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State of the ESL economy: Is the party over?
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youtuber



Joined: 13 Sep 2009

PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think Korea, like Japan, will soon get over the fact that only a white person can speak excellent English. Although Korea hates Japan, they sure seem to emulate a lot of what they do.

And then the floodgates will open.

I would guess China will be the next hotspot. Also due to the fact that Koreans just aren't popping out babies like they used to, but China is as horny as ever.
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Unposter



Joined: 04 Jun 2006

PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 6:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think Moldy Rutabaga makes some good points. I, too, think Vietnam and China are going to be growth areas. And, I think "globalism" for lack of a better term is going to continue to keep the ESL field booming.

While I think many have mentioned other variables, still the main focus on the discussion has been educational attainment. From my experience, unless you have a Ph.D. and sometimes not even that, getting a secure position with regular raises is rare to impossible in Korea. Those who have gotten them are generally in the right place at the right time and have the skills to take advantage of the opportunity. There aren't any uniform rules for qualifications for hiring by Korean universities and there aren't any uniform rules for how to qualify for secure employment and there aren't any uniform rules for how to get regular raises. Those who have found themselves in good situations, though admittedly had to have some skills to get there, are not necessarilly the most qualified, they were just lucky enough to find themselves in the situation they were and had enough ability to take advantage of it.

What is missing in this discussion is how much getting along with Koreans, in the case of universities this includes not only studens but faculty and administration is the essential criteria for success. This is not only through Korean language skills, though it can help, but just having a personality that appeals to Koreans. I am neither criticizing this nor applauding it. This system has its advantages and disadvantages. I am merely stating this as a fact.

All the degrees and all the experience only gets you so far in Korea if you do not get along with Koreans. And, if you get along well with Koreans, you may not need all those degrees. Your "connections" may open a lot more doors.

If it were me, and it is only my opinion, and as always take it for whatever it is worth, if you are the type of person who Koreans like than Korea might be the place for you. If you are the kind of person who Koreans are neutral toward or even dislike, you may want to look other places.

Korea is a great place, regardless of your personality, to work for a year or two, save some money, and then move on with your life. But, if you are serious about wanting to make a long term commitment to Korean ESL or Korea, you need to think hard about how well you fit in here. Those who are looking to change things, despite some of its admireability, are probably going to be somewhat miserable. There are plenty of ways and plenty of places to make money. You do not have to do it here.

One of the big problems with the qualifications game is vertually none of these degrees being promoted are Korean specific. And, unless they are, their worthiness, in my humble opinion, is limited. I personally believe that experience here in Korea can be much more valuable. Being able to relate with, understand and motivate Korean students; being able to relate with and work with Korean faculty; and being able to work with Korean administrators can be much more valuable and can do more to advance the field of ESL/EFL in Korea and may do more to improve the English of your students than any of the time and money you spend on improving your qualifications.

For both good and for bad, it often is who you know more than what you know in Korea.

It is this aspect of Korea which can frustrate professional teachers. They expect things to be like they are in their home countries. When much of the time it is not. If they can adapt to their new environment, professional teachers may have an impact. But otherwise, there can be great limitations.

In some ways, I think the best background for teaching in Korea are degrees or just general educations that include cultural awareness, sensitivity and understanding. Basic teaching skills and an understanding of second language skills are relatively easy to master. But, cultural awareness, sensitivity and understanding are much harder and much more necessary in Korea.

I have known a lot of people who have cleaned up in Korea. I have known a lot of people to languish. And, I have known a lot of people who have been cheated right and left. A lot of it has to do with luck, personality and an ability to adapt culturally. Rarely has it had to do with educational qualifications.
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mongolian spot



Joined: 15 Sep 2009
Location: Seoul

PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 6:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unposter wrote:
I think Moldy Rutabaga makes some good points. I, too, think Vietnam and China are going to be growth areas. And, I think "globalism" for lack of a better term is going to continue to keep the ESL field booming.

While I think many have mentioned other variables, still the main focus on the discussion has been educational attainment. From my experience, unless you have a Ph.D. and sometimes not even that, getting a secure position with regular raises is rare to impossible in Korea. Those who have gotten them are generally in the right place at the right time and have the skills to take advantage of the opportunity. There aren't any uniform rules for qualifications for hiring by Korean universities and there aren't any uniform rules for how to qualify for secure employment and there aren't any uniform rules for how to get regular raises. Those who have found themselves in good situations, though admittedly had to have some skills to get there, are not necessarilly the most qualified, they were just lucky enough to find themselves in the situation they were and had enough ability to take advantage of it.

What is missing in this discussion is how much getting along with Koreans, in the case of universities this includes not only studens but faculty and administration is the essential criteria for success. This is not only through Korean language skills, though it can help, but just having a personality that appeals to Koreans. I am neither criticizing this nor applauding it. This system has its advantages and disadvantages. I am merely stating this as a fact.

All the degrees and all the experience only gets you so far in Korea if you do not get along with Koreans. And, if you get along well with Koreans, you may not need all those degrees. Your "connections" may open a lot more doors.

If it were me, and it is only my opinion, and as always take it for whatever it is worth, if you are the type of person who Koreans like than Korea might be the place for you. If you are the kind of person who Koreans are neutral toward or even dislike, you may want to look other places.

Korea is a great place, regardless of your personality, to work for a year or two, save some money, and then move on with your life. But, if you are serious about wanting to make a long term commitment to Korean ESL or Korea, you need to think hard about how well you fit in here. Those who are looking to change things, despite some of its admireability, are probably going to be somewhat miserable. There are plenty of ways and plenty of places to make money. You do not have to do it here.

One of the big problems with the qualifications game is vertually none of these degrees being promoted are Korean specific. And, unless they are, their worthiness, in my humble opinion, is limited. I personally believe that experience here in Korea can be much more valuable. Being able to relate with, understand and motivate Korean students; being able to relate with and work with Korean faculty; and being able to work with Korean administrators can be much more valuable and can do more to advance the field of ESL/EFL in Korea and may do more to improve the English of your students than any of the time and money you spend on improving your qualifications.

For both good and for bad, it often is who you know more than what you know in Korea.

It is this aspect of Korea which can frustrate professional teachers. They expect things to be like they are in their home countries. When much of the time it is not. If they can adapt to their new environment, professional teachers may have an impact. But otherwise, there can be great limitations.

In some ways, I think the best background for teaching in Korea are degrees or just general educations that include cultural awareness, sensitivity and understanding. Basic teaching skills and an understanding of second language skills are relatively easy to master. But, cultural awareness, sensitivity and understanding are much harder and much more necessary in Korea.

I have known a lot of people who have cleaned up in Korea. I have known a lot of people to languish. And, I have known a lot of people who have been cheated right and left. A lot of it has to do with luck, personality and an ability to adapt culturally. Rarely has it had to do with educational qualifications.


Your comments about having a personality that suits Koreans is spot on. I sometimes feel like Korea really is a losers paradise.

Those that enjoy zero social skills back home seem to fit like a glove with many Koreans, Koreans seem to embrace the oddballs in ways i have never seen before. Koreans struggle to deal with normal minded westerners with a serious mind, they just cannot understand.

To really 'fit in' with Koreans you would have to have the personality that finds it ok to put up with the bs and be walked on. Just my opinion.
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Moldy Rutabaga



Joined: 01 Jul 2003
Location: Ansan, Korea

PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 6:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that having a personality conducive to working with Koreans is a given. Perhaps it is such a given that we fail to talk about it and need to state it once in a while! It is not necessarily being walked on, although it can be that. It is also letting some things roll off you.

To be slightly cynical, I often use this analogy for Korean ESL:

A foreman hires a team to dig a ditch to lay a pipe in. On the first morning, they all show up and are given teaspoons to dig. One group of workers tells the foreman, "This is absurd--why don't we use shovels? This will never get done!" The foreman answers, "Thank you for your opinion. This is our traditional way of doing things. Go dig the ditch as we asked you." The group protests and complains until all are either fired or quit in frustration. The second group shrugs and says, "As long as I get paid, I'll dig with a toothpick if they want me to. What the hell do I care if the ditch is ever finished?" This group can last a long time, but at times they feel a little bitter for having prostituted themselves in this way. A third group says, "I am paid to dig a ditch with a spoon. Maybe I can try a tablespoon or a soup spoon without causing problems. It will not be perfect, but at least I feel like I'm making things better."
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some waygug-in



Joined: 25 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's a very interesting analogy, but it lacks one point;

that being that they now are asking for advanced degrees in heavy-equipment operation and or civil engineering just to qualify as a spoon-operator.
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Francis-Pax



Joined: 20 Nov 2005

PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 8:36 pm    Post subject: Re: State of the ESL economy: Is the party over? Reply with quote

Dharma_Blue wrote:
Francis-Pax wrote:
With EFL salaries around the world, Korea is not the best deal. There are many other places where the same amount money can be maid.


For example? A desert compound teaching spoiled rich Saudi kids? Vietnam or China? I doubt it, in most cases. Japan? Super competitive, plus almost no chance of tenure in universities there, either.

Seriously, where are all these places where you can make the same amount of money as Korea?


Dharma, I understand your attitude; however, you have fallen into a lot of stereotypes:

-Saudi Arabia is about teaching spoiled rich kids that don't care (yet, you have never been there);
-Vietnam and China, I assume you have not seriously looked for work there either (could be wrong...);
-Ahh, yes, and Japan.

You, like others, have fallen into a trap that says Korea is the EFL country on the planet. I am not going to do the leg for you, nor reveal my sources of information -- just know this: seek and you will find. And above all, do not restrict yourself the myopic world of Dave's ESL Cafe.

The biggest problem I have Korea are the attitudes that Koreans have developed towards English language teachers and the job offers in Korea have continually gotten worse -- more hours and with same or less pay.
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Moldy Rutabaga



Joined: 01 Jul 2003
Location: Ansan, Korea

PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 8:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The biggest problem I have Korea are the attitudes that Koreans have developed towards English language teachers and the job offers in Korea have continually gotten worse -- more hours and with same or less pay.

This is the essential vicious circle that Korean hogwan ESL has fallen into: Korean employers believe that foreign teachers are unqualified and treat them poorly, and so good teachers go elsewhere, leaving behind unqualified ones. It is a generalization, but I think the general case will increasingly apply in coming years.

I have been lucky in that I worked in a good hogwan. There are still some out there, and there are capable teachers who have a decent time here, certainly better than they would at home waiting on tables. We're dealing with percentages.
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creeper1



Joined: 30 Jan 2007

PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 8:55 pm    Post subject: Stupid Reply with quote

Moldy Rutabaga wrote:
I think that having a personality conducive to working with Koreans is a given. Perhaps it is such a given that we fail to talk about it and need to state it once in a while! It is not necessarily being walked on, although it can be that. It is also letting some things roll off you.

To be slightly cynical, I often use this analogy for Korean ESL:

A foreman hires a team to dig a ditch to lay a pipe in. On the first morning, they all show up and are given teaspoons to dig. One group of workers tells the foreman, "This is absurd--why don't we use shovels? This will never get done!" The foreman answers, "Thank you for your opinion. This is our traditional way of doing things. Go dig the ditch as we asked you." The group protests and complains until all are either fired or quit in frustration. The second group shrugs and says, "As long as I get paid, I'll dig with a toothpick if they want me to. What the hell do I care if the ditch is ever finished?" This group can last a long time, but at times they feel a little bitter for having prostituted themselves in this way. A third group says, "I am paid to dig a ditch with a spoon. Maybe I can try a tablespoon or a soup spoon without causing problems. It will not be perfect, but at least I feel like I'm making things better."


THis is the most stupid comparison I have ever read in my life. What planet are you on?

A native "teacher" has a tool the size of a shovel while the Korean teacher has only a spoon. Talk about delusions of grandeur... Rolling Eyes
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some waygug-in



Joined: 25 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Troll alert, someone needs reading lessons.
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youtuber



Joined: 13 Sep 2009

PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 9:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually the money we make in Korea is actually decreasing.

This is because the wages themselves have stagnated, but rising inflation slowly eats away at our spending power.

That's awesome.
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Thiuda



Joined: 14 Mar 2006
Location: Religion ist für Sklaven geschaffen, für Wesen ohne Geist.

PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2009 1:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unposter wrote:
While I think many have mentioned other variables, still the main focus on the discussion has been educational attainment. From my experience, unless you have a Ph.D. and sometimes not even that, getting a secure position with regular raises is rare to impossible in Korea. Those who have gotten them are generally in the right place at the right time and have the skills to take advantage of the opportunity. There aren't any uniform rules for qualifications for hiring by Korean universities and there aren't any uniform rules for how to qualify for secure employment and there aren't any uniform rules for how to get regular raises. Those who have found themselves in good situations, though admittedly had to have some skills to get there, are not necessarilly the most qualified, they were just lucky enough to find themselves in the situation they were and had enough ability to take advantage of it.


I disagree with your assessment of the Korean job market, Unposter. You're implying that luck is the determining factor in who gets the good jobs, which is just as much BS in Korea as it is in any other country. Hard work, determination and networking gets you the good jobs. Individuals are in the right place and the right time because they maneuver themselves there, not because of a lucky break.

Educational attainment is just one of the ways that individuals bring themselves into position for better opportunities. All of the individuals that I know who have great jobs (or are making good coin doing their own thing) are continually on the lookout for opportunities and, when offered an opportunity, they always take it and see were it takes them. They also create their own opportunities, by doing research and publishing for example, and don't just wait for opportunities to arise.

As soon as people start actively taking responsibility for their life and stop blaming circumstance, they'll get what they think they deserve.

Unposter wrote:
What is missing in this discussion is how much getting along with Koreans, in the case of universities this includes not only studens but faculty and administration is the essential criteria for success.This is not only through Korean language skills, though it can help, but just having a personality that appeals to Koreans. I am neither criticizing this nor applauding it. This system has its advantages and disadvantages. I am merely stating this as a fact.


You'll find that getting along with your colleagues and peers is an important factor in being successful not just in Korea, but in other countries as well. By saying that certain individuals "just have[] a personality that appeals to Koreans" you're negating the fact that individuals are in fact able to mediate their interactions with others in an active manner, i.e. they think about their interlocutors cultural background and their personality and consequently tailor their behavior accordingly.

Unposter wrote:
I have known a lot of people who have cleaned up in Korea. I have known a lot of people to languish. And, I have known a lot of people who have been cheated right and left. A lot of it has to do with luck, personality and an ability to adapt culturally. Rarely has it had to do with educational qualifications.


Success in any environment demands active participation: think critically about where you are and where you want to get to, create the opportunities necessary to move towards set goals and take responsibility for yourself. Stop drifting through life blaming others for your inability to achieve your dreams.
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Unposter



Joined: 04 Jun 2006

PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2009 1:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I rarely like to involve myself in the give and take of Daves even if there are ad hominem attacks but I do want to respond.

I don't think there is a clear criteria for who gets what jobs in Korea, maybe because it is a foreign country. In the U.S., we could say that the Professors at so and so university are good because of their personal reputation and their school's reputation. But, that just doesn't happen with ESL/EFL jobs in Korea. People are in the position they happen to be in to a certain degree because of luck. Of course, there are other variables but to deny luck or to negatively focus on luck is not accurate. People are in a certain place, they are introduced to certain people and because of that they just happen to find themselves in the position they are in. It does happen and it happens a lot in Korea.

I never said anything about the realization of my dreams. I am pretty content in my job - 9 years and counting at the same institution. I just point out that Korea is not just a place where education and strong skills and abilities are automatically rewarded (nor necessarily should be rewarded). They are often not rewarded. I do realize that some people's experience are not the same as mine. But, I hope you realize your experience is not always the same as mine. So, please state your differences with me differently and do not assume you know something about me Mr. Educated.
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Thiuda



Joined: 14 Mar 2006
Location: Religion ist für Sklaven geschaffen, für Wesen ohne Geist.

PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2009 1:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unposter wrote:
I rarely like to involve myself in the give and take of Daves even if there are ad hominem attacks but I do want to respond.

I don't think there is a clear criteria for who gets what jobs in Korea, maybe because it is a foreign country. In the U.S., we could say that the Professors at so and so university are good because of their personal reputation and their school's reputation. But, that just doesn't happen with ESL/EFL jobs in Korea. People are in the position they happen to be in to a certain degree because of luck. Of course, there are other variables but to deny luck or to negatively focus on luck is not accurate. People are in a certain place, they are introduced to certain people and because of that they just happen to find themselves in the position they are in. It does happen and it happens a lot in Korea.

I never said anything about the realization of my dreams. I am pretty content in my job - 9 years and counting at the same institution. I just point out that Korea is not just a place where education and strong skills and abilities are automatically rewarded (nor necessarily should be rewarded). They are often not rewarded. I do realize that some people's experience are not the same as mine. But, I hope you realize your experience is not always the same as mine. So, please state your differences with me differently and do not assume you know something about me Mr. Educated.


Sorry Unposter, I didn't mean to attack you personally. I just felt that what you wrote is precisely the type of reasoning that one hears so often from people who blame "Korea" for their inability to realize their goals. I have a problem with this line of thought because it leads to individuals blaming others for what is their personal issue.
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morrisonhotel



Joined: 18 Jul 2009
Location: Gyeonggi-do

PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2009 1:56 am    Post subject: Re: State of the ESL economy: Is the party over? Reply with quote

Francis-Pax wrote:
With EFL salaries around the world, Korea is not the best deal. There are many other places where the same amount money can be maid.


I haven't started teaching in Korea yet so my opinion may not be hugely valid when it comes to discussion on EFL salaries, but I have a friend teaching in Cyprus who is paid a small fortune.
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Netz



Joined: 11 Oct 2004
Location: a parallel universe where people and places seem to be the exact opposite of "normal"

PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2009 2:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unposter wrote:
I rarely like to involve myself in the give and take of Daves even if there are ad hominem attacks but I do want to respond.

I don't think there is a clear criteria for who gets what jobs in Korea, maybe because it is a foreign country. In the U.S., we could say that the Professors at so and so university are good because of their personal reputation and their school's reputation. But, that just doesn't happen with ESL/EFL jobs in Korea. People are in the position they happen to be in to a certain degree because of luck. Of course, there are other variables but to deny luck or to negatively focus on luck is not accurate. People are in a certain place, they are introduced to certain people and because of that they just happen to find themselves in the position they are in. It does happen and it happens a lot in Korea.

I never said anything about the realization of my dreams. I am pretty content in my job - 9 years and counting at the same institution. I just point out that Korea is not just a place where education and strong skills and abilities are automatically rewarded (nor necessarily should be rewarded). They are often not rewarded. I do realize that some people's experience are not the same as mine. But, I hope you realize your experience is not always the same as mine. So, please state your differences with me differently and do not assume you know something about me Mr. Educated.


I agree completely, and believe it's due to particular facets of Korean culture that seem to be dependent on "knowing" a person, i.e. being introduced by another mutual acquaintance. The old adage about "not what you know..." comes to mind.

Having the "right connections" is worth way more than having the "right skills" in Korea, more so than in most other places I've lived.

And "yes", Luck is definitely a huge part of it imho as well.
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