A fad for private Chinese-language education in Korea is spreading even to kindergartens as China continues to enjoy explosive economic growth.
"A decade ago, many parents were skeptical about Chinese-language training for kids," the director of a kindergarten said. "But for the last two or three years a growing number of mothers have been visiting us because they feel that it's good to let their kids start to learn accurate pronunciation and intonation when young because Chinese will be a required foreign language in the future."
Some parents send their children to kindergartens designed for Chinese-Korean children or those who have returned from China. A staffer of a Chinese-only kindergarten in Busan said, "This is a kindergarten for Chinese-Korean kids, but we now have many Korean kids."
Oh Jung-hwa, a professor of English at Ewha Womans University, said, "It's effective for children to learn a foreign language in an everyday environment when young. But children who can't speak Korean properly yet will be confused if they are forced to learn a foreign language, and as a result they may fail to learn either language properly or get so stressed that they try to avoid learning foreign languages altogether."