When I went to Japan, I met some Finnish guys who could speak English fluently with no accent (that is to say that they had a North American accent). They explained to me that in Finland, they watch American films and television with subtitles, not dubbed. This way, they are constantly exposed to native English. In Korea, shows are dubbed while movies have subtitles. The Finnish guy said that he though this was the best way to learn a language. Constant passive exposure (with active learning, of course).
This article about a Japanese girl learning English in Finland I found in an English Korean newspaper made me think of the anecdote.
Here’s my favorite part of the article. In my opinion, it highlights the problem with English education in Korea.
English classes are taught in English in Finland, and students are not tested by multiple-choice or fill-in-the-blanks questions but by writing English essays. Nor are they ranked from the top to the bottom of the class, but are given scores out of 10, and those who get four or less are failed. It is not, therefore, a competition against peers but against yourself. “Finnish students are not ashamed of failure and having to repeat a year. Rather, they’d be embarrassed of moving on to the next level without having the capacity,” said Jitsukawa.
Finns do not believe that everyone should go to university, and it is rare to see students enter university fresh out of high school. Most travel overseas or engage in volunteer activities or other things first and then go to university only if they really want to study further.
Reading Korean news is something I should do more often. I typically only read the sensational news that denounces native teachers as drug-addicts or criminals. Actually, reading the news puts me in a bad mood. It really shows the flaws of the Korean system. I like to live in my own cultural bubble with my friends and coworkers where everyone is nice and there is no corruption.