English continues to expand in South Korea, which is now home to “the world’s biggest English immersion camp,” according to an article from Agence France-Presse.
Speaking Korean is banned in this English-only village that has sprung up somewhat incongruously from the paddy fields of this rice-growing region north of Seoul as part of a linguistic experiment pioneered in South Korea.
“The rule is to speak English,” said Chicago-born Glensne to his shy and giggling pupils as they shuffled between their kitchen tables and his desk to ask in English for cooking materials to make Mexican nachos….
The Paju English village is more than a language theme park. It is a real village of bricks and mortar modeled on an English village where hundreds of people live, eat, sleep, shop and learn.
It sits on a 277,000 m2 plot of land, the world’s biggest English immersion camp, boasting its own brewery pub, bookstore, bakery, restaurant, bank and theater along a main street that leads to a big domed-city hall.
Electric trams run through the main boulevard, which branches off to classrooms and houses to accommodate 100 teachers and 70 staff from various English-speaking countries and 550 students. Korean is outlawed and even written signs are banned.
“We wanted to create an environment where students feel they left Korea behind,” said Jeffrey Jones, head of the Paju camp.
Jones, former head of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea, said Koreans really need a change to their English education which focuses too much on grammar, reading and vocabulary.
“They spend a lot of time learning English. They can read probably better than I can, but they have trouble speaking,” he said. “One of the things we do here is we break the wall of fear. They learn not to be afraid and they learn to speak.”
I found this part especially interesting:
English proficiency has become increasingly important for Korean job seekers. Interviews conducted in English are common at big-name companies like Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor and LG Philips.
source: English only in South Korea’s teaching towns, AFP, April 5, 2006