What's been anecdotally fact amongst people in the business has now been backed up with some real research and statistics about what is one of the dirtiest little open secrets in the foreign language high school industry.
Parents, of course, still don't want to listen to anyone who might KNOW -- say, like the teachers who not only teach their students and have actually been IN the system they're about to send their kids to -- but now, maybe they'll finally listen now:
Forty-four percent of Korean students at top American universities give up their studies halfway through.
This data is contained in Samuel S. Kim's doctoral dissertation ``First and Second Generation Conflict in Education of the Asian American Community'' delivered at Columbia University Friday.
The drop out rate is much higher than 34 percent of American, 25 percent of Chinese and 21 percent of Indian students.
The results come from tracking 1,400 Korean students registered at 14 top American universities - Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Columbia, Stanford, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, Amherst College, Duke, Georgetown, Brown, Dartmouth, Pennsylvania and Princeton - between 1985 and 2007.
After having worked at Daewon, Yongin, and now Ewha Foreign Language High Schools, I've repeated this warning until I was quite literally blue in the face. The problem is that Korean kids are quite good at the standardized testing that gets them IN to American colleges, but what the schools cranking them out don't do is prepare them to do all the work AFTER they get in the door. And that means no more multiple-choice, do your own research without plagiarizing, and the 8-10-page paper assigned today is due next week in class.
But it's not in the schools' interests to worry about kids after they get to the schools -- their bragging in the Korean newspapers is done and they're busy recruiting more kids. Parents are just worried about school names and getting in, too, and in their defense, don't know how poorly prepared their kids are. If they're LUCKY, they'll have a course that's not related to a test that will actually teach these kids how to properly think, reason, and open their mouths in class.
Now, those of us who are always on the defensive from parents and school staff have some ammunition on our side. And maybe this dissertation can help a few more Korean kids get a chance to sit in a class that actually does more than run through practice problems.