Currently, literacy decline of Korean is extremely severe. After the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, reading education which has been supported by schools is in danger. Classrooms and school libraries that have offered reading materials to students are now opened limitingly. Factors that bring the teenagers who do not like books are now vanished. According to the result of Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) conducted by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2018, the reading ability of teenagers in Korea has decreased consistently. It is 12 years ago when the Korean students had the best reading ability, and the ability has fallen since then. However, it is not only the problem of teenagers as the adults’ literacy is not high. Also, there are significant differences between the age groups. As the age increases, literacy continues to decline. In sum, literacy of people in their 10s and 20s is higher than other ages, but even that is continuously falling. This seems pessimistic. Then, what is the reason of declining literacy?
The immediate cause is that people do not read books. They cannot precisely acknowledge the value of reading. Most people think that reading is studying. They feel uncomfortable about it since they are busy and have no time for it. People often say that they know the merit of reading and they would like to spend time for it when they are relaxed. Unless people actively spare time on reading, that time would not come for the rest of life.
I think reading is same as exercising. Reading books to develop literacy is similar to exercising which improves muscular strength. Most students have at least one negative experience of reading when they attend to schools. Obligations to read books which are hard to read or writing book reports that are done by force might be the examples. Adults force teenagers to read books until they are middle school students, saying that reading is conducive to effective study. Then they do not allow high school students to read books because they have to study hard for the university entrance examination. After the examination, students do not read books except for the essential ones. If they continue to refrain books even after becoming adults, literacy will decrease and they will feel difficulty in their daily lives. Although they try to read a book again, it will be hard to do it as their ability to choose books and to find or understand the information is deteriorated.
Then what do we have to do? It is necessary to read constantly and find the value of it before the literacy worsens. The best thing is a successful reading experience. To achieve it, we have to spare time and set up an environment. If it is hard to visit libraries or bookstores in offline, then look around the Internet libraries where diverse books are available. Find a book that fits on your interest and reading ability. It does not need to be a book that is hard or useful. Also, find people who love books, join book clubs, and talk about books with them. Post about a book which was meaningful to you on Social Network Service (SNS) and compare your opinion with others. It would not be entertaining at first and might feel nothingness like you are doing exercises with empty hands. However, think it as a process of developing strengths. Literacy is also a “strength,” so we need to consistently build up our brain’s muscle. When literacy is increased, a time when you can feel completion and abundant pleasure will come. Remember the joyful experience and try to maintain it.
Kim Hae-in firstname.lastname@example.org
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