Ah – it's the "all foreigners are druggies, homos, convicts, AIDS carriers, and sex offenders" argument.
Let me add a couple: we also all have big penises, talk loud, have no family values, sleep with anything that moves, smell bad, lack the dexterity that comes from using chopsticks, and are liars.
This is from the Cyjenglish Language Institute, where they list the reasons they don't hire foreigners. The fact that they don't hire foreigners is not something I actually care about, as there might be legitimate reasons for not doing so, such as the market rate being too high, or the fact that I'd actually prefer to see Korean education relying less upon the Korean belief in "native speaker magic" and more on the good teaching that could be done by non-native, Korean teachers of English.
But the reasons given are truly flabbergasting, and pander to the lowest possible stereotypes as effective marketing. Funny thing is, it probably works.
The reasons Native Speakers are not hired:
- Most are only short-term visitors and, therefore, lack a sense of responsibility and duty.
- They have no concept of teaching and, therefore, have absolutely no sense of duty or professionalism.
- They are untrained in education.
- They are absolutely not high-quality personnel (most graduate from no-name technical schools and 2-year colleges.
- It is impossible to check what kinds of people they are or what their characters are (ex. drug user, homosexual, convict, AIDS patient, sex offender).
- They only just barely teach their classes and do not invest any time in managing students.
- They have no burning passion for the students.
- They do not agonize at all over improving the student’s skills.
- Legitimate native speakers are rare.
- It is impossible for parents to easily consult with them anytime they want.
* I want to specify that the above applies to only some foreigners.
(Here's the original post that brought this subject to light, as well as source for the translation, which I checked and seems well-translated).
Let's try a variation on the "thought experiement" and try an "empathy experiment." Let's put together a list of things that could be and are sometimes true of a group of people and callously make a list and imply that it applies to all people in that group, but with a quick disclaimer at the bottom that it actually doesn't. Then, see how it feels afterwards. This list is made up of incidents that I or other Fulbright ETA teachers have personally witnessed in the Korean schools, or were well-documented in Korean newspapers as scandals about which many Korean nationals themselves became angry.
BEGIN EMPATHY EXPERIMENT
The reasons Koreans make bad teachers:
- They have no sense of morality, since they take cash bribes and inappropriate presents from parents.
- They have no concept of teaching, since they merely teach rote memorization and often do very little original teaching during class.
- They often drink during school hours (especially lunch) and frequently sleep at their desks.
- They often engage in inappropriate sexual relations with minors, especially male teachers drinking with female students in hotel rooms on school trips.
- They serially rape their students and even when caught are merely given administrative leave.
- Male college professors are known to exchange higher grades for sexual favors.
- Male college professors actively and publicly sexually harass their female students.
- Korean teachers care more about appearing to always have the right answer than exploring a question deeply, to the point that challenges their own knowledge set.
- Korean teachers regularly take money to changes class rankings such that certain students will come out on top.
- Korean teachers are habitually embarrassed to speak English in class, such that their students are embarrassed to speak as well, despite having developed a strong grammar and vocabulary base.
- Korean teachers (male) regularly travel to Thailand and the Phillipines to have sex with underaged girls and are hidden carriers of all kinds of diseases, including HIV and Hepatitis C, which the Korean Center for Disease Control has said is a dangerous hidden social problem, something far worse than that posed by Westerners, who actually tend to use condoms.
* I want to specify that the above applies to only some Koreans.
END EMPATHY EXPERIMENT
Does that little disclaimer do anything? Doesn't it just serve to cover one's ass by saying "I'm not meaning to call you a motherfucking punk-ass shit-loving cocksucker or anything – really, I'm not – but if I were, I'd have to say that I sometimes feel that way about you. But you're only a pissant piece of putrid peckerwood sometimes. I really don't mean to insult you or anything."
Let me address the "concerns" of these mental midgets running their little institute at Cyjenglish, one by one – even though they don't deserve the mental energy that I am expending on them:
Points 1, 3, and 10 are somewhat valid.
- Foreigners are often transitional, but that doesn't mean that this should necessarily be a problem. The real problem is that most places that foreigners end up teaching lack a viable curriculum. So the problem of new people constantly coming in, being forced to reinvent the wheel, and having little sense of teaching to specific levels is not the fault of the teachers – why don't some of these hagwons, which have been in operation for years, have curriculums? The same is true for foreign language high schools that lack a curriculum or alternatively, change it every year.
- Many foreigners lack formal education in training, but are highly capable and are some of the best teachers around. I'm going to raise some hackles here in making this point, but it's Korean-style management that sinks the ship, not the teachers. Some of the absolute best teachers in Korea come from the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) program, which takes the cream-of-the-crop academic achievers and leaders and places them in schools in small cities outside of Seoul. They are given language and cultural training, and ongoing support throughout the year. On the contrary, the Korean government's attempt to copy the program – the English Teaching Program in Korea (EPIK) – was another case of Korean administrators trying to exploit and overwork teachers who are actually more "qualified" than the ETA's (EPIK generally requires at least an ESL certificate and preferably a master's degree). Yet, ETA's have absolutely the best track record in Korea, and they get more applicants through word-of-mouth because they are treated trained, treated well, and given respect. The EPIK is an ongoing failure, not because of the foreign personnel, but because of attitudes just like Cjenglish's that make them feel insulted, bitter, and apt to leave their contracts early, stop caring about their teaching, and develop a negative attitude about Korea in general. Good job, Cyjenglish – your attitude is that of a typical Korean hagwon.
- As for the language barrier point – yeah, it's a legitimate problem. If we could communicate better with parents, there could be some advantages. But some advantages of not interacting with parents was 1) not having them place ridiculous and selfish false expectations on me that other Korean teachers get burdened with, and 2) I've never been offered a bribe, since I am insulated from contact with parents. Although some Koreans would think that to be a disadvantage, I like the fact that I have maintained my moral integrity to the present day.
Points 4 and 9 are just factually untrue and really reaching deep into the bag of anti-foreigner baiting.
- Most Western foreigners I meet are graduates of legitimate, accredited 4-year colleges, just as they claim. Yes, there have been a few cases of foreigners faking their degrees (although Koreans are the #1 buyers of online fake degrees in the world, but that's irrelevant right?) but everyone I know in Korea is a college graduate. And who's really the stupid one here? Some weird applicant who says they graduated with a 4.0 from "Yardale" or the school who never checks degrees or confirms parts of an applicant's resume? "Oh, their degree was fake. I was deceived!" Yeah, well, you're stupid for not having checked.
- "Legitimate native speakers are rare? Business at the hagwon must be going well, Cykenglish, because that's some good-ass dope you're smoking. Even the idiots who have fake degrees are usually native speakers. Or are you one of those hagwons where you have no one on staff who can tell if a given applicant is a Korean national trying to pass as Korean American so you just make a policy of hiring no Korean Americans? Point #9 hints at something like that going on. If you can't tell the difference between a German guy who speaks English well but passes himself off as a native speaker and a real native speaker – or the 1.5 Korean national who went to high school in the States and can talk a good casual conversation but can't write his way out of a paper bag – well, that's your problem, isn't it? " Legitimate native speakers are rare." Korea is awash with renegade native speakers, or didn't you hear? And you can't seem to find any. Hmmmmmmmm....
Point 5 is just getting down into the dirtiest of Korea's racist, basest assumptions about outsiders.
- Here we go. Yes, many Americans "use drugs." But America doesn't have Korea's paranoid culture about "마약" and generally use marijuana, something considered by many doctors to be not nearly as harmful as cigarettes, and actually available by prescription in many American states. Even President Clinton admitted using it. As for the others, there are some problems with drugs and society in the US, but generally they do not appear as problems in the workplace. And in Korea, contrary to Koreans's stereotypes about foreigners, most foreigners choose to stay away from drugs here because we are more targeted by the Korean police, and because it carried a higher penalty here. In short, drugs have no effect on our jobs in Korea, mostly because most foreigners don't do them. And just last month I was offered some marijuana by a Korean at a street food stand, because he assumed I wanted it. I would bet that there are more farmers and ajummas growing and smoking marijuana in the countryside than any foreigners who use it.
- Contrary to Korean heterosexist beliefs, homosexuality isn't a crime, and it should have nothing to do with one's ability to work. Dong Bang Shin Gi is most likely gay, but what does that have to do with being good singers? A and B are unrelated, they are non-sequitor. There are many gay teachers – good, respected teachers – working in Korean schools and hagwons. In fact, they say Korea is a great place for a gay man, because there are so many gay men here who are not "out of the closet." They would never come out in Korea, because they would be instantly ostracized and discriminated against, and they are no more likely to "touch" or "harmfully influence" young students than any "straight" male Korean teachers who engage in drinking, dating, and having sex with their students. Haven't you heard of "wonjo kyojae?" Which is a worse problem – that, or having a gay teacher? In general, no matter what the sexual orientation, a professional teacher leaves sex out of the classroom. Perhaps some of your Korean male teachers could learn more of that, or perhaps you watch too much "어린이 신부?" At least the west hasn't institutionalized a sexual fetishization of underage girls in school uniforms – ahem.
- By the way, anyone with AIDS is obviously sick. You can confirm that easily. Someone who is HIV+ leads a normal life and can work without any problems. There is no risk of infection unless a student in class either has unprotected sex with a teacher, or accidentally falls on some needles and the equipment necessary to give a blood transfusion during class – both of which are unlikely. And the effort to link "AIDS" and being gay is so 1980's. HIV infection and risk is clearly much more of a problem for heterosexuals these days.
- Sex offenders? Please. Look in your own backyard. The number of documented cases of sex scandals and crimes committed by teachers in Korea makes a place such as the United States look like Disneyland. a heaven-on-earth for kids. Foreign sex offenders in Korean education isn't even a blip on the radar.
As for points 2, 6, 7, and 8 – I'll just address those teaching-related issues at the same time. All those problems tend to stem from good, eager young teachers who come to Korea only to find that their school is completely unprofessional, changes their teaching hours and contract conditions nearly every week, is often rude and abusive to its staff and especially foreign teachers, are often run by either totally unqualified and uneduated commercial hagwon owners, or alternatively, underqualified school administrators with big egos who advanced because a) they are men, and b) they paid the right bribes and drank with the right people.
In an environment like that, it's easy to get depressed, angry, and begin to hate your school, and by extension, hating Korea. Many foreigners then enter a state of just wanting to collect their paycheck, have fun while they're here, and leave as quickly as possible.
Hey, I know a lot of disgruntled Koreans who hate their jobs – how do you think foreigners, who often feel treated as walking dictionaries – feel? Is it any surprise that if a hagwon or school lacks a real curriculum, lacks professionalism, and is often more concerned about collecting fees than properly setting up classes, that foreigners start taking their jobs less seriously?
It's because of attitudes exactly like those advertised by Cyjenglish that some foreigners start getting negative about not just their jobs, but about this country.
Cyjenglish – are you really doing anything to help students or provide the best services? Or are you just using anti-foreigner sentiment as a marketing tool?
Come on – be realistic – what's the answer?
Oh, and we foreigners aren't qualified?
As a Ph.D. candidate at UC Berkeley, I worked as a TA for 9 semesters and as a researcher for 2 before coming to Korea to work on my final dissertation. Combined with my having come from one of the top high schools in the USA (Phillips Andover Academy), an Ivy League education (Brown University with a double major in History and American Civilization), and being a Ph.D. candidate from one of the top graduate schools in America (UC Berkeley) – I can confidently say that I am one of the most highly qualified and experienced foreigners working in Korea.
I have received two separate Fulbright grants – one as an ETA and one as a full grantee – and have been active in the Korean academic community, having presented at several academic conferences, including ones at Yonsei and Harvard Universities, as well as one given while a Fulbright. I presently work as an editor for an academic journal at UNESCO, have taught several non-English (i.e. history or other humanities courses) university classes in Korea, and have other extensive qualifications that can be read in my curriculum vitae. I have also learned Korean to a high level of proficiency.
I've been inviting a lot of people and institutions these days to kiss my sweet, black ass – and Cyjenglish has just been added to the list!
And just for the sake of speaking in terms of the Korean way of sizing up "qualififications" – fellow foreigners who attended the many very fine institutions of higher learning across the globe close your ears for a minute, this is for the sake of the Cyjenglish publicists – the listing of teachers there isn't exactly top-notch, but it's really funny how you rely on a swatch of people who nearly ALL attended university outside Korea.
What you're really saying is "we don't hire non-Koreans but we do rely on non-Korean academic qualifications". And why are 90% of their teachers female? They've got some interesting hiring requirements over there.
Is this for real? Look at their list of teachers. I have nothing bad to say about them individually, except for the fact that they all tacitly support a racist organization that they should be ashamed to be part of, but for a school that doesn't want to hire foreigners, you sure have a lot of people with foreign degrees. Perhaps this would be a better sign:
And it's not just school names that make qualifications to be a good teacher – it's who you hire, how eager they are to do a good job, as well as the support a teacher is given to do their job properly.
If you treat foreigners like walking dictionaries and interchangeable factory labor, then that's exactly what you're gonna get.
If you treat foreigners like motivated young people who are expected to use their brains and give the freedom to do so, you will get some amazing young people. Too bad places like Cyjenglish still hasn't figured that out yet.
Don't worry, Cyjenglish. No foreigner – qualified or not – would ever work in your racist hagwon, anyway.
Why don't you give Cyjenglish a call to express how you feel about their views of foreigners? The number's publicly listed on their site:
I love racist people being ig'nant in public. Gives me so much to write about.