Monday, January 19, 2009

My Newly-Obtained Prejudice

... started a couple months ago. I have been fair my whole life. And judging isn't something i do very well.

I am a teacher, not by title, but by choice. I have been teaching since my high school days. After moving from private school to a public school in the Philippines midway through high school, i found something i could do with all the information stuck on my head, because I don't just read school books, i read everything. And one thing about me is that i cannot forget easily. Once i read it, it's stuck. My teachers discovered it (in HS public school), honed it, and set me to work everyday. Everyday has a different subject, making me miss my own classes, in return, i give my own. I never told my parents because i never tell them anything. But i found it fun, so i just kept on doing it even if most students (from higher section than mine) thought of me as a teacher's pet, a braggart, or simply a nerd. I don't care because i don't see any point of doing so...

And my best subjects were English, Health Ed and Citizen Advancement Training (CAT) lectures.

So over the years, since CAT is not a subject outside school (unless considering military), i continued teaching (or tutoring) English. From Kindergarten kids to high school. Basically anyone who needed some extra help when it comes to school work. I'm there, and eventually, at age 19, i found a job. A job teaching English to Koreans full time. Don't get the wrong impression.. i went to college. Management Information System was my major, but i didn't finish it. Financial problems. One may ask why i didn't take up Education, and i can answer that: My dad told me not to. Teaching does not get good money for what it's really worth, and that there are too many teachers in the world, and they don't get good money for it. I may have passion for it, but i have to think of its career path before engaging through.
So i didn't.

Moving along....
The irony of that situation where my folks didn't want me to take up Education as a major, i found a teaching post in a then small school. It's the same place i met my student-turned-boyfriend-turned-boss/fiance-to-husband. There's a story behind it, but here's not the place.

Fast Forward to: I got married to my Korean husband.

There i was, after my first baby, teaching (again) exclusively to a University Laboratory, to Masteral students who cannot afford to take extra English classes because of the price, and because they don't have much time. The thing with that class is that they can afford to hire me, I'm Asian! therefore, my teaching rate is considerably lower, much MUCH lower than native speakers. It lasted a year.

While having my second baby, i was a private tutor, to my husband's Elementary school nephews. Two of them. I thought they were doing me a favor, keeping my hands full, and earning extra cash at the same time... until we (my family and I) were invited for dinner at their family restaurant. I saw where they established their "raw fish" resto. It was in a place, surrounded by English 학원s!!! Again, the issue: they cannot afford to pay (during those times) a "Native Speaker" or in a 학원 because their resto just started.

That's okay, i mean, the Native speakers had been around longer than me in my teaching career. But right now, as i am observing, and since i have a new gig, i have developed a new sense of resentment to these Native Speakers. You may ask, who are these Native Speakers?

Here in Korea? They're recognized as the ones with white skin, and those who came from, US, Canada, Australia, Britain, Africa, and so on.

I can do a live and let live. Why not... but right now, i am teaching again to a new set of students, and the main reason i am teaching them is the same thing: The parents of the kids cannot afford to send their kids to an English school with a native speaker. And since my rate is lower, and it's a good way of earning a bit, i took it. We do not have a particular book, and their abilities are different from each other, and their needs different from one another, so my lessons are personalized. Everyday, i try to find a material, a lesson, a new trick to make sure the kids are learning something. My main source is the Internet, then some books, then some resources my friends send me. Since the English language evolves, changes, and extinguish words and parts of its grammar on a yearly basis, learning it is a nonstop process.

And here's why i cannot just live and let live: the discrimination against my kind, without considering our abilities, and judging us through stereotype. We're not all factory workers, or farmer's wives, or fisherman's wives. I can overlook the fact that the rate for Native speakers are 10 times more than our rate. Their economy is always better, and that they needed the money more. But right now, it's just too much.
Comics & Cartoons:

* Native Speaker introduces the concept of comics and cartoons. 5 minutes.
* Native Speaker defines the difference between a comic and a cartoon. 5 minutes.
* Native Speaker performs Comic or Cartoon activity. 10 minutes.

See how twisted that is? And that is in a forum i joined a couple months back. They share good lesson plans, some interesting activities, although i NEVER used any of what was shared through. I mainly use my own compilations and own inventions. But what does this imply? That US, who can speak English, teach the language, cannot do the same exercise because as it stated: NATIVE SPEAKER, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH...?

I'm not yet done. Last year, the current Korean President released a statement that English teachers should only be Native Speakers, those who came from those countries i mentioned. I get that these Koreans wanted to learn good English, but how good can they HONESTLY say these Natives are? They're on Korean TV, making mistakes that are easy to overlook because their skin colors speak for themselves. I cannot see any qualified Asian teacher who, if they made the same mistake, won't get fired, or go unnoticed.

I read The Korea Herald, an English newspaper, and it has this section: The expat's corner... and it makes me wonder: How come the only contributors that i read about are mostly those labeled as "Native Speakers"? If i submit an article, or if another Asian submits an interesting article about Korea, or Korea living, or anything, will it pass through?

We shall see. My message for Koreans: We're better than you think. We have tricks up our sleeves on how to learn this language that you desperately need, without the complication of an accent.

My message for Native Speakers: You're not all that. You make mistakes worse than us. We're also not all that either, but we're trying to coexist together. Anyway, the market is big, and you don't have to discriminate us over and over again.

Oh, there's more. It's just getting really late, and i have an early day tomorrow.


Jempres said...

I share your sentiments...
have a nice day...

Cheryle said...

i absolutely agree with you.....i used to work for a hagwon(i actually thank them for hiring me for my skills) but when parents ask about my nationality my supervisor would always tell them i'm a filipino-american(because korean parents refuse to have non native-speakers as teachers of their kids)....i hate when the kids ask me personally i just tell them the truth I"M a FILIPINO.....they deserve to know the truth that filipinos can actually speak the english language well

Elliot said...

Perhaps I was just fortunate to not have been an object of stereotype when I was in Korea. Never was there a time a vile Kreature apparated before me. kkk. There were a number of parents, and even CEOs of small firms in Dunsan-dong who contacted me to teach their kids English. All of them were VERY generous. I'm grateful for their acceptance and acknowledgement that a Filipino could be on par with "native" English speakers in this arena.

I heard that Koreans are now opening its market to non-natives--whoever they are. I wish to apply for a teaching post, just for the sake of continuing my abridged Korean experience last 2007. Korea might not be anymore 'my' land of milk and honey, but I'd like to know and see more of it, warts and all.

my quite (strikethrough) inactive blog:

그럼 연락합시다. ^^

Brian said...

I always talk about "foreigners" or "foreign English teachers," and many times it means "Westerners" by default. I'd love to read more about Filipino experiences in the Korean English classroom.

Just a quick comment about the lesson plan you highlighted from The author---not me---used "native speaker" merely to contrast with the Korean teacher. As you might know they often want a NS paired with a Korean teacher during English class. (Of course many times the Korean teacher doesn't come). Anyway, so it's the NS's job to lead that discussion while it's the KT's job to explain and keep discipline. That's how the school boards want it, not necessarily the NS's choice. But, the author of the lesson plan is very well-informed regarding teaching in Korea, and he didn't mean a slight against you. He just wrote the plan to fit with the experience NS teachers have, that is having to share a classroom with a Korean teacher.

I hardly ever use the lesson plans from the site, either, simply because I find them too hard for my middle school students. But there are some good ones I use from time to time, so do check them out. ;)

reijene said...

hello, brian. nice of you to drop in.

it has nothing to do against JUST me. i'm not the only non-NS, you see. But i guess i'm the only one who reacted with it.

Brian said...

Hmm, well, if you or any other users have anything to add to the lessons, or any ideas to share, please feel free to write something on the site, or even send me an email. Though the site got set up simply as a way to keep in touch with the native speakers through the Jeollanam-do Office of Education incoming class of 2006, it's certainly grown a lot since then, and doesn't want to exclude anybody.

reijene said...

I'll smile and say, maybe i was hasty when i judged the site. so i will apologize. but my prejudice stays.

when it gets out of control i will start looking for a shrink to help. i usually dislike only one set of people: idiots. =)