Go to contents

Baby Overseas Study Boom

Posted July. 18, 2002 22:18,   


More and more young mothers who are required to accompany their young children when sending the latter to study overseas are enrolling in foreign-language courses abroad. The reason why a growing number of young moms are acquiring language study visas overseas is because this is the only way to send youngsters to kindergartens abroad since kids under 6 years old are not eligible for student visas.

“We have been receiving more inquiries regarding the education of small kids abroad recently”, said Lim Jong-ha, Vice-president of a private institute specializing in overseas education of Koreans. He also added that each of the private institutes in Gangnam area sends 3 or 4 kindergarten kids to study overseas each month and early education of Korean children overseas accounts for 2 percent of all Korean children studying abroad.

According to Mr. Lim, the number one choice for parents to send their kids to study abroad is New Zealand because of low costs and comparatively easy visa procedures.

It usually costs 25-35 million won a year for parents to pay for their kids’ education, accommodations and foreign-language courses taken by moms. In New Zealand, it will cost about 115 million won to pay for living expenses and tutoring fees when only kids are sent abroad, including the monthly kindergarten fee of 400,000 won; in Canada, the annual cost will be about 20 million won.

People close to overseas study private institutions say that some young spouses resort to the early education of their kids as a means to solve conjugal problems.

“Learning English from an early childhood is a must these days because good English-language skills will give my child a competitive edge in the future”, said Kim, a 31-year-old mom of a four-year-old boy from Seocho-dong, Seoul, who came to a private institution in Ganganm specializing in overseas education in order to send her son to study abroad. She said that it is a predominant opinion among all of her acquaintances, also mothers of small children, that sending kids to study abroad in elementary school is too late so most of them are going to do it when their kids are of a kindergarten age.

Pedagogical experts, however, say that the obsession of parents over sending their kindergarten kids to study abroad is not the best thing to do.

“Although studying foreign languages at an early age may be effective, it may also throw into confusion small kids who cannot even speak their mother tongue properly yet”, said Yoo Mi-suk, a Professor of Child Welfare Department at Sukmyeong Women’s University, pointing out that what kids of 3 to 5 years old need most of all at this age is emotionally positive interaction with people around them, whereas living in a totally unfamiliar place with one parent can incur more emotional damage to a child.

Min-Hyuk Park mhpark@donga.com