Classroom activities for college learners of Korean as a foreign language: From the perspective of Multiple Intelligences

Sun-A Kim, Hae Min Han, Seung Hee Shin

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Research on teaching and learning situations and classroom activities for college-level Korean as a Foreign Language (KFL) is lacking, although the number of KFL learners is rapidly increasing worldwide. To fill this gap, this study conducted a survey of KFL teachers to examine the activities used and how they are employed by teachers in college Korean classrooms. The main focus of the study was on the analysis of classroom activities used and proposed by teachers based on the theory of multiple intelligences (MI). MI theory has been documented as a framework that not only helps foreign language teachers to design exciting and effective learner-centered activities, but also improves students’ learning outcomes. MI, however, is not widely known in the KFL field.
The present study aimed to answer the following four questions. First, what are the current KFL teaching and learning situations in university settings outside of Korea? Second, how do KFL teachers perceive the roles of classroom activities and actually employ them? Third, do activities used in KFL classrooms activate all eight distinctive intelligences of MI theory? Finally, what classroom activities are required in the KFL context?
62 people who taught KFL in 15 countries completed the survey. The results reveal that beginning-(45.1%) and intermediate-level (34.2%) Korean language courses were centered at universities outside of Korea, and that the most frequent type of courses had students meeting two to three times for three to five hours a week. Korean language textbooks published in Korea were used more than those published outside of Korea. Regarding classroom activities, 82.2% of the participating KFL teachers perceived that classroom activities were helpful for learners, but 59.7% of them actually employed activities in their in-class teaching. Over half (51.1%) of the teachers answered that limited time with a large number of students in one class hindered them from using classroom activities as much as they wished; 77.2% responded that they either completely designed new activities by themselves or revised those listed in textbooks. This suggests that a framework that can assist teachers in efficiently designing activities needs to be introduced to teachers, and that MI theory can fulfill the needs. Indeed, the classroom activities employed by KFL teachers concentrated on only two intelligences (i.e. the linguistic and the inter-personal intelligences) among the eight intelligence areas of MI theory. This implies that activities for the other six under-used intelligences could innovate and diversify college Korean classrooms, and that teachers need to learn MI theory and its pedagogical applications. Finally, many teachers answered that activities involving Korean culture were required in the KFL context. Based on these results, four MI-based classroom activities incorporating Korean contemporary culture are suggested at the end.
Original languageKorean
JournalElectronic Journal of Foreign Language Teaching
Issue numberSupplementary 1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015

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