Korea changes English speaking standards for future employees

originally published here: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/biz/2007/12/123_16197.html on 12-26-2007 17:08

Spoken English Becomes Important for Jobseekers

By Ryu Jin
Staff Reporter

“No more TOEIC scores! Show your skills with your tongue!’’

It will be of little use to gain high scores in such noted English proficiency tests as TOEIC, TOEFL and TEPS for jobseekers seeking a position at the country’s large business groups from next year, unless they have a good command of spoken English.

According to a survey by Job Korea , an online job information provider, Wednesday, three in every 10 companies said that they would change their evaluation methods for English in the course of recruitment.

Job Korea surveyed a total of 193 firms out of the country’s top 300 enterprises, which take the English ability of the applicants into account in the course of recruitment, on Dec. 10-21.

About 26.9 percent of the respondents said that they would change their evaluation methods from 2008. About 40.4 percent of the firms, which plans the changes, said that they would strengthen both spoken English tests and face-to-face interviews.

Introduction of English speeches came next with 19.2 percent, followed by English interviews (13.5 percent) and others (9.6 percent) including listening comprehension and writing tests.

South Korea’s English curriculum at schools has often been criticized for being improper in the era of internationalization, as it has been largely focused on written language skills such as grammar, reading comprehension and vocabulary.

Critics point out the reality, in which university graduates with high scores in TOEIC or other tests can hardly communicate with native English speakers, though the school curriculum has been changing to put more emphasis on spoken English in recent years

Samsung Group, the country’s top conglomerate, now considers adopting the OPIc, a test for practical English largely focused on speaking ability, instead of the current tests which mainly assess reading and listening capabilities.

“We have not yet decided on whether to adopt the new method,’’ a Samsung Group official said. “But it is true that we are considering some changes with every possibility open.’’

Doosan Group also plans to beef up its speaking test for those who apply for Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction and Doosan Infracore, which are largely engaged in overseas businesses.

Korea Development Corporation has already decided to adopt English interviews, while SK Shipping is also set to introduce a speaking test to recruit talented people with global competitiveness.

“What is the use of having high scores if they do not guarantee the basic skills for communication?’’ said an official from Daelim Industrial Company, which also adopted a face-to-face interview between applicants and native speakers.

jinryu@koreatimes.co.kr

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Filed under Education, ESL, Globalization, Jobs, Korea life, Linguistics

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