Incheon National University
Since the 1990’s, South Korean universities have been internationalizing to improve their standing in the world. To be more international, they began teaching subject matter courses in English and requiring students to take English conversation classes taught by native English-speaking teachers (NETs). Students perceive NETs differently than non-native English teachers (NNETS) , but how do students perceive the usefulness of their English conversation classes with NETs? In what ways do students find mandatory English conversation classes the most useful? What is the correlation between how much English students use in their majors and how useful they find the English Conversation courses they take with native English speakers? This study examines 89 Korean university students who were enrolled in advanced-level English conversation courses taught by native English instructors at a university in South Korea. On a survey, students self-reported how useful they found their English conversation classes and which ways and how much English they use in their major courses. The students found that English conversation class was the most useful for making foreign friends and traveling abroad, but the least useful for their major coursework. However, the amount of English used in their majors varied greatly. The more students used English in their major, the more useful they found their English conversation classes with NETs. The findings have implications for university instructors and administrators throughout Korea. Understanding what students find useful in English conversation courses would allow university instructors to provide better learning experiences for their students.
Bruce Screws is a distance learning doctoral student in the Instructional Systems and Learning Technology at Florida State University in the United States. He has worked as a visiting professor at Incheon National University for the past 4 years. His primary research interests are intercultural communication and how culture impacts how students interact with instructional technologies. He holds an MS degree in Education from Florida State University.