Private English education is common in South Korea, where English is considered key to academic and career success. Yet, the learning environment of private tutoring institutions there is not authentic or favourable for preschool children, according to Kim Jeehee, a PhD student at The Education University of Hong Kong (EdUHK).
With the aim of improving English education for children, Kim decided to explore how to enhance English learning policy and ensure English education for preschool children is more guided in South Korea in her PhD studies since September 2019.
Her research focuses on improving South Korea’s current policy for private tutoring institutions with a view to better monitoring these preschool institutions in areas of curricula, teacher training and teacher qualifications.
“My ultimate goal is to develop an English curriculum that is suitable for children’s developmental stages and their whole-person development,” said Kim. “I hope to set up an institute with a tailored curriculum for South Korea as a research project, which can serve as a platform for enhancing the curriculum and teacher training systems for early English private education in my home country.”
After obtaining her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages in South Korea, Kim applied for the University Grants Committee-funded PhD Fellowship Scheme to continue her research in English education policy for preschool children until August 2023. She chose EdUHK because of its leadership in education.
“Since the educational context in Hong Kong is very similar to that of South Korea, in which English is not the first language and private English tutoring institutions are popular, I am sure I can gain invaluable insights into English education, early childhood education and private education,” she said.
Through studying in Hong Kong and meeting fellow researchers from various regions, she hopes to expand her research area into English education policy in other countries, such as Japan, mainland China and Taiwan, with similar aspirations for early English education and private education.