Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Is there a Bane to being Brown?

To me, teaching English has never been an option as one of my career paths. But the winds of change has carried me to that direction. I now set my eyes on becoming an English teacher to Korea. I search the web for job opportunities as my resume would allow me to competitively apply for a teaching post. Or so I thought...


"Native English speakers ONLY!", "No experience necessary.", "...finished two- or three-year course."


These are ubiquitous requirements in recruitment websites. It struck me as silly to construe skin color and linguistic ability to positively covariate with each other. I always thought that "what is accent if the brain is not present?". Teaching the language, after all, is more than the rules of grammar, idioms, and accent. It is imparting the necessary skills to understand humanity, to further educate oneself, and to empower others.

It has been obvious that in Korea, competence and skill are overshadowed by skin color. I am brown, yes. But that doesn't mean that I can't be on equal footing with 'white' teachers a.k.a. backpackers who are the only ones eligible to apply for an E2 visa. There is a glaring racism in this issuance policy, which was said shall be scrapped at the end of the year. I hope it would be the case. It's high time that Korea opens its education market to Asian English teachers not only because of economy, but also because of quality.

Koreans have been trying to learn English for decades, but still they are finding the language difficult to grasp. There should be some structural problems that make effective learning elusive. It could be that 영어 학원(language academy/institute) are hiring ineffective teachers as reflected by their list of "qualifications": No experience needed, O.K. if not boarded, white. Great. Those are really material.
NOT!

I'm bitter but not because I'm brown. I'm bitter because the country I consider my second home does something that is discriminatory (refer to WTO MFN agreement), illogical, and unabashedly racial.

I hope the wind of change blows again...but not towards me...but towards education policy makers in Korea.

7 comments:

TENTAY™ said...

We get to experience racial descrimination here in our work, like everyday? Their basis for superiority is skin color. wat da fak noh.

anyway, pinapasabi ng friend ko, ingit lang daw sila dahil di nila mabuka ng mabuti eyes nila. ahahahha..

screw them.

y\ said...

We all know that racism is hard to beat. Ganon talaga... People become divided because of our cultural, and yes, physical differences. It's a shame though, that we miss out on great things that diversity can offer because of this :(

betchay said...

I have mixed opinions on this. I'd like to see more filipinos teach english in korea. However, i'm also worried that they would be taken advantage of by hagwon owners. My friends and I discussed this last Saturday over lunch. I've met Filipino English teachers here and I'd say that as much as there are good English speakers, there are those who speak English horribly. I abhor hagwons in Korea as they almost always just think of what they can pocket. Korean mothers who don't know any better wouldn't know whether a teacher can speak English well or not. This is specially true in the province where you can find the most number of Filipinas hired as English teachers. I'd been approached before to teach English but I never said accepted any offer not because I don't think I'm capable but because teachers owe it to their students to be competent. I never had any training in teaching the language. That's the reason why I prefer to enrol in a very expensive TESOL course (3.5 million won). My comment is too long and I have more things to say. Anyway, most foreigners I know would prefer to learn Korean from a Korean.

betchay said...

^^ oops... can't edit my comment... while there are hagwons that would unabashedly post their preference for lighter skinned teachers, there are some that would employ brown pinays and black americans... proof are my friends (and non-friends) who are working in hagwons... the E2 visa is not even an obstacle, kwim?

like i said, i hope more filipinos will be employed here in the future, i just wish they wouldn't accept less money because that wouldn't be good... and hagwons need to be more discriminate in choosing their employees...

betchay said...

^^ i also don't agree with the qualifications set by hagwons... it's ridiculous that the government is even loosening the requirements for E2 visas... i think it should be that only qualified teachers should teach in korea, regardless of nationality (and color)... and you my friend, deserves to teach here more than the backpackers ;-)
i hope that by the time i have my own hagwon, you could work for me... don't worry, i'll be a fair wonjang ;-)

betchay said...

^^ ay i hope you won't take it the wrong way, re backpackers... i've been reading your posts and i admire how good you are with your command of the language... (i know my limitations when it comes to english and i sometimes feel insecure with people like you ㅋㅋㅋ)... i'm sure you are a very intelligent person with a nice attitude to boot... you remind me of a friend who wanted to work here in korea but i thought she should stay in the philippines because she's really good (and she's not the only one)... we are just so unlucky we're not blessed with good leaders

wendy said...

hi elliot, do you still want to come over to teach english to koreans? you're good and you know that, right? by choice, you could disregard this discrimination by choosing a career in a place that would give you peace of mind and the recognition that you deserve. my say is, why insist to be in korea to teach english? discrimination is everywhere and it is our individual choice to be affected by it or not. you know your self-worth and if you know that you don't deserve to be subjected to this discrimination, then choose not to be subjected to it, right? anyhow, goodluck! i hope your scholarship from korea will open you to opportunities you will be happy to be in... opportunities that will give you professional satisfaction that you deserve... have a good day!