This study intends to elucidate the differences in the status, curriculum, and textbook format of the national language textbook for high school in Korea and Japan. Based on this, this study makes an analysis of texts (readings) and vocabulary in th ...
This study intends to elucidate the differences in the status, curriculum, and textbook format of the national language textbook for high school in Korea and Japan. Based on this, this study makes an analysis of texts (readings) and vocabulary in the national language textbooks for high school in both countries in order to examine the characteristics of the socio-cultural values of both countries.
To achieve this goal, this study examined national language textbooks taught in 2015 for the first-grade high school students in Korea and Japan (Korean Language I(국어I) and Korean Language II(국어II) of Korea, Japanese Language Comprehensive (國語總合) of Japan). To secure objectivity, 3 types of national language textbooks used in a great number of schools were selected from each country.
<1> As for ‘vocabulary’, this study examined significant differences in different categories in the high school national language textbooks of Korean and Japan, based on Bunrui Goihyo (1964).
First, in ‘the overall number of words’ in 5 major categories, Korean language textbooks showed a great difference in the item ‘the main agent of human activities’ while Japanese language textbooks showed a great difference in the item ‘abstract relationship’.
As for the overall number of words in 43 middle categories, Korean language textbooks showed great differences in 14 items including human beings, family members･position, society, and economy. Japanese language textbooks showed great differences in 8 items including instructions, alliance･organization, mind, creative activities･writing, interaction with people, machine, and animal.
Korean language textbooks use titles of relatives of a wider range that are associated with husband and wife, grand parents, grandchildren, and brothers; and showed significant differences in specific person, words indicating persons, boss, monarch, ruling class, tax, wage, income, occupation, peace･war and various products. This can be understood as a direct reflection of actual life including economy and national security as greater emphasis is laid on individual, family, and relationship between subordinates and superiors.
In Japanese language textbooks, on the other hand, most of the words related to family were those about parents; many words were common names referring to humankind in general, and words indicating ethnicity and temporary positions; and there were significant differences in words related to feelings, knowledge/opinion, creative activities/writing, organization, assembly, and machine. This result confirms that Japanese society gives priority to group over individual, and is comparatively free from dominance-subordination or superior-subordinate relationships, and more focused on emotions and mental activities rather than on practical.
<2> This study explored the socio-cultural characteristics of Korea and Japan through examination of how ‘human beings’ are dealt with in the textbooks, focusing on the vocabulary related to ‘human beings’ in the national language textbooks for elementary, middle, and high schools in Korea and Japan.
In the item ‘human beings’, both Korean and Japanese language textbooks showed that as the level of school went higher, a greater number of words were used to collectively refer to people rather than specific persons. However, in Korean language textbooks, ‘group’ gave way to ‘individual’, while Japanese language textbooks showed the shift from ‘individual’ to ‘group’.
As for the item ‘family’, the proportion of vocabulary on parents was highest in both countries. Especially, as the level of school was lower, the role of mother was regarded as important. National language textbooks of both countries showed more words related to ‘son’ than those related to ‘daughter’. On the other hand, Korean language textbooks revealed Confucian ideology more than Japanese counterpart did. The Confucian tendency was especially confirmed by the preference for ‘father’ and ‘grandfather’ in high school Korean language textbooks as well as the great importance generally attached to ‘the eldest son’ and ‘elder brother’.
In the item ‘race･ethnic group’, Korean language textbooks were using a greater amount of vocabulary on foreigners. On the other hand, adoration of the ruling class was also found in the words like ‘king’ and ‘yangban’, which reveals the way of thinking that values bloodline and nationalism as well as awareness of social classes. Japanese language textbooks showed a great amount of vocabulary used to express ‘person’, which indicates high interest in ‘human beings in general’.
In the item ‘member･position’, national language textbooks of both countries showed more various names for occupations as the level of school moved higher. Korean language textbooks had many words related to ‘boss’, particularly names for high-ranking officials. On the other hand, Japanese language textbooks had many words related to ‘temporary positions’ such as ‘author, listener, and supervisor’.
<3> This study also analyzed the proportions of the readings, exercises, and literary readings as well as the distribution and characteristics of the genres of novel, drama, essay, and poetry of the high school national language textbooks of Korea and Japan. Based on this, this paper focused on ‘novel’, which is a representative literary genre in the national language textbooks of the two countries, to elucidate the differences of socio-cultural values between the two countries by examining the gender gap among authors and characters, family relations, themes, ideologies related to war and peace.
Japan has a high proportion of teaching materials and readings related to emotional literature whereas Korea has a high proportion of non-literary teaching materials and learning activities that are intended to convey information and persuade students.
Unlike the textbooks for elementary and middle school students in both countries, the gender gap among of the authors and characters in the national language textbooks for high school students in both countries is narrowing. But there is still room for improvement. The characters in Korean language textbooks mainly consist of family relations and deal with issues centered around the family.
As for the subject matters of novels in which socio-cultural characteristics are most evident, modern-contemporary novels (14 in total) in Korean language textbooks mainly feature readings about war and peace reporting the damage incurred by the Koran War and the Japanese colonial rule as well as readings related to social status of women and multi-cultural issues. Classical novels (6 in total) also deal with gender gap and social discrimination. In summary, the novels in the Korean language textbooks for high school show an effort to lead students to the learning goals through various learning activities by making use of readings that cover issues of manifestly social and historical nature.
On the other hand, modern-contemporary novels (17 in total) in Japanese language textbooks for high school students tend to avoid social and historical issues. Unlike Japanese language textbooks for elementary and junior high school students, most of them are so-called fantasy novels or Bildungsromans intended to provide kindness and hope for students. Regarding topics related to war and peace, there is only 1 reading, which is about the Battle of Okinawa focusing on the Japanese victims intended to impress the reader. As for classical novels (28 in total), they are materials of paleographical significance rather than of specific values since most of them deal with humorous subjects or historical incidents via Chinese folk tales, etc.
This study pointed out the need for improving the system of textbook production. The results of this study may be used as material for textbook production in the future. This study suggested the need to reconsider the proportion of literary and non-literary readings, texts, and learning activities in textbooks. This study also pointed out the problems of gender gap and specific values such as Confucian ideologies, loyalty and filial piety, and superior-subordinate relationship as well as concentration of themes of literary works on specific issues in the textbooks discussed. It proposed the need for developing creative texts that would encourage imagnation of students.