The 'Young Learner' has proved extremely lucrative as a market niche, especially-but not exclusively-in language education. Yet as a theoretical construct, it remains poorly defined and undifferentiated (in Korea it refers mainly to preschool and early elementary grades, while elsewhere it can be used freely from infancy to adolescence). This paper uses a systemic-functional investigation of two moments in the early school lives of Korean children to show their specificity; we use an analysis of Mood use to show how Korean teachers find out whether children can or cannot tell their teachers what they can and cannot do using the honorific sub-system of Korean Mood, and an analysis of Transitivity and embedding to show how Korean teachers attempt to teach make-believe to children. We end with some modest but practical pedagogical conclusions taken from the data itself. Less modestly, we argue that the 'Young Learner' should be retired.
- systemic-functional linguistics
- young Learner
- make believe