Tag Archives: ESL

Quick Boring Post About Editors

It goes without saying publishers need to invest on good editors.  They are almost as vital as the writers themselves. Being in Korea, I notice that editing English text seems to be more of a discretionary afterthought; that is if it’s even considered at all. It’s really a shame that a country that is so invested in learning English, people aren’t really concerned with being accurate in applying the English they paid good money to learn. It’s the reason why Koreans can sometimes be just as bad as a lot of Asian countries in misappropriating the English language (www.engrish.com/).

Editors are vital not only in ensuring grammatical accuracy but also in making sure that contents are appropriate, non-offensive, and sensical (a term which a good editor will catch as not being a “real word”). I’ve been studying Korean and using this book which was published in the country. I imagine it’s designed for foreigners who wish to learn the language in the hopes of interacting with Koreans and perhaps visiting the country. Instead, it gave me an insight into the writer’s xenophobia, lack of sensitivity and outdated grasp of reality.


Why would the writer want North Korea to go bankrupt? Doesn’t he/she realize that the country has millions of people, presumably former countrymen, starving? How about the rather casual use of cancer in a language training material? Classy! You also don’t catch cancer like the flu. Your body develops it. As for the bit about Salman Rushdie, I hoped that the book was written in 1989, but sadly, it was written long after Rushdie came out of hiding. Also, why would a news organization report that a writer, who is in fear of assassination, is still in hiding? Who is this news for? Terrorists?


This last bit turned me off the most.  The book was written by university professors… educators. And yet their jingoism reeks off the page. The Americans are not colonists in South Korea. They are partners. They have just as much to gain from being here as the South Koreans. How could such a sentence be of any help to the American wishing to learn Korean?

Korean publishers as well as anyone in Korean media using the English language, please hire editors. Hire editors and pay them well.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Naughty Nudes English Class


I was talking to someone who teaches English here in South Korea. She teaches adults; late twenties to early fifties. I’m amazed at how she describes these adult ESL classes, with some students being petulant and difficult, and teachers needing to “handle naughty students.”

Naughty? Petulant? How exactly do you “handle” an adult in class? I was really surprised because the behavior being described to me sounds more like something out of an elementary or middle school class, not from a room full of adults who by now I assume have developed a fair bit of empathy (not just for the other students in class but also for the instructor who’s just trying to get it through the hour). I have taught before. I taught children and adults alike and I found that the few times I taught a small class of adults, it was actually enjoyable. It’s never the stressful hell I hear from teachers.

But what cause this behavior among grown adults? In university, I’ve never witnessed a situation where someone in class was being difficult. I imagine if that was the case, other students would police the class because they are there to learn as well. I’ve taken Korean classes in the country before. While the room is filled with western students, if someone was being difficult, it wasn’t to the extent that it would case stress to the instructor. It would often be someone needing more assistance, not someone being disruptive. What I hear from adult ESL teachers is sometimes surprising (and in one case, a student abusing another student).

Is it the whole I’m-older-and-I-get-to-talk-down-to-whomever culture? Is it the feeling of privilege that comes from paying for someone to be in a room? (You’re here to entertain us.) Is it students acting out due to stress? Is it bad teaching?

ESL is big business in the country. And unfortunately, Native English teachers are sometimes given the role of babysitting the nation’s children instead of teaching them English. But who can blame young children? Sometimes the foreign face in the room is the first one they’ve ever seen in their life, and they don’t know how to act, much less treat them as authority figures or instructors. But how do you explain babysitting some adults?

Tagged , , , , , , , ,