Revisiting Key Issues in Applying the Communicative Approach in Korea: Follow up after 26 Years of Implementation

Jihyeon Jeon, Judy Yin

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While CLT has continued to be one of the most widely applied approach in teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) worldwide, there has been numerous studies that have pointed out various obstacles in applying CLT in the East Asian context. Jeon (1997) identified key issues in implementing CLT in the Korean context and followed up on the same issues in Jeon (2009) to examine whether there had been any changes after 12 years of implementation. In particular, three research questions were considered: 1) What are the key issues in applying the communicative approach in Korea? 2) Is there an order of priority in the importance of these issues? and 3) Are there any changes in the importance of these issues after 12 years of implementation? The results showed that while some new issues had come up, the top key issues had remained the same. This was a surprising finding since there had not been any major changes in the top key issues 12 years after the first study and pointed out the persistent need to seek out obstacles over the years. As there had been a global upheaval in the educational context due to COVID-19, major changes in English education was expected. Accordingly, this study is another follow up study that focused on revisiting key issues regarding the implementation of CLT in the Korean EFL context. In order to identify the key issues, a three-round Delphi technique was used. A total of 36 teachers participated in identifying the key issues, ranking the issues and revisiting the ranked issues to see if there needs to be any adjustments. The results showed that, after 26 years of implementation, some of the key issues had been modified and have either increased or decreased their importance. While there were some issues that have newly emerged, the issues that had stayed in the top ranking have remained the same. This calls for an urgent need to address such issues as the curriculum continues to stress the importance of CLT in Korea. Without ameliorating the hindering factors, proper implementation of CLT will be challenging for English teachers in Korea.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)962-976
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Asia TEFL
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2022

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  • Delphi
  • communicative approach
  • communicative language teaching (CLT)
  • key issues


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