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English Immersion Villages to Undergo Major Revamp

Posted October. 16, 2009 08:22,   


Gyeonggi Province plans to change English immersion villages, which are suffering from chronic losses due to a fall in the number of visitors, to facilities for multicultural education and experience.

A Gyeonggi government official said yesterday, “To come up with measures to revitalize loss-making English immersion villages, we’ve asked Hankuk University of Foreign Studies to conduct a study.”

Given the province’s large expat population, Gyeonggi is considered a “global village” in which visitors can experience and enjoy diverse cultures. After reviewing the research by the end of this year, the provincial government will announce a new management plan.

Korea’s first such village was established in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province, in August 2004. The provincial government was the first in the country to spend its own budget to establish facilities exclusively for English education and provide English education programs.

Before the Ansan village was established, English education programs had been provided by universities or private institutes. Since the northern Seoul suburb of Paju set up its own English immersion village, whose streets and buildings look like those of a Western city, in April 2006, other villages have mushroomed across the nation.

Fourteen villages are located in the Seoul metropolitan area, including 10 in Gyeonggi Province. Around 30 villages have appeared nationwide.

Since many such villages have mushroomed across the nation, many of them have recorded losses due to a fall in students. Paju’s village, which fueled the popularity of English villages in Korea, drew 21,956 students in 2006 and 33,209 students in 2007 but the number fell to 27,841 students last year.

In the first eight months of the year, only 13,949 students went to the Paju village. The fall in students has caused the Paju village losses of four billion won (3.46 million U.S. dollars) in losses each year.

The number of visitors to the Ansan village also decreased from 14,682 in 2006 to 12,686 in 2007, 9,111 last year, and 7,738 this year through September.

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