Korean mothers' beliefs and practices on early English education in ESL and EFL contexts

Open Access
Song, Seung-Min
Graduate Program:
Curriculum and Instruction
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
June 10, 2003
Committee Members:
  • James Ewald Johnson, Committee Chair
  • Susan Mary Land, Committee Member
  • Jamie Myers, Committee Member
  • Edgar Paul Yoder, Committee Member
ABSTRACT This study examines the relationship between the beliefs and practices of mothers and children¡¯s learning experiences. By examining maternal beliefs and practices in different sociocultural contexts, the researcher identifies how the contexts of families and children¡¯s learning experiences are related. Specifically, the purpose of the study is to describe and discuss Korean mothers¡¯ beliefs and reported practices in early English education in ESL and EFL contexts. To examine Korean parents¡¯ enthusiastic attitudes toward early English education, the researcher describes their subjective beliefs and self-reported practices. The present study is designed to employ both qualitative methodology and Q-sort methodology. To collect data, the researcher met 30 Korean mothers individually, some in Korea and some in the United States. Among them, eight mothers in Korea and eight mothers in the United States were randomly selected and interviewed. The purpose of the interviews was to elaborate on the mothers¡¯ beliefs and practices through narratives that would complement the data from the Q-sorts. Using Q-sort methodology, the researcher examined mothers¡¯ subjective beliefs concerning early English education and conducted semi-structured interviews using a standardized, open-ended strategy to describe and compare mothers¡¯ beliefs in different sociocultural contexts. The results of this study were the following: (1) Similarities and differences exist in mothers¡¯ beliefs concerning early English education in different contexts. Mothers in both contexts showed positive beliefs concerning early English education, even though their satisfaction was higher in the EFL context. Mothers in Korea clearly showed more enthusiastic belief in direct mother-child interaction in early English education than mothers did in the United States; (2) Mothers in Korea and mothers in the United States reported different patterns of practices related to early English education at home. Mothers in Korea were more likely to hire a tutor, provide printed materials regularly, use websites to find materials, tell stories in English, and listen to audio tapes. On the other hand, mothers in the United States were more likely to read books in English, show foreign films, sing songs in English, and teach the alphabets at home. These differences in maternal practices are the result of the different contexts that they are in; (3) The beliefs of mothers in Korea can be clustered into five groups, and the beliefs of mothers in the United States can be clustered into four groups through factor analysis; (4) Mothers¡¯ demographic characteristics, such as their English proficiency and number of children, are associated with some maternal practices related to early English education, such as teaching the alphabet. In sum, mothers¡¯ sociocultural contexts influence some of their beliefs, but not all, and their practices at home, even if they share have educational and social backgrounds. Despite their differences regarding some beliefs and reported practices, Korean mothers in ESL and EFL contexts have strong beliefs concerning early English education and they clearly value English learning through enjoyment for their young children.