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Let's turn around the waygugin teachers problem to apply to

 
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earthquakez



Joined: 10 Nov 2010

PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 1:43 am    Post subject: Let's turn around the waygugin teachers problem to apply to Reply with quote

Korean English teachers in the school system and hagwons.

I've heard countless times from students both adult and teenager about 'problem waygugin teachers'. You know, the stereotype that most of us are not good human beings and are up to no good in Korea.

The complaints range from the usual 'They come here for the women', 'They have no jobs/lives in their own countries', they are criminals (often the adults cite waygugin teachers as child abusers, drug dealers and takers) and they also commit what Koreans consider the 'crime' of blogging in less than flattering ways about Korea (fairly mildly most of the time) and sleeping with Korean women. Consensually.

What I have noted in all my jobs is that Korean teachers of English, most of whom under 40 have lived or studied in an English speaking country, are not necessarily the cream of the crop.

When I came to Korea I discovered that Koreans who speak English and teach it for a living are not necessarily globally minded, open minded enough to be interested for real in English speaking countries' cultures, or approachable enough to become what we would call friends.

Why is this? Anybody want to contribute their opinion? I have found the most friendly Koreans to actually not speak much or any English at all. My current boss speaks about zero real English yet is far more open minded and genuine towards foreigners than the Korean female teachers I've worked with in my time here as a rule. They range from late 20s to mid 30s.

A theory I have is that there is a disproportionate number of Koreans with issues in their personal lives earning their living by teaching English. Especially at hagwons. The younger ones I have met at various hagwon jobs over a few years seemed incredibly narrow minded for young women who had spent from 2 to 4 years living in London, Sydney, Vancouver, Los Angeles etc.

They seem to be doing what they do to escape early marriages, while away time before they get married, escaped Korean social pressures by going abroad but didn't make foreign friends or really want. I think nationalism plays a part, too.

Paradoxically the older Korean teachers of English I have worked with seem more openly nationalistic but more in a 'proud of how Korea became a first world country and brainpower-focused country'. I can appreciate that.

They heard first-hand from older generations and experienced themselves political, social, economic and of course national struggles.

It seems to me that the nationalism I don't like among Koreans who are in their late 20s to mid 30s is based on a contradiction - they want to be westernised, they envy the freedom I had in my upbringing to choose what I wanted to do most of the time, the way in which I don't have to do things such as get married because my family tells me (it doesn't - I am referring to Korean norms here) but at the same time they are resentful of that freedom and lack of peer pressures. Every society has peer pressure but Asian societies more than western societies and Korea has far more peer pressure than any other society I'v experienced first-hand.

I also noticed that young Korean teachers from single parent families whether through divorce or death have serious issues - again, the stigma of single parent families went long ago in the UK except when people are debating welfare and living together and raising children without marriage, divorcing etc are norms in the UK, Europe, Australia, Canada, the US etc. Not in Korea.

What do you think? Can we throw back the stereotype against us by pointing out that Korean teachers of English don't exactly seem to all be well adjusted and right for the job?
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edwardcatflap



Joined: 22 Mar 2009

PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 2:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
What do you think? Can we throw back the stereotype against us by pointing out that Korean teachers of English don't exactly seem to all be well adjusted and right for the job?


You will get slated by lots of people on here for trying to stereotype Koreans, even though you are reacting to them stereotyping foreign English teachers. Actually I'm not sure I agree with your generalisations. I've probably got to know a lot more Korean English State school teachers than you (through being in teacher training here for nearly ten years) and have found them to be very open and globally minded - though it could be those are the types that want to improve themselves by doing courses. I haven't met many Korean hagwan teachers so wouldn't want to generalise on that subject. The women who get into state school teaching here often are the cream of the crop, in terms of educational achievement as teacher training colleges are pretty competititve
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newb



Joined: 27 Aug 2012
Location: Korea

PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 4:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
have found them to be very open and globally minded


Doubt, I have. Most are uninterest in teaching and are lazy as they are supported by one of the most powerful union in Korea. Their only interest is moving on to better schools every 3 or 4 years and moving up the ladder until retirement. Sometimes I wonder what purpose PS serve for the kids in Korea.
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JustinC



Joined: 10 Mar 2012
Location: We Are The World!

PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 5:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It sounds as though you've heard a few people - either Korean or expat - say some things and taken them to heart. I've never heard from students about "problem waygugin teachers", I've only heard this said by other NETs. The Koreans I've spoken to for any length of time have been always very courteous and polite. I hope they've also been open-minded enough to see through the stories that are apparently reported either through the gutter press or gossip and treat me as an individual and not 'one of them'.

I've spoken at length to quite a few Koreans, in English, and they have been genuinely open to me and had some knowledge about the West. Could you clarify 'globally minded'? Do you mean interested in other cultures? You say the people who are interested (in what you have to say) don't speak English, would that be because they have little knowledge of English or the culture of English-speaking countries, while those that already can speak English have read plenty about them?

I agree that the stigma of single parents in the UK has vanished, although in the 60s and 70s it was very much apparent, but I think your question "Can we throw back the stereotype against us by pointing out that Korean teachers of English don't exactly seem to all be well adjusted and right for the job?" is ... well .. inappropriate for a teachers' board, when we all work with and teach Koreans on a daily basis.
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YTMND



Joined: 16 Jan 2012
Location: You're the man now dog!!

PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 7:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Can we throw back the stereotype against us by pointing out that Korean teachers of English don't exactly seem to all be well adjusted and right for the job?


I don't see why there is a need to fight this. I have met people on both sides of the fence. There are the "Mr. Miyagi" types (Mr. Han in China Wink) who are wise upstairs but only show it through their menial labor skills as maintenance workers. There are also the boisterous types who simply have a high ego, to which I reply:

'They come here for the women'

Ok, so I don't find American women who cake on makeup like a clown attractive.

Secondly, most single Asian women who make it to Plymouth Rock are not the easiest on the eyes. So, actually the stereotype should be, "They stay here because of the women".

Before I came to Korea, I didn't think Asians were that attractive. So, I definitely didn't go to Korea in order to be with a Korean or even an Asian woman. I had 300 dollars in the bank and fit the other stereotype.

'They have no jobs/lives in their own countries'

Ok, and would Korea be pumping out Samsung Galaxy Tabs (along with the long list of regular cellphones) if Korea was completely autonomous and didn't need the rest of the world to stay afloat economically?

There is a reason why Japan and Korea produce high quality products and China can use its masses of people to get by on cheaper products. Japan and Korea are more dependent than China is globally.

I don't know about having "no life", but yes, in America we have the choice to learn Spanish and then French in schools. Asian languages, especially Korean is not as readily available to learn in the Western world http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_languages_by_number_of_native_speakers

If we are not learning Hindi, we are definitely not learning Korean by the looks of that list. So, this is a comical benign argument. If any of the boisterous Koreans want to duke it out at a bar over a bottle of soju or something, I just bring up these tidbits and watch their mouth go "Oh, ok". They shut up afterwards.

There are natives in all parts of Asia though that are very nice to hang out with. I met a Thai group while in Korea, and these guys probably had physical labor jobs, weren't very well educated, but they were great people to hang out with and had great personalities.

I would never have said to them, "Oh you are only here for the money, you don't have a job/life back home in Thailand."

Throw that one out and see how the egoists reply. All of a sudden they try to become altruistic saints, like Mother Teresa has struck them with divine intervention.

Maybe the blindspot is that in the Western world we don't move up in a rigid manner like the Japanese and Koreans do. Koreans and Japanese tend to stay with companies longer because the belief is that if you change jobs too often it is seen as a bad thing. If we take on a better job in the West, it is more out of preference.

They can't conceptualize the idea of moving up this way, and they hardly have any time to enjoy a holiday outside of family events. In the West we might take the family on a vacation for a week. When I was in Korea and Japan, it was more of a 1 day event and they returned home in the evening. What kind of vacation is that?
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transmogrifier



Joined: 02 Jan 2012
Location: Seoul, South Korea

PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 8:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fighting stereotypes with stereotypes. That's never been done before.
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TheUrbanMyth



Joined: 28 Jan 2003
Location: It's not a superiority complex when you really are superior

PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2012 3:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JustinC wrote:
It sounds as though you've heard a few people - either Korean or expat - say some things and taken them to heart. I've never heard from students about "problem waygugin teachers", I've only heard this said by other NETs. The Koreans I've spoken to for any length of time have been always very courteous and polite. I hope they've also been open-minded enough to see through the stories that are apparently reported either through the gutter press or gossip and treat me as an individual and not 'one of them'.

I've spoken at length to quite a few Koreans, in English, and they have been genuinely open to me and had some knowledge about the West. Could you clarify 'globally minded'? Do you mean interested in other cultures? You say the people who are interested (in what you have to say) don't speak English, would that be because they have little knowledge of English or the culture of English-speaking countries, while those that already can speak English have read plenty about them?

I agree that the stigma of single parents in the UK has vanished, although in the 60s and 70s it was very much apparent, but I think your question "Can we throw back the stereotype against us by pointing out that Korean teachers of English don't exactly seem to all be well adjusted and right for the job?" is ... well .. inappropriate for a teachers' board, when we all work with and teach Koreans on a daily basis.




This.

I don't always see eye to eye with you Mr.JustinC but I agree with the parts of your post that I bolded.
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andrewchon



Joined: 16 Nov 2008
Location: In my goshiwon cubicle. Seeking moksha.

PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2012 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

quakez style, sounds like you think you've been snubbed by your Korean english teachers. Koreans of opposite sex will habitually play 'I'm not interested in him/her' game in their first umm... several dozen meetings. They appear to be insular, close minded porcupines because that maintains their facade to their peers. If they don't, they have to endure hard time from their envious friends. Boy and girl being friends still is a no-no in this culture. They secretly want to, of course, but are highly fearful of doing it in PUBLIC. If you want them to open up to you, then you have to be discreet. e.g. meet where nobody can see you, like dark places, or some place far away where none of their acquintances will also be there.
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thebektionary



Joined: 11 May 2011

PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2012 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I didn't read the comments but I read your post. Personally, I've had some really amazing, open-minded Korean coworkers as well as some rotten, racist, and completely closed-minded ones, so I don't think we can make generalizations. I understand where you're coming from because before I had any great Korean co-workers I had really rotten ones so of course it was difficult for me to not make generalizations at that time. However, now I have some amazing, amazing co-workers who are so globally-minded, interested in art, theater, music, international politics and culture, etc. who are very interested in America as well as my life in America. Some I can even call friends. So I think it just depends on who you're working with. Everyone is different.
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Malislamusrex



Joined: 01 Feb 2010

PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2012 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This stereotype is a good thing. The expected standard is so low if you don't go to work pissed and are totally shit at your job you are liked.
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