English Education Policies in South Korea: Planned and Enacted

  • Jeehyae Chung
  • Taehee ChoiEmail author
Part of the Language Policy book series (LAPO, volume 11)


In South Korea, the government has actively promoted English proficiency as an indispensable tool in ascertaining competitiveness of individuals and the country. This chapter examines English education in South Korea and its policies as contextualized in its socio-cultural backgrounds. The discussion draws on theoretical insights that view policies as an interactive process among policy documents, the context and the actors in it (Ball, Maguire, & Braun, 2012; Menken & García, 2010). First, the background is laid out by illustrating the symbolic and practical meaning of the English language in the Korean context. Following that, the chapter traces the changes in English language teaching (ELT) policies through a historical survey of curricular reforms and also presents the current agenda of ELT policies, within which the communicative approach is strongly recommended, as reflected in the seventh National Educational Curriculum. In an attempt to investigate ELT practice in context, two case studies, one at the primary level and the other at the secondary level, are presented, particularly to determine the relationship between policy and practice. Both case studies demonstrate that while teachers make efforts to follow the policies, how they actually implement them depends on their unique contexts and individual beliefs. The chapter concludes with suggestions for future research and policy making.


South Korea English education policy English language teaching Medium of instruction Teachers as actors Actor agency Language planning and language policy Policy enactment 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hankuk University of Foreign StudiesSeoulSouth Korea
  2. 2.Hong Kong Institute of EducationTai PoHong Kong

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