Saturday, April 14, 2007

Well, I guess I'm out of a job.

Now there's a 'magic' way to learn English, discovered by the "...Korea Times ombudsman-in-chief and also editor-in-chief of The Edu Times. Park, former managing editor of The Korea Times, now teaches English media and ENIE at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies and Kyung Hee University."

The way?

Reading newspapers.

Boy, he sure was lucky to have chosen a job in newspapers, then chance into finding this "Magic Solution to English Proficiency". Here are the highlights (click to enlarge, if needed).

Although I work in the field, my own grammar skills are not that strong (a big surprise to any that read this blog). Still, I have to wonder about the title in an "Eats, shoots and leaves" kind of way.
Magic Solution to English Proficiency

Does the title suggest that Magic is the solution? From the article, we know that reading newspapers is the solution; would that be a 'magical' rather than 'magic' solution?
I do understand that reading news in the target language but based on local events would have the advantages of being challenging but familiar and more interesting than events in the target language from my hometown (for example). Indeed, I use article from the Times in some of my classes.
I guess I object to two things. Firstly, the word magic. This makes the article appear to describe something new and wonderful. Using newspaper articles in class is a good idea, but its not a new one. I suspect most teachers do it and many students already read them at home. The word also makes English proficiency appear to suddenly be easy; that is probably the definition of a "magic(al) solution". There are ways language learning can be easier, but it is not easy.
Secondly, the Korea Times, and its competitor, the Korea Herald, are not really places to find literary English. The second point in the photo above states in part that, "Newspapers are interesting, concisely written, readable ... fine collection(s) of essays as well."
I read the Times because I think it is of better quality than the Herald but that makes it only a larger guppy in a small pool. I have enjoyed a few series in these two papers, but as a whole, I am not sure if the quote above is an accurate description. Take your pick of either paper; if I had fifty won for every obvious grammatical or spelling error, well, I could buy a coffee - but it would be a Starbucks specialty coffee!

1 comment:

Daniel Costello said...

Dear Brian,

There was quite a craze for the TOEIC/TOEFL inserts about a decade ago. It dropped off.

I had a student arrive with a newspaper on Monday with questions so I was pleased with that.

So... by the time they realise there is no magic to it hopefully they will be able to read it?