Monday, July 27, 2009

Of Textbooks and Computer Games

Oh, and by the way this brings me to a post about the ridiculous system of English education in Korea. Again, I don't think I'll ever be able to get over how English is taught before Sino-Korean Characters(한자, 漢字)!. You see, I don’t understand why there aren’t specific books made for the Korean market. (maybe there were or are now, but I haven’t come across them…).

I remember one thing that I hated and I guess this is a double edged sword in that I hated how large the Korean computer gaming market was. You see when I lived in Korea I loved playing computer games (now, I just like to buy the game and see how good the graphics look on my computer, show it off to a couple people who could care less, and then end up selling it in a couple months) … But, I swear just as certain Korean grandparents can play Go (바둑) at that age; I’m going to playing Civilization X or at least show off to my grandchildren how nice the graphics are...

Well, anyways, the problem with the Korean computer gaming market being so big (and I believe the online gaming market was the largest in the world before World of Warcraft and broadband Internet – by the way, should this word still be capitalized really took off in the rest of the world?

Anyways, the Korean computer gaming market being “big” is all nice if you’re a Korean-Korean or a native Korean since this means companies such as Electronic Arts will invest the time and money to localize the game (as in at the very least translate the game into Korean). But, for people like me, well, …

You see, I always loved the game Civilization. When I was in Korea, Civilization 3 came out and that’s when I learned what the word 문명 (*civilization*) meant. It was nice; all the menus were in Korean and all, and while I could understand what “Install” was or “Options” was in Korean, when it came to actually playing the game and moving these "historical units," I was quite frustrated … (Of course, for Korea it was a boon, I mean this was the beginning of Korean cultural or media exports that were no longer about building gigantic ships that no other country asides from either a China or Japan has desire to build, but finally songs, computer games, television dramas, movies, etc…)

But anyways, for me, it wasn’t that great. At least, for playing “문명” (Civilization, if you don’t have a Korean font installed). But, you see, as an English teacher there I saw a parallel. The funny thing is that you would think that Korea would have the largest market for books teaching Koreans English from a Korean perspective. But, I cannot tell you how many times I came across expensive, no, very expensive textbooks published by large American or British companies that were published to teach the domestic market (Americans or the British) English. In America, the last time I studied grammar – and I’m not sure if this is true for rest of America, but the last time I studied grammar was I believe in fifth or sixth grade.

I remember the teacher correcting us if we wrote I would of rather than I would’ve

You see, that’s a problem that native English speakers of Americans have when learning how to write in English and not one that Koreans would have.

If these game companies can localize games for the large domestic market in Korea, then these gigantic publishing houses should do the same for these ESL books (Of course, they might exist already, but textbooks not localized for the domestic Korean market should not be allowed into the market as they do a great disservice to those trying to learn and teach English).
Please excuse my generalizations, but please do understand that I’m speaking about a wide and I mean a wide range of topics in this blog).

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