Researching awareness and attitudes : a study of world Englishes and English teachers in South Korea

2017-03-01T05:08:33Z (GMT) by Ahn, Hyejeong
This study explores the awareness and attitudes of English teachers in South Korea (ETSK) toward eight selected varieties of English: American English (AmE), British English (BrE), Canadian English (CaE), Singaporean English (SiE), Indian English (InE), Chinese English (ChE), Japanese English (JaE) and Korean English (KoE). Data, consisting of 204 questionnaires and 63 interviews, is collected from both Korean and non-Korean English teachers, from two major regions, Busan Gyeongnam and Seoul Gyonggi in South Korea. The results are analysed using a number of quantitative data analysis methods (e.g., One way ANOVA, Post hoc test, and Crosstab multiple comparison) as well as applying qualitative data analysis. Little statistical differences in both awareness and attitude were found between three categorical groups (i.e., gender, Korean and non-Korean English teachers, area of residence). The findings are presented thematically from the perspective of the paradigm of English as an International Language (EIL), using a theoretical framework incorporating cognitive, affective and behavioural components of attitude (Baker, 1992; Garrett, 2010). The findings indicate that ETSK lack awareness of different varieties of English, as indicated by the frequent statement made by ETSK: ‘I don’t know about these Englishes’. Aspects of phonology appear to be a salient dimension in determining participants’ self-assessment of awareness of different varieties of English. There is a marked preference for Inner Circle varieties of English in attitude. In particular, AmE firmly remains the most sought after English variety in South Korea, being described as ‘the most powerful, practical and the Base of English’. The ideologically laden notion of AmE superiority is deeply rooted in the minds of a large number of ETSK’s, while Expanding Circle English varieties are disfavoured, with JaE in particular, rated as the least favourable. KoE was found to be more favoured than all other selected Outer and Expanding Circle varieties of English, and was considered to be a ‘friendly’ and ‘pleasant’ English, thereby displaying participants’ positive attitude to KoE in the affective component of attitudes. However, because of the internal conflicts found in the behavioural component of participants’ attitudes, they were unwilling to speak in KoE. The presented study confirms the absolute favouritism shown by the Korean Ministry of Education (KME) and ETSK towards Inner Circle varieties of English and towards AmE in particular, as ideal teaching models. The findings indicate that teachers’ lack of awareness may have a negative impact on the way they react to other varieties of English and their lack of awareness would be considered as a kind of ‘handicap’, under which teachers operate with varying degrees of success in international communication. There is a very complex interrelationship within the various factors which influence attitudes towards these issues. The special position of AmE has been allowed to develop uncritically and the stigmatisation of ‘other’ Englishes has deeply penetrated the mindset of ETSK. The findings also suggest that a greater awareness and understanding of language variation and its processes would play a significant role in the development of positive attitudes towards English varieties and to the acceptance of a pluralistic model of the English language. This thesis argues that disclosing and questioning the hidden discursive practices embedded in the English education policy in South Korea may be the first step in changing negative attitudes and in embracing diversified Englishes. The findings are also discussed in relation to the implications that researching awareness and attitude has for pedagogical considerations and for teacher training.