This would be more
useful in real teaching situations. In the succeeding chapter, he first
outlines the stages of monolingualism in English and in Korean language
acquisition. Because Korean children who are growing up in the United
States are expected to speak English, their Korean is more likely to be
influenced by some aspects of English such as word order, the omission of
particles, use of the passive, or the structure of relative clauses. The
author points out the problematic structures in order to recommend what is
helpful for Korean-English bilingual children's sentence acquisition.
However, his description is too broad as well as very technical, and he
tries to cover too many topics.

The next chapter (chapter 8) concerns Korean-English bilingual children's
lexical acquisition (Miseon Lee). Since there are not many studies of
lexical acquisition of Korean, her study is meaningful. However, there are
some weaknesses: The words used in this study are mostly the ones that are
very Korean-oriented in terms of culture: kinship terms, 'wear' verbs,
honorifics, number, and counters. If her intention were to see whether
children can use these words and to draw from this the conclusion that they
are fluent bilinguals, it would be a fine argument. However, she does not
provide information on when Korean monolingual children acquire those
words. She presupposes that Korean-American children acquire such words
late, so that they must be overtly taught these words. In educational
settings, teachers have noticed that many students choose very culturally
oriented Korean words correctly because parents, who consider them to be
very important keys to understanding Korean culture, emphasize these words.
However, these students tend not to know very basic verbs because most
parents permit the use of English words in otherwise Korean discourse, and
whenever they insert English words, they are hardly ever corrected. Kinship
terms, on the other hand, are always corrected. In addition, the author
focuses on structures that do not have semantic equivalents in English. She
seems to assume that Korean-English bilingual children at the same level
have mastered the basic verbs and acquired the basic nouns that Korean
monolingual children acquire early. From my own teaching experience,
students usually know the culturally embedded lexical items, but even if
they understand certain basic words in speech they are unable to produce
these correctly.

The next two chapters (chapters 9 & 10) are about the acquisition of
phonology. A case study (Min Sun Song) follows a review of the phonological
structure of English and Korean (Sang-I Chun). Two experiments were
conducted for the case study; a mastery test with a single stimulus, and a
contextual test with paired stimuli. Results show that unlike foreign
language learners, three-way distinction of Korean obstruents
(plain-aspirated-tensed) does not cause problems for Korean-American
children. This confirms that Korean children growing up in the United
States are not foreign language learners but maybe passive bilinguals
because they were able to discern even single phonemes although they are
not fluent. At the end of the chapter, the author points out how difficult
it is to give students minimal pairs or triples in real classroom
situations, which I find to be true in my own classroom experience. In the
appendices, she also provides tables made from her experiments and they are
very helpful. One concern is the difference between percentile and
statistical significance. Even though some results might look different
visually in tables, these differences are not always significant

The final chapter of the book (chapter 11) addresses the acquisition of the
Korean writing system, han'gul (Sunyoung Lee). The article is interesting
but it has some problems. First, at the bottom of p. 248, she reports that
the word 'school' in Korean is written as hak.yo or ha.kyo. The former
would be the case if a child were influenced by the incompletely acquired
Korean spelling rule, but the author's interpretation of the latter example
seems to be doubtful.  It might not be because they perceive the tense [k']
as a plain [k] as in her interpretation, but because they are aware of the
rule that the spelling of a word can be different from the way the word is
pronounced, or because they do not match a sound to a correct orthographic
consonant. Thus, to support her interpretation, it would have been better
for her to show the percentiles of cases of wrong spelling. The second
problem of this article is derived from statistics. The author reports
results different from those in the table she provides in the chapter. For
example, on p. 251, line 8, she says that no one spelled 'chalhuk'
correctly, which is the result reported in table 5 on p. 247. However, in
line 19 of the same page (p. 251), she also reports that the proportion of
right answers is 10% in the case of  'chalhuk,' which contradicts her
statement in line 8 and in table 5. Rather, it seems to be the percentile
of how many children got the right answer for double final consonants in
total, which is a broader issue. On p. 251, second to the last line, it is
reported that students at the advanced level scored 59% correct, but there
is no mention of how she got that percentile. If it is the total mean
number of right answers from her nine tables as illustrated in her chapter,
my calculation indicates a 64% total mean number of right answers. The
interpretation of this result is also problematic. She argues that 59%
correct does not show that students are aware of spellings, but to what
standard is she making the comparison? Except for resyllabification of
single words (table 4, 31%) and final consonant cluster simplification
(table 5, 11%), students at the advanced level showed much better ability
in spelling, almost double in the rest of the cases (simple words: 98%,
coda neutralization: 78%, resyllabification of multiple morpheme words:
81%, nasalization: 69%, and aspiration: 76%). Thus, the results can be
interpreted as being influenced by two outliers, which skew the total mean
percentile. In addition, the term 'consonant cluster' referring to a double
final consonant is not correct. A consonant cluster means a sequence of two
sounds but a double final consonant in Korean (pach'im) is not a phonetic
feature, but an orthographic feature. Even in table 4, students in the
advanced class showed much better performance compared to lower level
students, even though the absolute mean from the advanced class was low
(31% vs. 4%). The author interprets the indication of the results from
table 5 and 9 (vowels) as students still being in a transition period so
the percentiles do not show consistency since the students' level has not
yet stabilized. If that is the case, the low percentile from table 5 where
intermediate students got higher scores (14%) than advanced students (11%)
can be interpreted the same way. When statistical interpretation is given
in an article, more careful attention should be paid, and there should be a
clear and explicit statement of the results.

For anyone who is interested in Korean language education, however, this
book can be used as a reference or a source of background information on
Korean-English bilingual children's language acquisition: how to maintain
their heritage language of Korean while acquiring English. The issues
discussed in the book give insights for further research to support and
better understand Korean language education in countries other than Korea.

Kim, Myoyoung. 2001
Review of  _Hanin Hakkyo-Ui Han'gugO Kyoyuk YOn'gu_, edd. by Dong Jae Lee
et al.,(2000)
_Korean Studies Review_ 2001, no. 07
Electronic file: http://www.iic.edu/thelist/review/ksr01-07.htm

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