Friday, October 30, 2009

My multicultural society does not include foreign English teachers!

A reader linked to an article titled "SNUE Takes Lead in Quest for Multicultural Society."
With the growing number of interracial families in Korea, schools need more teachers who are well-trained in taking care of multicultural children, educationalists say. Changing the education environment for a multicultural society needs to start from elementary schools, they add.

Seoul National University of Education (SNUE), a higher education institute that specializes in fostering primary school teachers, has taken the lead in creating various programs to deal with the surge of mixed children into elementary schools.

Song Kwang-yong, president of the university, explained the school's "Triangle Partnership" program, which centers on setting up a successful multicultural education environment at primary schools.

"Interracial children are rapidly increasing and elementary schools are the first to be affected by this trend. Our university should be the first to change, and our school is the first to introduce multicultural education programs among Korean universities," Song said in an interview with The Korea Times at his office last Thursday.[...]

Under the programs, teachers receive orientation on how to take better care of children from interracial households, and bilingual teachers are being taught how to efficiently communicate with children from immigrants.[...]

According to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, the number of children from multicultural families in Korea has more than tripled over the past three years up to 18,778 last year from 6,121 in 2005.

Many of the children have difficulties adapting to schools while around 15 percent of them stop attending schools and instead opt to give up their studies. With this problematic situation, the ministry has allotted about 5.8 billion won ($4.6 million) to the project this year.
It's nice to see the president of what is considered to be Korea's best teacher's university planning for the future and preparing for the challenges that mixed race children will face. Mind you, it seems foreign children don't seem to get the consideration mixed-race Korean children do:
According to the Education, Science and Technology Ministry, 1,402 of 17,000 children of migrant workers attend school – 981 in elementary, 314 in middle, and 107 in high school. This means that most of the children are being left uneducated.
As the Korea Times continues,
Song also stressed that Korean teachers should replace native English-speaking teachers as soon as possible. "Currently, only 20.5 percent of native English speaking teachers (at schools) have teaching licenses (according to data from the Education Ministry, November 2008), so it is urgent for us to foster teachers who have excellent English proficiency," Song said.

"The native speakers are not qualified and are often involved in sexual harassment and drugs."
Before reacting to this, it's worth considering a few things. In September of last year, Song was also quoted in an article titled "The role of universities is important for regional development," saying that he was thankful for the help provided by native speaking teachers employed in Seoul schools but that Korea couldn’t rely only on native speaking teachers. He also said that it would be more efficient to invest in SNUE’s teacher training than in bringing in native speaking teachers. There's no mention of unqualified teachers and their sexual harassment and drug use.

Most importantly, it should be noted that the article was written by Kang Shin-who. I've written about him before, looking at how he repeatedly made incorrect assertions that managed to drive a wedge between E and F visa holders. I also mentioned these two cases:
It may be worth noting that Brian in Jeollanam-do has reported that statements attributed to Park Nahm-sheik in an article by Kang from April ["Some English speakers don't have much affection toward our children because they came here to earn money and they often cause problems''] were said to have been mistranslated or taken out of context, according to people close to Park. I wasn't surprised when I read Brian's post, as I had not had any luck finding his statements in Korean.

Another article by Kang from March this year has the supervisor of the Incheon education office, Koo Young-sun, on record saying that, "Many foreign teachers lack teaching methodology and some of them are not ethically qualified to treat children." A Yonhap article on the same topic (in Korean) has no mention of these controversial statements from the supervisor.
He also took a press release by ATEK about the election of their new president and turned it into a platform for Anti-English Spectrum. Another more creative look at his body of work is here.

I don't know if ATEK or anyone else feels like taking it up, but I think it would be worth checking with SNUE president Song's office to see if he actually said these things. If he did, he should be criticized for it, and if he didn't then Kang Shin-who should be made accountable for it.

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey, do you know Nora Park?

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't the public schools/employers of native English teachers ever stand up on their employees behalf? Don't they realize they look like idiots allowing lawmakers/university presidents to defame their employees?

Peter Kim said...

Matt,

If the suppressive educational system of Protectorate Korea under Ito's rule was justifiable, then what you trying to assert here does not sound persuasive at all. As for me, I am against both Ito and mistreatment of native English teachers in Korea.

Anonymous said...

@ anon2 - the question is why don't English teachers stand up for themselves. The next question is when is ATEK going to get its head out of its ass and do something real.

B_Wagner said...

I have sympathy for Park Nahm-sheik being misquoted and all, I've had it happen to me enough times.

But I have to say that letting it remain without correction when you know people were upset by it and a mere phone call would suffice makes it a ratification.

Olivia said...

Ben, have you ever seen a retraction in the Korea Times or Herald? I haven't.

B_Wagner said...
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matt said...

No, I don't know Nora.

Peter:
How about we stay on topic?
Please point out where I've written that I support changes to the education system under the protectorate. Did you even read the links to my old posts that Kushibo provided?

Ben:
It's good those mistakes were changed, to be sure, but I don't know if I've seen the Herald or Times (or any paper... but then I don't read them in hard copy) publicly acknowledge their mistakes.

B_Wagner said...

Matt - I did get a print correction on Tuesday, June 9, 2009 but it was from the JoongDaily. I just noticed I said KH where I should have said JoongAng Daily above. I'll re-post it.

Anyway it read:

"CORRECTIONS . . . The article 'Legal world at odds over HIV tests' on Page 1 of the June 6 edition incorrectly stated the positions of Professor Benjamin Wagner concerning the requirements for foreigners teaching English in Korea to be tested for HIV infection. Wagner, a law professor at Kyung Hee University School of Law, says that compulsory testing and deportation of any noncitizen for having the virus that causes AIDS is discriminatory, not just for those holding E-2 visas. He does not support expanding the testing to other English teachers with different visas."

B_Wagner said...

I've received a "correction" and an apology from the JoongAng Daily for when they reported that I was calling for more AIDS tests in the name of "equality" (gasp). The corrected version is here. And the JoongAng Daily was also good enough to fix an incorrect graph with bogus E-2 stats which you mentioned here and which should be here in a separate article here, but now looks to have disappeared…

But they haven't fixed a bogus quote saying "A Los Angeles police spokesman said that about 90 percent of the department’s 70-80 monthly arrests for prostitution involve Korean women." I've been after them for a while to fix that one. It's now shown up on wikipedia .

In the words of the LAPD the quote is "just wrong." Lieutenant Dennis Ballas in charge of LAPD Vice Division told me:

'The statistics listed in the article are false. We have 21 geographic division plus DSVD all working at some level complaints of prostitution. We would never concede to making only 80 arrests in a month (less than 4 per division). Likewise, we would never attribute 90% of prostitution to Koreans.

Where we see the most conspicuous prostitution activity are in divisions with street walking prostitutes (known "tracks"). These divisions produce the highest number of prostitution arrests. The girls, boys, men and women who engage in street prostitution often come to that scene after being runaways or throwaway youth. These "kids" may come to LA from other states, but are rarely foreign nationals.'

I've seen the KT and Kang Shin Who do some corrections when asked. However I am disappointed with this report of his saying that Rep. Choi introduced a Bill to make English teachers do more AIDS tests. The text of the Bill says nothing about it and Rep. Choi's office denies the Bill contemplates such tests. I'm still hoping he'll fix that. We'll see.

The current worst of the worst in media in my opinion is another Joong Ang Daily article
that shows the face and the name of a Chinese woman calling her a prostitution and saying she slept with hundreds of men and gave scores of them AIDS. The paper printed a second article
saying it was all a hoax cooked up by an angry ex-boyfriend but they never took down the first article.

Other newspapers reporting on the hoax took the opportunity to publish even more photos of the woman.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous # 3
Neither GEPIK, EPIK, SMOE, etc... has ever defended the employees they hire that I'm aware of against lies made about native speakers/E-2 visa holders in the media or by Korean lawmakers while some native speakers have done things.

Isn't it about time for the employers to do something, it would be the smart thing to do don't you think?

What do you propose ATEK do about a university president such as Song, Kwang-yong defaming native teachers?

Anonymous said...

@anon_above - for starters I suggest ATEK do as matt suggests in the post.

1. Call him up and politely ask if the quote is correct. If not, then immediately sue Kang Shin Who and Korea Times for economic and reputation damages in a class action.

2. If it is correct, then respectfully ask for clarification.

Mr. President, when you say NETs are "often involved in sexual harassment and drugs" are there any particular statistics you are citing or should we understand your statement as a visceral sense that foreigners tend to be up to no good?

3. If it is merely a visceral response, then respectfully Mr. President, wouldn't you consider making such a statement about foreigners living in Korea (without having data to back it up) as indicative of the failure of SNUE to be able to "Take the Lead in the Quest for a Multicultural Society"?

3. If statistics are available (and they are), then Mr. President, considering SNU's motto (veritas lux mea meaning the 'truth is my light') shouldn't we say in veritas that NETs are NOT "often involved in sexual harassment and drugs"?

4. If the President refuses to accept the "truth" of statistical evidence (which shows the statement to be false) then clearly SNU has lost its "light" and thus is lost in the dark in its "Quest for Multicultural Society."

Therefore, out of concern for their fellow educators, ATEK should organize an exquisitely polite event that involves NETs sporadically showing up (not in big groups) at the front of the building housing SNUE's President and depositing little lanterns that say: "veritas lux mea" on one side and "I don't use drugs or sexually harass" on the other.

5. When asked by the press what they are doing, ATEK should they are trying to help light SNUE's way since they are so clearly in the dark. Explain that as members of Korea's multicultural society that SNUE is questing for, we want you to find us.

Peter Kim said...
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Peter Kim said...

Matt,

How about we stay on topic? Please point out where I've written that I support changes to the education system under the protectorate. Did you even read the links to my old posts that Kushibo provided?

If you consider Ito’s protectorate rule as a better one than annexation and completely ignore the possibility of independence of Korea in your previous post, then why not just accept that current status of native English teachers in Korea relatively better than other possible worst mistreatments and ignore any ideal choices that can be made? Shouldn’t any issue relatively considered from your perspective?

Again, I would claim that both Ito’s rule and the current mistreatment to native English teachers are seriously wrong.

matt said...

Peter, anyone who compares the treatment of English teachers today to the treatment of Koreans under Ito's rule during the protectorate seriously needs a reality check. Take your comments about Ito to a post that's about Ito.

Peter Kim said...

Matt,

I am pointing out your limits of reasoning. We can put the situations in parallel, even though they are in the different time frames.

If it is no problem that colonial Japanese government ignored the chance of independence of Korea, then it should be also fine that Korean government ignores your complaints, shouldn’t it?

matt said...

So you're arguing Korea should be more like Imperial Japan and saying I have limited reasoning?

Peter Kim said...

Matt,

No way. I already pointed out that I am totally against both Ito’s protectorate rule and mistreatment on native English teachers in Korea. The president of SNUE was truly reckless and wrong in his statement. It is just absurd.

My point here is that if you think it was fine with Japanese colonial government ignoring chances of independence of Korea, then you lose or at least weaken your stance in asserting that Korean government should not ignore your complaints.

King Baeksu said...

"The native speakers are not qualified and are often involved in sexual harassment and drugs."

I find the expression "sexual harassment" highly inappropriate and inflammatory in this context. I can imagine that any number of Korean ethnic nationalists might object to "consensual casual sex" between Korean women and Western ESL teachers, which is probably what Song Kwang-yong really means, but this is a huge categorical distinction and difference. One might object morally to "consensual casual sex" between Korean women and Western males here, but South Korea is in theory now a democracy with certain individual rights that are supposedly protected and guaranteed, including the right of ROK female citizens to do whatever they want with their own bodies and free will. In other words, if certain Korean women want to consort with or date Western males in Korea, that's fully within their rights, and there's certainly nothing illegal about it, unlike "sexual harassment," which is not a moralistic term but rather a legal one. Of course, "sexual harassment" is both illegal and highly objectionable to most people, but this term cannot simply be substituted for "consensual casual sex" in this context, especially if the data and statistics do not warrant use of such language.

I'd like to know the precise Korean term that Song Kwang-yong used for "sexual harassment" here. If he used similar language in Korean, then his substitution of a legal term for a moral objection is irresponsible and potentially libelous. If the problem lies with reporter Kang Shin-who's biased and distorted translation, then it is he who is being irresponsible and defamatory, and proper complaints should be filed in mass to the editors of the Korea Times.

I believe the onus is on Kang Shin-who to provide the original Korean of the sentence in question, so that it can be determined if the problem lies in his reporting or not. Those seeking clarification should call the Korea Times directly, since emails are too easily and too often ignored here in Korea in my experience:

Political Desk : 02-724-2343
City Desk : 02-724-2346
Editorial Room : 02-724-2859

Once it has been clarified what Korean term was actually used by Song Kwang-yong, if it is he who is guilty of being inflammatory towards native ESL teachers in Korea, then formal complaints should in turn be made directly to him, and ideally en masse.

Whoever first contacts reporter Kang Shin-who, be sure to report here (and on other sites highly trafficked by native ESL teachers in Korea) on the Korean language originally used by Song Kwang-yong, so that the word can get out quickly to the larger native ESL teacher community here.

Now is the time for action, is it not?

B_Wagner said...

King Baeksu - good points all the way around. I'll be talking with SNUE Monday (11/02/09).

I publish academically on this issue, so my approach is merely a courtesy fact checking measure. Since the KT is often inaccurate and, as you say, the quote is highly inflammatory - I want to double check with Pres. Song to see if he is ok to be quoted as it now stands in the KT (in English). This will allow discussion of the offensive Korean terms used (if any) to emerge in the clarification process.

I think we should give Pres. Song the benefit of the doubt on this. If it turns out he didn't make the comment, then the burden is on the KT and the reporter (as King Baeksu points out) to explain the presence of the quote.

The KT is clearly aware what the terms meant and how offensive and damaging they are. In the end, a lawsuit or other action may be the best course.

Anonymous said...

Ben,
I'd like to where this information about the frequency of drug use/sexual harassment by native speakers originated? I certainly never completed a survey asking me whether and/or how often I do drugs or sexually harass girls, boys, men, and/or women.

Has anyone else? I know that I answered "NO" when asked whether I did drugs on the application I completed. I don't remember a question about prior sexual harrasement on any application I've completed.

Don't forget all 3 parts of Song's statement, even the part about not being qualified is defamatory. I am qualified according to Immigration law. The man is wrong on all counts = defamation.

Peter Kim said...
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Peter Kim said...
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Peter Kim said...
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Peter Kim said...
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Peter Kim said...

Matt,

In other words, what do you try to achieve from the country you think a sovereignty and independence could be denied?

By the way, is there any organization that could represent native English teachers (NETs) in Korea? I would suggest organizing an association to represent NETs, when you negotiate with Korean government about policies on them. And head of the organization may demand to meet with the president of SNUE or other government officers of education department to talk about the issues related to NETs.

Politics in Korea has been played that way. And that’s how many Korean employees express their minds to employers. It may be easier to draw media attention too. If you guys keep complaining at internet and never make any organized act about these issues, I doubt the Korean government would ever listen to you.

Also, I would suggest an organized effort to improve the image of NETs in Korea. For example, you may try to do some volunteer works in an organized way that Korean media can cover them.

B_Wagner said...

Spoke with President Song's office by phone this morning.

President Song has agreed to reply to questions by email. Email went out this afternoon.

Again, considering the KT's track record I think SNUE and its President deserve the benefit of the doubt. I would ask for peoples patience on this. There will be a response, but it may take a little time.

King Baeksu said...

Ben, in my wide experience with print reporters in Korea (over ten years' worth and dozens of encounters) the great majority do not use voice-recording devices when doing interviews, but rather use reporter's notepads or type away into their laptops as their subject speaks.

This is bound to lead to errors and discrepancies between what is said and what is reported. My own feeling is that if a reporter is simply going to paraphrase what someone has said (which is often the general outcome when a voice-recording device is not used), then quotation marks should not be used at all.

That being said, one wonders how hard it is to buy a cheap MP3 player with a recording function for W20 or W30,000. I suspect that many reporters here simply think it looks "cool" and "classically retro" to use a reporter's notepad instead.

B_Wagner said...

President Song was good enough to make a personal call in reply to the email.

He was misquoted by the KT. President Song explained that while problems with foreign teachers as covered in the press were mentioned in passing, he did not say "The native speakers are not qualified and are often involved in sexual harassment and drugs."

President Song said the focus of the discussion was the need for more qualified teachers because his school is responsible for training them.

King Baeksu said...

Good work, Ben. I suggest you contact Brian (in Jeollanam-do) and ask him to make a post about this, along with Matt and perhaps Robert Koehler, though I wonder how much Robert cares about this issue.

I also suggest people contact the Korea Times directly and complain about this. Since Ben Wagner is posting under his real name and is a reliable source, I'd say we can trust what he has reported here at face value.

Anonymous said...

Robert would probably run it "for entertainment value."

kushibo said...

Thank you to Ben Wagner for doing the legwork to resolving whether or not President Song was misquoted (as I suspected he was). And thank you to King Baeksu for pointing that out to me on the other blog.

lifer11 said...

King Baeksu said...
Ben, in my wide experience with print reporters in Korea (over ten years' worth and dozens of encounters) the great majority do not use voice-recording devices when doing interviews, but rather use reporter's notepads or type away into their laptops as their subject speaks.

This is bound to lead to errors and discrepancies between what is said and what is reported. My own feeling is that if a reporter is simply going to paraphrase what someone has said (which is often the general outcome when a voice-recording device is not used), then quotation marks should not be used at all.

Baeksu...I don't think this was a result of "error". This was obviously calculated in an attempt to back up a false assumption on the part of the KH reporter.

Peter Kim said...
If you guys keep complaining at internet and never make any organized act about these issues, I doubt the Korean government would ever listen to you,

I totally agree. This blog it's contents and those posting will be pointless ranting unless we come together in an organized protest. That is afterall the Korean way. Writing a letter or making a phone call will do no good. The influence of the media here over public sentiment is off the chart -As can be seen by the recent falsification and exaggeration of the US beef imports in relation to mad cow disease last year.

I have friends who are reporters for the KH and who also are lawyers who represent foreigner's interests. I would be willing to introduce them if you like.

On a side not has anyone noticed that the recent slndering of expats(specifically foreign English teachers) apprears on page 1 and 3 of the KH but the rebutle by the expat community is on page 18!? Whatsmore the rebutle takes weeks to be published and accompanies as statement bellow it saying "The opinions expressed here are the author's only and do not necessarily represent those of the Korean herald." By then it's too loate and Koreans have, for the most part, accepted the initial article as truth adding to the negative sentiment.

This reporter should be made an example of and a formal page 1 and 3 appology should be published!

lifer11 said...

Does anyone know if there has been a response to this compaint?

http://atek.or.kr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=218%3A2009-august-20-association-files-complaint-with-press-ethics-commission&catid=41%3Atop-headlines&Itemid=110

Bob said...

Thank you to Ben Wagner for doing the legwork to resolving whether or not President Song was misquoted (as I suspected he was). And thank you to King Baeksu for pointing that out to me on the other blog.

Thank you! And thank you! And thank you! And fuck the rest of you assholes that allow cheap pussy to corrode your senses of personal responsibility! You loveless jerks allow your teenaged love affairs for these Korean apparatchiks to influence your conscious minds. Sell outs, you will all rue the day you made a deal. Read it and weep, slaves.

kushibo said...

Bob, judging by the nature of your outbursts and tirades, I'm guessing that it's not any Koreans that are responsible for the ills that have been befalling you. It seems you are firmly in control of your own self-destruct button.