education, life in korea

Language Confusion Arising from the Korean Englishee


My Little Dynamo is taking a Kumon English class with a Korean Kumon instructor.

Most Korean moms would be surprised upon knowing about this as they know I could teach my son English better than the Korean English instructor. And he speaks English – he speaks very little Filipino – as his primary language.

But I know where my limitations end. I don’t have a system to teach him especially now that he is embracing the skill of “reading”. I also do not have the discipline to search the internet for worksheets for his daily practice. This I leave to the experts. And I found the Kumon method to work very well for my son… and me.

The Kumon Learning Method involves parents – more than it involves intructors, if I may say so. It takes a certain degree of dedication and discipline to go about it every day. A Kumon student meets with the Kumon instructor once a week (in Seoul) or twice a week (in the Philippines). The rest of the week, a Kumon student does the work sheet on his own (for those who are already self-learners) or with the guidance of a parent (or any adult for those who are just starting). That’s just the very reason why Kumon is not for everyone.

I started my son with Kumon in Iloilo during our vacation last year. He and I struggled with the daily schedule at first. He would rather spend his 40-50 minutes of Kumon playing than studying with me:-). But once we successfully battled the routine, he was actually reminding me in his own ways of his Kumon time. Hubby and I found it was doing him good and he greatly improved and developed the daily habit of Kumon. We decided to continue with his Kumon here in Seoul.

I have to admit though that my son got to a point of getting confused with his phonics. Koreans have a way of saying F, M, Z (did I miss other letters?). Even the phonics of the letter A could be confusing to a learning ear. The Korean English teacher had to insist it’s the “Korean way” each time my son runs to me to question how his teacher does the phonics of some letters which differs from how I teach him. I had to gently assert that I wouldn’t want my son to be confused so kindly respect how English-speaking people say the phonics of these English letters. We are learning English, after all. The English teacher and I have, I could fairly surmise, come to mutually respect each other when it comes to my son’s development.

My Little Dynamo still gets to question some differences – I take it positively for it means he is thinking – and his 4-year old mind has concluded that Koreans speak some of the English words one way and English-speaking people speak these same English words another way. Hubby and I are carefully allowing him to say some of these words the Korean way when he speaks in Korean and when he is with his Korean friends and pronounce them in “proper” English when he speaks in English (classic example: use of Shuperman when speaking in Korean; Superman when speaking in English).

The language difference will be a daily occurrence for him but with constant monitoring, this will even be a positive influence in his growing up years. Respecting another culture’s language is part of respecting another culture.  It broadens once perspective in more ways than one can quantify.

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2 thoughts on “Language Confusion Arising from the Korean Englishee

  1. Hats off to you Wendy!

    You would’ve made a great judge…

    Seriously… I admire how you react to issues and things that happen around you. You aren’t emotional nor are you defensive. Instead, you weigh things before you even open your mouth. Lucky Manny and sons!

  2. i am all praises to kumon style.

    my 2 nephews, 13 & 11, attended kumon when they were 6. they continued until they were 9. what i’ve observed then was the amazing discipline they adapted. students become independent and critical thinkers. kumon’s accuracy & speed method helped my nephews advanced 2 levels higher than their counterparts.

    i’d also give credit to their bright teachers.

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