Social Acquisition of English in South Korea and its Implications for English Education
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This dissertation examines the social acquisition of English in the South Korean speech community by examining the use of English in South Korean talk shows. Specifically, drawing upon Brutt-Griffler’s (2002) macroacquisition theory as the theoretical framework, this dissertation provides empirical evidence of how the South Korean speech community acquires the English language by looking at the three primary agents of the spread of English: the media, policy makers, and English teachers. For this purpose, this dissertation first explores how Korean speakers use English in their conversations during social interactions in Korean television talk shows. Second, the attitudes of university professors and English teachers toward the spread of English and English language teaching were investigated. Finally, by exploring in-depth voices from university professors and English teachers, this dissertation ascertains the implications of macroacquisition of English for English language policy in South Korea. This study adopted a mixed methods research design in three stages (Dörnyei, Z., 2007). The first stage involved gathering conversation data excerpted from thirty episodes of three Korean television talk shows. Unlike previous studies that used discourse analysis to explore contextual clues for the use of English and Korean language mixing (Moody, 2009; Lee, 2004, 2014; Pennycook, 2003, 2007), this study used conversation analysis and membership categorization analysis to investigate the use of English for social interactions in talk shows. The second stage included gathering survey data from 78 university professors (policy makers) and 97 English teachers (policy practitioners). To compare these two groups in terms of their attitudes toward the spread of English and English language teaching, a one-way repeated measures ANOVA and an independent samples t-test were used for data analysis. The third stage included interviews with four university professors and four English teachers to explore their in-depth thoughts about English borrowings and their application to English education in South Korea. The results show that the media, policy makers, and English teachers are not passive recipients, but are active agents of the spread of English into the Korean speech community by engaging in reshaping “shared subjective knowledge” (Brutt-Griffler, 2002, p. 142) and having an influence on the making of English language policy in South Korea. The talk show data indicated that effective communication and identity construction are the main purposes of using English in a Korean conversation for social interaction. The survey and interview results revealed that professors and teachers agree that a list of English borrowings can be incorporated into a lesson plan, but the application of English borrowings to the English curriculum needs further discussion in the South Korean English teaching context. The findings of this dissertation provide an insight into the global spread of English based on its social acquisition in the South Korean context. This knowledge contributes to our understanding of the development of a World English in a local speech community.
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