Court Upholds Ban on English Immersion for Elementary Kids

      February 26, 2016 12:36

      The Constitutional Court on Thursday upheld the government's prohibition of intensive English education in the early years of elementary schools.

      In 2013, parents at Younghoon Elementary School in northern Seoul challenged the Education Ministry's decision to prohibit English classes in the first and second grades of private elementary schools, saying it infringes on their right to an education.

      But the Constitutional Court ruled that teaching intensive English lessons to elementary school students could cause problems learning their native language.

      The ministry looked into how English is taught in private schools across the nation and what types of textbooks are used, and found that most were using foreign textbooks, while around one-third were teaching English intensively.

      In September of 2013, the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education sent out notices to all private elementary schools telling them not to offer intensive English classes to first and second graders and to limit such classes to less than two to three hours for third to sixth graders.

      But 1,276 parents of the prestigious private school protested and filed a lawsuit.

      "In the Korean public education system, first and second graders start to learn Korean," the court said. "Experts say that teaching both languages at the same time could hinder development of children's Korean proficiency while making learning English difficult as well."

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