Path to English in Korea: Policies, practices, and outcomes

Mark DRESSMAN, Ju Seong LEE, Mohamed Amine SABAOUI

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review


In this paper we outline some possible “untrodden” paths to English that may be of interest and use to teachers and students in Korea. These paths are suggested by a comparative study of English policies, teaching and learning practices, and outcomes in Korea and Morocco. The two nations have official policies linking the acquisition of English in schools to economic development and prosperity and share a common history of colonization and linguistic imperialism in the first half of the Twentieth Century; yet attitudes and outcomes for the two nations in terms of students’ proficiency as speakers of English are very different. Whereas Korea is a largely monolingual society where English is typically learned as a second language, Morocco is a multilingual society where students become fluent in four or five languages before entering the university and language learning and discussions about language are something of a national pastime. Although Morocco ranks lower on the English Proficiency Index than Korea (45th vs. 24th), the Moroccan university students interviewed in an ongoing comparative study are verbally more proficient that Korean university students. Comparative analysis of interview data from the two groups of students shows that Moroccan students rely far more on the Internet and satellite television programs broadcast in English with Arabic subtitles in learning English than do Korean students, who indicate more reliance on formal schooling. In addition, although testing figures greatly in Moroccan academic life, Moroccan students tend to treat learning English more as a game than as a subject to be mastered. These findings suggest interesting possibilities for English language acquisition by Korean students and for the development of curricular and instructional approaches in Korean schools. Copyright © 2016 Pan Korea English Education Association.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-78
JournalEnglish Language Teaching
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


Dressman, M., Lee, J. S., & Sabaoui, M. A. (2016). Path to English in Korea: Policies, practices, and outcomes. English Language Teaching, 28(1), 67-78.


  • Policy
  • Practice
  • Moroccan students
  • Monolingual society
  • TBLT


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