Wednesday, February 11, 2009

South Korean English Education Madness -- 15 minute video that explains the general situation and problems

I just watched this fifteen minute video called,

Tongue Tied - South Korea

that is perhaps the best introduction, summary, and explanation of Korea's education system, and the general insanity about the need to learn English that is so prevalent here.

I can't embed the video (it's been disabled) so here is the link.

Some of the stuff addressed in the video:

1. English Villages and English immersion programs
2. Tongue surgery to 'improve' English pronunciation
3. Hagwon culture
4. General education system of Korea
5. National University Entrance Exam
6. Koreans going overseas to escape the system.
7. General social issues caused by the system.

I would like to see an investigative journalist look into the teacher training programs across the country, pre-service and in-service, and also examine the qualifications of those people who make Korean education policy. It's one piece of the puzzle that I haven't seen much info about (though I haven't done any research actively to find material either).

If you're thinking about coming to teach English in Korea, recently arrived in Korea, or have been here a while and want to get a pretty good understanding of the basic situation here this is one of the best sources of info I've come across on the Net.

When the Korean guy, a Dr. Lee, who's in charge of the university entrance exam says that education in Korea has become a 'social disease' you know that there are major problems here.

p.s. Wikipedia, as usual, has a pretty good entry on the Korean education system in general.


Diana said...

Lord. That tongue surgery video was disturbing.

Thanks for bringing this issue to light. I feel awful for the ridiculousness of WASTING an ENTIRE year of school (last year of high school) and many hours of middle and earlier high school on that test. Bullshit.

Jason said...


I already knew about the tongue surgery thing from online articles, and it's also mentioned in "What's so good about Korea, Maarten?" by Maarten Meijer.

As for the national university entrance test--yeah, a lot of students here see school as a prison sentence, and graduation day as being released . . . I felt the same way about school back in Canada, but damn if I don't think looking back now that it's nowhere near as bad as the kids have it here.