The English Village 1% Solution

In Thursday’s Taipei Times, Dr. Stephen Krashen provides an interesting demonstration of the efficacy of the English Village.

Citing the August 1 edition of the Taipei Times, he states, “The village can accommodate 200 students at a time.” He then goes on to calculate,

If three villages are set up, they can accommodate about 600 students a week. That amounts to about 25,000 a year. In other words, fewer than 1 percent of the children in school in Taiwan will experience the English village, and the experience only lasts one week.

At this point, it is worth recalling comments from Johan of Talking Taiwanese concerning the cost of operating an English Village. Quoting the official website of the  U.S. Department of Education, he states,

Park Chung-a reports that an increasing number of local governments in Korea are withdrawing or overhauling their plans to build English-language villages since their profitability is being questioned. In the recent local elections, the boom in learning English had led a large number of local government leaders to make campaign pledges to establish such villages equipped with English immersion schools and academies. But despite strong demands by residents, many local governments have decided to either give up or downsize their villages due to growing doubts over profitability. Now, more than 50 local governments across the nation, which had planned to establish such villages, are likely to re-examine their plans…Recently, there have been erected English towns or villages, but the original model was ours. However, according to a recent report, there will be no more English villages in Korea because Gyeonggi Province went thirty billion won into the red last year. Kim Munsoo, governor of the province, is seriously considering how to keep the village running. Kim Jinpyo, the former Minister of Education asked for no more English villages in Korea. But the best substitute for an English village is an English learning center such as the Jeju Center. In the 2007 English education policy from the Ministry of Education, it was recommended to establish English learning centers in every province.

Also from Johan, I recommend having a look at this article from last year’s Voice of America on-line concerning English Villages in Korea. The article contains all sorts of interesting information about the history and purpose of these projects, including

Jeffrey Jones, an American business executive who has long worked in South Korea, is the director of English Village. He says the project started with a phone call from Gyeonggi Governor Sohn Hak-kyu.” He said, I’ve promised the electorate during my campaign that I’d build an English village,” said Jone. “I said, ‘what’s that?’ He said, ‘I don’t know what it is, but I want to do it – can you help me?

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