roald.maliangkay at anu.edu.au
Sun Sep 20 23:03:35 EDT 2009
Dear Scott and Ross and others,
I support your view that English is very dominant – which is why I was quite happy to see han'gŭl being adopted by this small community in Indonesia recently, in spite of the many reservations I have – but like Scott I feel that we should not deny students these opportunities a priori, but simply inform them well of the many possible pitfalls (too heavy workload, no proper health insurance, no proper working space, etc.). I have taught at several hagwŏn in the past, and sometimes the experience was not a good one, but I would not have been able to support my studies without it and I would certainly do it again. I have a number of foreign exchange students who are interested in opportunities like these, and for a number of them it may be the only option they have to go to Korea. Going to Korea, for whatever reason, can be a very important (epic?) experience, one that our program's many efforts will never be able to emulate, and if we happen to lose a few students because they find out that after working there for a while it is worth giving up their degree for, or in fact not their cup of tea, then I feel that that is simply a loss we must accept. In our program such incidences have, however, not been an issue so far, and we do try, of course, to send all students to Korea to simply study (and explore). Most of them agree with us, it seems to me, that going to Korea is vital to being able to gain an understanding of the cultures there and I think it is our responsibility to discuss with each of them what options they have and what they should consider.
Just my two cents worth... :o)
----- Original Message -----
From: "J.Scott Burgeson" <jsburgeson at yahoo.com>
Date: Monday, September 21, 2009 12:00 pm
Subject: Re: [KS] EPIK
To: Korean Studies Discussion List <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
> While I am sympathetic to Ross King's view that English is
> overdominant in Korea, and have addressed the issue in print
> myself in the past (see link below), I find his elitism rather
> astonishing (or should I say somewhat typical for certain
> members of this List?). Not all of us live happily and
> obliviously ensconced some rarified ivory tower, and find
> ourselves compelled to support ourselves in any way we can.
> I personally feel I learned far more about Korea and Korean
> culture and society teaching ESL students at Hanyang and Oedae
> during my first year here than I would have in a Korean language
> course back home in the States. My daily in-depth discussions
> with them were a crash course in many of the major issues of the
> day, and a fascinating window into this society. After that
> experience, I found myself keen to devote more of my time and
> energy to the study of Korean culture, including the Korean
> language. What's wrong if other Westerners choose to follow a
> similar path?
> As for tithing or garnishing wages from the salaries of native
> EFL instructors here on the Peninsula, what a ridiculous and
> myopic idea. As a professional critic who has published 5 books
> about Korea but can't even get emails or phone calls returned
> from the Korea Foundation due to their elitist disdain for non-
> academic critics and other writers, I'm sure they'll do quite
> fine without living off the labor of individuals such as myself
> and other native ESL instructors here.
> Indeed, I'm sure they would find such an indignity quite beneath them.
> A link to the article mentioned above:
> Scott Bug, Insadong
> --- On Sat, 9/19/09, Ross King <jrpking at interchange.ubc.ca> wrote:
> > From: Ross King <jrpking at interchange.ubc.ca>
> > Subject: Re: [KS] EPIK
> > To: "Korean Studies Discussion List"
> <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>, "Korean Studies Discussion List"
> <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>> Date: Saturday, September 19,
> 2009, 4:15 AM
> > English is a powerful and expensive
> > commodity in Korea, and Korea is in the process of selling
> > its collective soul to/for English.
> > If I had a nickel for every student in the Korean language
> > programs I have overseen who has come to me and said "I'm
> > off to Korea to learn Korean, and plan to support myself
> > teaching English," only to come back 1, 2 or 5 years later
> > with little or no progress in their Korean, I could retire.
> > ESL is a seductive mistress for Anglophones (heck, even for
> > non-Anglophones).
> > As a matter of policy, I decline to write letters of
> > reference for Korean Studies and Korean language students
> > seeking employment in the ESL industry in Korea, and also
> > decline to return calls or emails from the many ESL
> > recruiters who routinely contact me asking for victims for
> > their schools and programs.
> > The ROK should introduce an ESL tithing system -- some sort
> > of tax on profits made via the ESL trade --with proceeds
> > going to the Korea Foundation or some such organization that
> > funds the pathetically few and woefully underfunded programs
> > trying to go the other way down what should be a two-street,
> > and thereby recoup at least some of the opportunity cost
> > represented by the billions of Korean dollars poured down
> > the ESL drain.
> > A pipe dream, I know...
> > RK
> > > Date: Wed Sep 16 06:18:18 PDT 2009
> > > From: "David Scofield" <D.Scofield at sheffield.ac.uk>
> > > Subject: [KS] EPIK
> > > To: "Korean Studies Discussion List"
> <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>> >
> > > As with any English teaching position in Korea, EPIK
> > is not without its
> > > pitfalls.
> > >
> > > >From the US Embassy, Seoul website:
> > >
> > > EPIK
> > > "These fairly new, Korea-wide, government-sponsored
> > programs place native
> > > English speakers in every school district in Korea and
> > present a unique
> > > opportunity for the adventurous to live away from
> > popular tourist centers.
> > > While recruiting and training appear to be performed
> > quite professionally,
> > > teachers living and working experiences vary
> > considerably. Some are welcomed
> > > with open arms and treated extremely well.
> > Others, arriving in areas where the
> > > program has been forced upon reluctant, under-funded
> > schools, are greeted less
> > > warmly and face significant challenges winning over
> > ambivalent or
> > > antagonistic Korean counterparts. Housing,
> > benefits, reliability of pay, and
> > > access to ombudsmen are steadily improving, but still
> > have a long way to go."
> > >
> > > http://seoul.usembassy.gov/t_types.html
> > >
> > > Two major issues in the EPIK program that seem to get
> > flagged up most frequently
> > > relate to class sizes and contact hours.
> > >
> > > 1) class size - teaching in the Korean public system
> > often means teaching to a
> > > regular sized Korean class - potentially 30-40+
> > students per "English
> > > conversation" class, many with widely varying degrees
> > of English competency.
> > >
> > > The program indicates that teaching is conducted with
> > the aid of a Korean
> > > teacher, but this is not always as straight forward as
> > it sounds. In many
> > > schools the resident Korean English teacher may not
> > speak English.
> > >
> > > 2) contact hours: instructors are required to teach 22
> > hours; however, it is
> > > important to note that this refers to in class
> > instruction time and does not
> > > include class prep (which can be formidable in classes
> > with 30+ students).
> > >
> > > As well, the contract should be read extremely
> > carefully as overtime, for
> > > example, may be required and not necessarily
> > voluntary. As well, you can be
> > > asked to work at any location and this may include
> > being 'farmed out' to a
> > > private institute for evening work. The 'market value'
> > of foreign native
> > > English instructor is far greater than 20,000/hour
> > ($16.40/hour) O/T pay
> > > offered creating an arbitrage opportunity for school
> > principals to broker the
> > > foreign instructor to local private institutes. This
> > is not necessarily a
> > > regular occurence, but I did encounter EPIK
> > instructors during my years in
> > > Korea who spoke of this.
> > >
> > > As well, while the work week is set as Monday to
> > Friday, the contract also
> > > states that if the total teaching hours are below 22,
> > you may be required to
> > > work beyond the scope of a normal work week (incl.
> > Saturday/Sunday) -
> > > remuneration for "non-instructional" overtime is set
> > at the equivalent of
> > > $4.95/hour (excluding tax).
> > >
> > > The contract also stipulates that "training and
> > orientation" are unpaid, but it
> > > further indicates that training may not be limited to
> > the initial
> > > orientation...
> > >
> > > There is similar built in ambiguity concerning the
> > housing provided. This, the
> > > contract indicates, will be "as deemed sufficient" by
> > the employer, with
> > > furnishing limited to "bed, table, closet, range,
> > fridge, washer, and tv."
> > > Further, "the employee shall not request or demand any
> > other appliances or
> > > furniture..." The employee is also responsible for all
> > utility and maintenance
> > > fees and any other applicable taxes incurred during
> > the residency.
> > >
> > > Korea can be a wonderful place to teach, but the
> > English teaching market is not
> > > for the faint of heart. Any prospective
> > teacher/instructor should do as much
> > > background checking on schools/programs as possible
> > before departing, including
> > > reviewing the sometimes jaundiced views of the
> > resident ex-pat blogging
> > > community.
> > >
> > >
> > --
> > Ross King
> > Professor of Korean and Head,
> > Department of Asian Studies,
> > University of British Columbia,
> > and
> > Dean, Korean Language Village,
> > Concordia Language Villages
> > Mailing address:
> > Ross King, Department of Asian Studies, UBC
> > Asian Centre, 1871 West Mall
> > Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2
> > CANADA
> > vox: 604-822-2835
> > fax: 604-822-8937
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