English-Only Zones Booming at Universities

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English-Only Zones Booming at Universities

Dec 13, 2005

A Korean college student wakes up in the morning, beginning his day by speaking English to say hello to his roommates in a student resident hall on a local campus.

He watches English-speaking world news and reads English language newspapers as part of his daily routine at the school dormitory.

Speaking only English at the campus is no longer strange for Korean university students as more and more universities are turning their campuses into English only speaking zones to expose their students to English-friendly speaking environments.

If anyone violates the rule for speaking only English in a certain zone, he or she will receive penalties and lose points.

Sogang University will operate its dormitory as an English-speaking zone over the two floors starting next semester.

About 90 students will be selected to reside in the dormitory based on English tests by the end of next January.

The university students are supposed to speak only English while residing in the English-only zone at the dormitory.

If anyone receives minus points for speaking Korean in the zone or fails the English test in a final exam, he or she is supposed to get out of the dormitory.

"We are constructing a new building to accommodate about 700-1,000 students as a kind of English immersion building in an effort to help students improve English speaking before graduation," a school official said.

"The number of English zones are increasing as universities are struggling to attract students and English is becoming indispensable in a job application," the official added.

Hankuk University of Foreign Studies is considering obliging all of freshmen to live in an English-speaking dormitory for at least one year.

Soongsil University is also planning to construct an English-speaking residence hall, which will accommodate about 1,600 students.

Myongji University has already launched English-zone over the two floors at its dormitory in Yongin campus since 2003, in which students are supposed to practice English and take English conversation lectures there for two hours a day from a native English speaker.

"The English zone has the greatest merit for me to improve my English ability spontaneously while living in an English-friendly environment and have a confidence when I speak to foreigners," a 25-year-old, identified as Choi, said.


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