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New Jersey School May Teach in Korean

Posted June. 08, 2006 03:01,   


Nearby New York, New Jersey is planning to introduce bilingual education in a model elementary school within its jurisdiction which will carry out regular classes in English and Korean.

Fort Lee Elementary School 3 was chosen as the model school in this scheme. This school is located in Fort Lee City overlooking Manhattan, New York, with the Hudson River in between. Up to 30 percent of the students of this school are Koreans.

The New Jersey Education Ministry aims to carry out bilingual education starting with the incoming kindergarteners this September. If the exemplary 1-year course is successful, all classes will be held in both English and Korean until the students finish the sixth grade. This marks the first case in which the Korean language will be adopted in bilingual education in New Jersey.

The details are not drawn yet, but the goal is to make students fluent both in English and Korean through seven years of bilingual education from kindergarten to the end of the sixth grade. The New Jersey Education Ministry explained, “Students will gain more competitiveness by learning early on another language apart from English if they learn in two languages.”

But some doubts are cast to whether the program will succeed or not as opposition from parents is already quite burdening.

At a parent-teacher meeting held on June 6, most of parents opposed to the idea. Parents opposed saying, “The ongoing English education is likely to be weakened if the classes are held in two languages. If the program goes wrong and is halted midway, then the harm will be on the students.”

Many parents of Korean origins disagreed to the idea, too. Some Korean-origin parents were for the plan saying there would be many good points in a bilingual education, but the number was small. Other Korean-origin parents handed out papers to other parents in opposition to bilingual education program during the meeting.

The New Jersey Education Ministry explained, “Many Research shows that bilingual education does not harm study achievements. In the future, speaking English will not bring competitiveness.” But many parents seemed to feel insecure about such an experiment.

Jong sik Kong kong@donga.com