SEOUL, Jan. 8 (Korea Bizwire) — Experts have warned parents over the hype surrounding online foreign language courses for children, as excessive exposure could hinder children from learning their mother tongue.
With online streaming services like YouTube and Netflix only one click away, parents are now seldom short of foreign language content, which is often shown to children at a very young age for educational purposes.
However, experts say the hyped up educational method in South Korea comes with a price, such as a hindrance to learning Korean, or a heavy reliance on videos for educational content.
Won Mi-jin, a professor of Korean language at Yonsei University, says the effect of foreign language education through videos is much debated in academia.
“Children can benefit (from watching videos in foreign languages) in terms of pronunciation and expanding vocabulary, but that’s not exactly language acquisition,” Won said.
Won warns that parents need to observe whether their children become stressed out when having to speak two different languages, and whether their ability to learn Korean language is affected while studying another language.
“Infants and preschool children need to develop other abilities apart from learning foreign languages. It’s not a must to teach children a foreign language, and if you decided to do so as parents, listening exposure is appropriate, while staying away from writing or speaking,” Won argued.
In 2015, the Korea Institute of Child Care & Education conducted a study on foreign language acquisition at an early age, during which children younger than five years old studying Chinese were compared to older students.
Findings showed that while children enjoyed the experiment, the scientific effect of early foreign language education wasn’t recorded, with children essentially repeating like a parrot, according to Lee Jung-rim, a researcher who took part in the experiment.
Despite the warnings, the trend towards video content in foreign language education in South Korean appears set to continue for the time being.
“In Malaysia and other Southeast Asian countries, the culture of parents watching cartoons on Netflix with children to learn foreign languages is well established. The use of video platforms for educational purposes in South Korea is likely to continue,” an IT industry official said.
Last year, a girl received nationwide media coverage after learning five languages by watching online videos, while Rap Monster, the leader of boy band BTS, also surprised fans after revealing that he had learned English by watching TV shows.
Ashley Song (firstname.lastname@example.org)