English Fluency as Wind beneath My Childrenâ€™s Wings: The Imagined and Practiced Value of English Language in Globalizing Korea
Keywords:English fluency, Korea, class, cultural capital
In this paper, I argue that English is an important component of â€œcultural capitalâ€ in contemporary Korean society. Whether for practical reasons or not, English proficiency is something an educated Korean must have. Given the perceived importance of English language in Korea, childrenâ€™s early exposure to English language has become important component of mothersâ€™ â€œfamily status productionâ€ work. [Papanek 1979] This is especially true for middle, and upper middle class families who either need to constantly affirm their class background, or have desire to climb up the social hierarchy. In this paper, I examine the significance of English proficiency in its relationship with the notions of gender, family, and class in the society. As Koreans society becoming one of the major players in the global society, English language proficiency has also become an important component of Koreansâ€™ global identities.
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