THE IMPLEMENTATION OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE POLICY IN EARLY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CLASSROOMS IN SOUTH KOREA FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF MACROACQUISITION OF ENGLISH AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE: AN ETHNOGRAPHIC CASE STUDY
Yoon, Ji Young
MetadataShow full item record
In 2001, the Korean government launched a new English language education policy called “the 7th national curriculum,” in an attempt to meet the growing public demand for improved communication skills in English. With this policy in mind, the aim of this dissertation is to examine the ways in which the mandatory English language curriculum is implemented and practiced in early elementary school contexts in Korea. The study pays special attention to the third grade, because this is when English language education begins as a compulsory subject under the national education policy. The study adopts an ethnographic case study in one public and one private elementary school in Korea to delve into the interplay between top-down and bottom-up approaches of language policy implementation and its effects in classroom practices through the lens of the macroacquisition model of World English (Brutt-Griffler, 2002). Drawing on a qualitative research approach, the study consists of three phases starting with policy document analysis. Then a total of 90 hours of classroom observations in 136 visits were conducted by visiting each school to examine the lived realities of policy implementation in classroom settings. Subsequently, interviews were conducted with a total of five teachers, six students, and six parents from the two schools to investigate the multilayered mechanism of the policy implementation. In addition, 31 third grade students from the public and 34 third grade students from the private elementary school participated in the survey with open-ended questions to supplement the field study.The findings of the study reveal the coexistence of contradictory policies that promote and restrict the spread of English in order to maintain the uniform public provision of schooling proposed by the government. With regards to policy implementation, there was a discrepancy between the ideal of communicative competence-oriented policy and the reality of classroom practices. At both the public and the private elementary schools, these practices were in partial agreement with the policy, with teachers from respective schools displaying differences in how they implemented policy into practice under diverse teaching contexts and with different obstacles. More importantly, the school principal, who plays the role of a middle-executive between policymakers and teachers, had a prominent role as a major policy implementer who managed and conducted teaching activities, and led efforts to carry out policy delivery at the school level. While parents and teachers agreed that parents take the roles of motivator and considered in charge of children’s education, students were often found to be self-determined learners of English regardless of their parents’ influences. This study suggests that the policy implementation is dynamic such that different members in the speech community are involved in making, evaluating, and (re)shaping content to fit in different education contexts. Furthermore, findings will complement Brutt-Griffler’s (2002) notion of macroacquisition that connects the reality of English use with its speakers in a linguistic space where the second language acquisition by the speech community is realized as a form of social process. It also provides a nuanced image of how this case of Korean macroacquisition behavior serves as a local example of the global spread of English.