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The ‘text generation’ (KOR)

Jan 31,2020
HAN AE-RAN
The author is a financial team head of the JoongAng Ilbo.

“The English textbook is 10 years old, but high school English teachers ask to make it easier since students have a hard time studying it,” said a man who works at a publisher of English reading materials.

Everyone paid attention to his remarks at the meeting. High school students today must be better in English than before. Then why the difficulty understanding an older textbook?

He came up with an unexpected answer: “It is not about English proficiency. The ability to read and understand long texts has diminished, whether it is English or Korean.”

A Korean language teacher didn’t seem surprised. “So many students don’t understand the text on Korean tests. Some get things wrong because they don’t understand the question, not the text. If the question asks to choose ‘something farthest,’ they don’t know what ‘farthest’ means.”

Another debater asked, “If kids have a hard time reading, why do YouTube videos have so many subtitles? It is painful to read subtitles with typos.”

The Korean language teacher summed it up. “They are the ‘text generation,’ communicating on KakaoTalk since childhood,” he said.
The text generation, who cannot read long sentences and understand abstract expression, has been born.

Recently, Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae mentioned “an inappropriate speech and behavior that even ‘Jangsam Isa’ wouldn’t do.”

On the subway heading home, I was absorbed by mobile news as usual. I looked up. Other passengers also had their eyes glued to the tiny screens. I wondered if this was just a generational issue. Am I so different?

Maryanne Wolf, an advocate for children and literacy around the world, discussed a surprising result in her book “Reader, Come Home.” She referred to the “deep reading circuit,” which allows readers to understand long and complicated sentences. It doesn’t last long, and readers with a substantial intelligence level would return to beginner-level reading if they lose the experience of immersion in reading.
How much immersed reading experience do you get?

JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 30, Page 29