South Korea, English, and globalisation
: investigating young Korean adults’ English regard

  • Neill Porteous

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The English language is an important part of South Korea’s globalisation push. However, there is limited understanding of what English is and means to Korean layfolk due to the effects of intensifying global flows being insufficiently considered and a focus on language attitudes. Consequently, awareness of different Englishes and potential variety associations are not evident. The desirability of specific English user models and particularly the reasons why are also unclear. Additionally, despite the perceived importance of English, there appears to be a lack of empirical investigation. This limited insight has been further compounded by gender imbalance in most survey samples. To better understand the perceptions of English among young Korean adults this study adopted a pragmatic world view and used the more expansive concept of language regard. A sequential explanatory mixed methods study using online questionnaires was completed by a survey sample with a well-balanced gender distribution. The data from the first phase (n=233) were used to inform the questioning of the study’s second phase (n=76). Summative content analysis was used to interpret the data.The findings indicate a lack of awareness of different English varieties other than American and British Englishes. Also, most participants were only able to provide associations with American and British Englishes. These findings combined with non-evaluative comments suggest language attitudes are often absent. English was considered important for several reasons, but communication rather than the commonly cited idea of employment was found most prominent. Further investigation, however, revealed that these two themes are often interrelated. The data also indicate that American English was the most desired user model. The most prominent reasons were status and perceived communicative effectiveness. Furthermore, the findings throughout the study suggest gender may affect English regard. In sum, these results have theoretical, methodological and pedagogical implications in Korea, as well as the wider context.
Date of Award2020
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorUrszula Clark (Supervisor) & Marcus Grandon (Supervisor)


  • keyword analysis
  • Korean English
  • language attitudes
  • language regard
  • pragmatic world view

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