South Korean Government Is Banning English Language Classes In Kindergarten

Rachel Kang, Dec. 28, 2017, 10:18 a.m.

The Education Ministry announced Wednesday that it will ban English-language education in kindergartens and daycare centers for fear of overburdening young children with study pressure. Most of Korea's 9,026 public and private kindergartens and 41,084 daycare centers nationwide hold English classes after hours.

The ministry said it must crack down on "reckless learning-oriented early childhood education," but some parents are protesting that a blanket ban is excessive.

It is already illegal to teach English in kindergartens or daycare centers in their regular classes which usually end around 1 p.m., for fear of hampering Korean-language acquisition.

But there is no rule on what can be taught outside regular hours, which results in small children spending long hours studying when they should be playing.

The ban came after the ministry announced last month that it will prohibit after-school English classes for first- and second-graders in elementary school from March next year.

Some parents have protested and started a petition to Cheong Wa Dae. They point out that early learning is the best time for children to acquire an easy familiarity with a second language, and warn that the ban will only boost demand for private crammers, which will drive up the cost burden for parents.

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