Survey Results – Part 9: NEST Community

NEST Community On Itself

The previous parts of this series can be found here: Part 1 – Dating & DownloadablesPart 2 – Lifestyle and PetsPart 3A – Teaching Resources (Hakwon vs Public School)Part 3B – Hakwon vs Public School Workplace SatisfactionPart 4 – Websites UsedPart 5 – Coworkers, Part 6: Korean Students Academic and Social Skills, Part 7: Korean Students Life Skills and Outlook & Part 8: Fixing ESL Workplace in Korea

Nabunu needs people who can help out (think blogging, etc), check out what we need here:

Raw data and summary data can be found in part 1 of this series.

Today we’ll be looking at how Native English Speaking Teachers (NESTs) view each other (re: themselves) and also how they view issues surrounding race in Korea.

NESTs in Korea

What NESTs think of each other in Korea

Question 36 was: “Based on your personal experience and that of your friends in Korea, which of the following best describes your general view of Native English Teachers in Korea? (you can choose more than one option)”.  The most popular answer was this one with 59% of people selecting it: “They’re just normal people doing their best in challenging circumstances“.  The other big response was about how NESTs saw themselves as a community being treated by the media in Korea with 52% saying “They’re frustrated by how they’re portrayed by the Korean media“.  Thems big numbers and hardly surprising given the obvious bias concerning the Korean media when reporting about NESTs in Korea.

In the graphic above the blue coloured results are also quite interesting given how low they are.  The concept that foreigners are trying to game the system doesn’t get much traction nor does the notion that they’re working too hard.

How hakwon NESTs and public school teachers see each other (and themselves).

The difference of opinion between hakwon and public school teachers was quite interesting.  Bear in mind our result from a previous post where 87% of public school teachers reported not having any Western co-workers.  So their opinion is either projection or guestimation for the most part.  From the above graphic it appears that public school teachers believe their system is broken more than hakwon teachers do.  Hakwon teachers are more likely to see their peers as not hard working and more interested in partying as public school teachers.  1/3 of public school teachers see themselves as lacking resources as opposed to 1/4 for hakwon teachers.

System Error

ESL Korea System FailIf you’re only here for hard data then what I have written next will be of little interest to you.  What comes next is just one man’s opinion – you’ve been warned.  In this section I’ll give my two cents on the popular answer: “They’re serious about doing a good job but the system is set-up to fail” which was chosen by 43% of respondents.  I think the  reflects a sentiment that most teachers everywhere have.

Most countries are using a schooling system that was created in an industrial age to cater to the needs of the time.  Our societies and economies have changed several times since then but our schools haven’t.  I don’t yet know what a better solution is but I think everyone believes the current system is broken but there’s too much inertia to change it at the policy level.  I think a grassroots change will be what ultimately happens.

Although for this survey I think this response is saying that the way the system has been setup has been short-sighted and culturally naive from the beginning when it comes to employing NESTs.  It’s a magic bullet ideology to believe that if the government just cuts a big enough check then suddenly everyone will learn English.

The problem with this is that:

1) if you want to throw money at the problem then you can’t be stingy with what you pay – ie you can’t have it both ways.  To go down this road you need to do it the way Arab countries do – pay enough so that you can require teachers have master’s degrees and 3 years ESL experience.

2) Money often isn’t enough anyway.  It’s childish, wishful thinking to think you can learn someone else’s language without venturing outside of your own personal, cultural or academic comfort zone (be that for Koreans learning English or the other way around).  This means you can’t have it both ways in the classroom either.  To learn a language you really are learning the culture and the mindset that comes with it.  You can’t ask to learn to define the world differently (linguistically) but say that you want to do it with your world view.

Authoritarian systems make good soldiers but not so good language learnersThe stubborn refusal to embrace interactive learning and instead insist on lecture style has been shown to be the worst possible way to learn anything, let alone a language.  The lecture style seems born of a top-down Confucian tradition of authoritarian teaching.  Just as east Asian culture finds it’s roots in Confucianist thought so too does the west find its roots in Aristotelian and Greek philosophical traditions.  This is how we ended up with our tradition of debates and the Socratic method that encourages student-driven learning.  It just so happens that a communicative approach is better for gaining practical language skills.  Authoritarian classrooms tend to produce good test takers, obedient citizens (usually) and little else.

The next post will look at racism in Korea.

Question of the day: Do the survey results above about NESTs match your impressions of them?
Photo Credit (fail sign): fireflythegreat via photopin cc
Photo Credit (soldier): Hildeborg via photopin cc

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