"English Teachers Complaining About Hagwons, Media Portrayal"
The Korea Beat has recently translated a story that begins to explain a lot of the negative media attention to English teachers. Interestingly enough, the article (originally from the Chosun Weekly) used one of Korea Beat's stories and several comments to try and get the word out - in Korean. The more Koreans see foreigners as people trying to do a job and be treated fairly, the more credible we as a group look when one-off stories on 'unqualified' teachers run.
A couple highlights from the translated article:
The problem is that most media reports focus only on “trouble-causing
native speaker teachers”, portraying all teachers as being like those in the
articles. Every time major news media raise doubts about native speaker teachers
they rest on the same assertions from investigators and other Koreans. The
consumption of news made that way produces Koreans with a pre-conceived opinion
of most native speaker teachers. Because native speaker teachers are not capable
in Korean they cannot easily get in touch with the creators of such news, which
portrays them as enemies of the public. Their criticisms go unheard by the
authorities, and the cycle repeats. It is a real vicious circle.
While researching this article we were able to hear a great many stories.
One hagwon owner placed a teacher in his Korean fiance’s home, threatened that
“if you use your vacation I will fire you” and then fired the teacher in the
11th month of the contract (native speaker teachers normally sign one-year
contracts entitling them to severance pay after 1 year). Another hagwon told us
that it hired people who do not have non-E-2 visas, saying, “most of the native
speaker teachers in our hagwon got their visas illegally.” Other times a hagwon
approaches teachers with expired visas and offers them promises of work, but
then delays the necessary paperwork and when discovered to be employing teachers
illegally the hagwon employs trickery to restore its image. We learned of other
cases at a famous hagwon where teachers were fired, told that “no extra teachers
are needed right now”, despite having gone through orientation after signing an
Well done 최혜원 (email@example.com) and Korea Beat. Here's hoping more Koreans read this than some of the other drivel out there today.
© Chris Backe - 2009