Friday, September 28, 2012

Analyzing research on native-speaking English teachers in Korea

Sorry for the lack of posts of late. The grad school work load finally kicked in, and I've been up to my ears in papers, projects, presentations, volunteering (required for one of my classes), and articles. One of my assignments is to read and review several published, peer-reviewed articles on a topic of my choosing. As there were no such articles on my first choice (native speaking English teachers in rural Kyrgyzstan), I went with a topic for which there is indeed published literature: native speaking English teachers in South Korea. Unfortunately, the three articles that I've analyzed thus far are nothing short of abysmal. Normally I wouldn't waste your time with information on things I've read and then rated as crap, but given that a lot of my readers  either are or have been native speaking English teachers in South Korea, I figured some of you might be interested.

The first article (and the best of the bunch so far), Globalization and native English speakers in English Program in Korea (EPIK) by Mihyon Jeon proposed to examine the perceived legitimacy of the native-speaking English teachers hired by EPIK. Jeon sought to examine the views that both the native-speaking teachers held of their legitimacy as teachers in South Korea, as well as the views that their Korean counterparts held of them, by attending an EPIK conference (at which several native-speaking teachers presented), as well as by conducting one-on-one interviews with several teachers (Korean and native speakers) and EPIK coordinators. The following four conclusions were reached:

1. While the Korean government places emphasis on the importance of the native English speaking teachers hired by EPIK, Korean English teachers and students often do not view EPIK’s native speaking English teachers as important. 

2. Korean teachers often did not have either time or desire to work closely with the native speaking teachers.

3. Native speaking teachers did not feel that they had been fully integrated into the school curriculum, resulting in feelings of isolation and marginalization.

4. Native speaking teachers felt as though they were valued for their "entertainment value" (with several teachers describing themselves as "performing monkeys"), as opposed to their work as educators.

5. Classroom management problems presented a great difficulty to EPIK teachers, as students did not consider them to be real teachers, and therefore did not respond to them as such.

The sample size for this study met the minimum threshold for being considered generalizable in terms of the number of native English speaking EPIK employees; however, the number of Koreans sampled did not meet the criteria for generalizability.

The second, and certainly the most absurd of the three articles, was Global fatigue: Transnational markets, linguistic capital, and Korean-American male English teachers in South Korea by Songpae Cho. The purpose of this article was to examine the reasons why Korean-American males move to South Korea for the purpose of teaching English, to examine their perceptions of their value in South Korea, and to examine the views that South Koreans hold of them.

The "study" (if you can call it that) featured a series of interviews conducted by the author with his coworkers, an individual that he "met in the elevator" and another whom he described as "an Apgujeong matron" - hardly a representative sample by any stretch of the imagination. The results of this study were as follows:

1. Korean-American males come to South Korea "on a whim" often with no teaching experience. (I'd say the same can be said of most native-speaking English teachers in South Korea, although like this article, I have no actual research to back up my statement.)

2. Korean-American males remain in South Korea longer than their female counterparts due to their perceived desirability in the Korean patriarchal society. Cho basically says that Korean-American males are more valued sexually in Korea than in the US due to their elite status as American English speakers, and the fact that Korean males are at the top of the food chain in Korea (while they’re emasculated in American culture). 

3. Koreans are suspicious of Korean-American male English teachers, wondering if perhaps they did something wrong in the United States, leading them to seek work overseas. (As far as I can tell, the only person who expressed this view was the aforementioned "Apgujeong matron.")

4. Koreans think that Korean-Americans do not speak English as well as white Americans.

5. Korean-American males become anxious both about staying in Korea (due to the above two reasons) and about returning to the United States, due to “the fear of getting older and becoming less marketable in the U.S.” 

I think my favorite part of this article was its repeated use of the term "English prostitute." One of Cho's interviewees described himself as feeling rather like an "English prostitute" - and then Cho went on to use this analogy several more times in the paper, even though doing so was totally unnecessary. 

The third article, The novice, the native, and the nature of language teacher expertise by Ji-eun Shin and David Kellogg, was the only article to involve a statistical study. Unfortunately, out of the thousands of native and non-native English teachers on the Korean peninsula, the study focused on one native and three non-native English speaking teachers. If you need a minimum of one percent of the population (in this case the native English teacher and non-native English teacher populations) to achieve generalizability, what is even the point of conducting research that is so far below the generalizability threshold that it's not even funny? When you consider that a lot of work actually went into this pointless study, the mind boggles. 

The purpose of this article was to quantitatively analyze and compare the teaching talk of native English speaking teachers and non-native English speaking teachers, as well as to compare the amount of English spoken by students in classes taught by native and non-native English teachers. The one native speaking English teacher chosen for this study had neither studied education nor worked as a teacher prior to coming to Korea at the beginning of the study. In contrast, the three Korean English teachers chosen all had education degrees and two to five years teaching experience. One of the three Korean teachers was also Ji-eun Shin, one of the authors of this study.

Fourteen classes over a six month period were recorded, transcribed, and statistically analyzed to look for various things such as number of times each teacher spoke, complexity of their utterances, grammatical structure/correctness, and amount of English/Korean spoken by students in class. Well, in this one native speaking English teacher's class, Korean was spoken more, she spoke English less, and she had more grammatical errors than her Korean counterparts. The authors then attempt to generalize their results, because obviously this shows that Koreans are better English teachers than native speakers! Dude, really? Have you seen your sample size?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Looking for a Mochi of your own?

No, really. There's a female dog at Miami-Dade Animal Services (a high-kill shelter) in South Florida that looks so much like Mochi that it's heart breaking. (She must be about half his size though, since she only weighs 7lbs and he weighs 18lbs!) You don't need to be in Florida to adopt, and transport is available!

Peppy, approx 2 yrs old, 7lbs, female
Interested? Contact Miami-Dade Animal Services
7401 NW 74th St, Miami, FL
Phone: 305-884-1101

Friday, September 14, 2012

Downey Dog Park update #2

The dog park has re-opened. I'm not sure that this is public knowledge though, as we were there at 4pm on a Friday (typically a popular dog-park time), and Mochi and I were the only ones there (other than some rather brazen squirrels). There are, however, a few kinks in the system that still need to be worked out. For one thing, when you enter through the main Lake Downey Park entrance on Flowers Avenue, there are still two very large signs - one which says 'No Pets' and another which says that the entrance to the dog park is over on East Colonial. However, as I mentioned the other day, the entrance to the dog park has moved to inside the main Lake Downey Park... somebody just forgot to change out the signs. Note: you can also park in the original dog park parking lot, and walk to the corner of Colonial and Dean where there is a pedestrian entrance into the park if you don't want to drive all the way around to Flowers Ave.

The new entrance is to the north-west of the volleyball court.

Even parking as close as one can get to the dog park (over by the skate park area), one still has to walk one's dog quite a ways through the picnicking area of Lake Downey Park. I wonder if the relocation of the dog-park gate signals that soon the ban on pets in the other parts of the park will be lifted? As it is, there will definitely be doggies walking around the northern part of the picnicking area.

That's my car as seen from the new gate to the dog park. That's a long stretch of 'no pets allowed' park we're all going to be walking through!

Additionally, there is now a new 'small dog' section over on the west side of the park next to the skate park. Like the original small dog section, it can be entered directly through the new entrance - and unfortunately, like the original, it doesn't have a doggy water fountain. Oddly enough the original small dog section still exists; however, it can only be reached by walking your small dog through the entire length of the large dog section - so I'm guessing  it's not going to get much use.

The squirrels in the park today were behaving quite absurdly.
This one kept teasing Mochi.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

This makes me so very happy!

As an animal lover and rescuer, I see so much that causes me to lose more and more faith in humanity. Every time I see an abused, beaten, starved, injured, or simply unwanted animal dumped on the side of the road, or out in the middle of nowhere, or at a place like this, my belief that humanity is simply abysmal grows stronger. But every now and then something happens to remind me that we aren't all bad (I mean, apparently I'm human, so we can't all be terrible).

Remember Sammy, the little black puppy that I found on the side of the road back in July? Well, the vet had told me that they were probably going to be small dogs (Chihuahua type). I started corresponding with a woman who was interested in getting a second Chihuahua, and she decided she wanted Sammy. By the time we met up, Sammy was showing signs of being more Lab than Chihuahua. (I had started referring to her as a Chihuabrador.) I was terribly worried that the adoption would fall through on account of Sammy's size, but it didn't. And today I received the following email and photo from Sammy's wonderful adopted mom:


"Here is a picture of Sammy. She is 16lbs now. She is healthy and doing great. We love her so much. We have taught her how to sit, shake, give high five, and she's learning to lie down. Our other dog still doesn't like her very much, but Sammy loves her - especially Pepper's bed. She constantly makes us laugh. She has so much personality. Thank you again for saving this dog!!"

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Downey Dog Park update

Mochi *loves* going to the dog park, even if he's still awkward in his interactions with the other dogs. As soon as we pull into the parking lot, he starts jumping up and down and whining with excitement, and is always eager to leap out of the car and run over to the dog park's entrance. Even on days when he's the only dog there, he still has a great time racing about, chasing squirrels, and sniffing all the "messages" left behind by various other dogs.

Unfortunately, today the dog park was closed :( Poor Mochi didn't understand why he wasn't allowed to get out of the car, and was quite visibly unhappy. Why was the dog park closed? Well, they're moving the entrance to the park from the edge of the greater Lake Downey Park along East Colonial to the inside of Lake Downey Park itself. While I think this will make for a safer entrance to the dog park (I cringe every time when people show up without leashes, with their dogs running loose near busy East Colonial as they make their way to the fenced in park), I'm annoyed that the less than half a mile distance that I currently drive in order to get to the dog park will soon be changed to a distance of over a mile. It's still not all that far in the grand scheme of things, but with gas prices being what they are, every extra half mile counts. The new entrance will be open Friday, September 14th, and will be accessible via the main park entrance on Flowers Ave. Visitors to the dog park are asked to park over by the Downey skate park (physically located at the western edge of the dog park).

Since I'd brought Mochi out in the car, it seemed a shame to return home without actually taking him anywhere, so I drove over to the Little Econ Greenway (which I've mentioned before), as it's also right around the corner from where I live. Mochi enjoys walking along the Greenway as well, although not as much, as there are rarely other dogs there, and as he has to remain on his leash. I wish I'd had my camera with me this time! We saw a snowy egret, a great blue heron, a really interesting looking dragonfly, and - what really has me kicking myself for not bringing my camera - an anhinga emerged from being fully submerged in the river with a rather large fish in its mouth, which it then proceeded to eat. But, no camera. You'll have to make do with a couple of crappy cell phone pics of Mochi.

Mochi at the Little Econ Greenway, taken with my cell

(See update part 2 here.)

Monday, September 10, 2012

little boxes... smell like fried chicken


This place is located just around the corner from my house, meaning that any time I go outside there's a faint odor of fried chicken permeating the air. I have yet to actually eat at Maryland Fried Chicken, although I have eaten at KFC twice since my move to Orlando - which is about two times more than in the past several years combined. I'm wondering if there's a connection? I mean, I was just out walking Mochi around the neighborhood and thinking about how good some fried chicken would be right about now - and I know it's all Maryland's fault. 

The houses and townhouses in my neighborhood were all built in the 1980s. If they'd been built twenty years later they undoubtedly would be more McMansion in style; as it is they're all more reasonable in stature (if not in price, depending on when each was most recently purchased). Still, every time I take Mochi for a walk, I get Malvina Reynolds singing Little Boxes stuck in my head:

Little boxes, little boxes, little boxes made of ticky tacky...
and they all look just the same.

Although as my house in GA looks just like *its* neighbors (the 1920s version of ticky tacky housing), I suppose it's silly that my GA neighborhood doesn't inspire the song to pop into my head, and yet this one does.

On a rather different note, I drove over to Tampa a week ago today to visit my father and to eat some delicious slow-smoked ribs. In keeping with my plan of taking the back roads as often as possible, I took the back roads there and the interstate back. Unfortunately, the first leg of the trip (State Road 50, aka Colonial for the Orlando folks) is essentially nothing but strip mall from here to Groveland - which unfortunately is a straight shot of 40 boring miles in stop-and-go Orlando area traffic. There was only one thing I saw during that stretch, about 25 minutes west of my home: a kickass sign from a closed down Pontiac dealership. I drove over there this afternoon to snap some shots:


At some point I'd like to take a slow drive from Groveland to Tampa, stopping to photograph all the interesting things along the way. Unfortunately, one can really only drive from my house to Groveland by going forty some miles through the strip mall hell of West Colonial. Sigh.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

an unproductive week

You might have thought from the lack of blog posts around here that perhaps I was really busy. In reality, I spent most of the week in bed. I wasn't majorly sick or anything (and I did make it to both of my in-person classes and was able to keep up with my work online), just headachy, achy, and malaise-y. The headache was actually gone yesterday... but it reappeared this evening. No, this isn't anything new - it's something I've been dealing with most of my life. Yay, chronic headaches. 

So short story long, I did very little that could be deemed blog-worthy this week. That being said, I've been slowly adding more to The Inhumane Society. I've posted the first 45 of the 70 pages I've written so far. Check it out! I can't promise it will be a pleasant read, but it is, at least, interesting...

Sunday, September 2, 2012

An off kilter labor day weekend

Most of my classes and classwork are online. I have one class (G) that meets in real life once a week. Another class (R) meets in real life every other week, with online interaction in the interim. The third class (A) is completely online. Labor Day weekend was approaching, and my mom up in Georgia was both sick and making noises about my lawn needing to be mowed. I decided that since my class that meets in person had already met, and that since the rest of my work could be done from wherever I happened to be, I'd spend a few days up in Georgia. I decided to go Thursday through Sunday, the idea being that I would miss the Labor Day Friday to Monday traffic. That part of the plan worked well. The part about doing schoolwork while I was gone? Not so much.

I left Thursday morning - taking Charlie and Mochi with me. I decided to take the back roads, which as I've mentioned before are substantially more interesting than driving the interstates. It took two hours longer than the interstate route, but there is just so much more to see! The area of highway 17 between Deland and Palatka in particular has sooooo many interesting things to see that I could spend weeks exploring that area. Instead, however, I didn't stop more than just a couple of times. This is because poor Charlie got carsick around Cassleberry (which, for those of you who don't know, is an Orlando suburb). I had to pop into a Publix for paper towels, then pull over several times to clean up after the poor girl. I figured I should make as straight a go of it as I could for her sake.

I did have to stop and snag a picture of this (in Sanford, maybe?)

I have no idea where the time went while I was home. Granted, I just managed to piss away five months there without accomplishing hardly anything, so I'm not sure how it is that I expected to be efficient with my school work while being there for an extended weekend. Still, I guess I got a good bit done. I played with all the animals - take a look at Blondie! (Remember her?) She looks a tad hungover here; I woke her up while trying to take a picture of her asleep:


I took my aunt shopping, went with my mom to get hay for the horses, took Grey Kitty to the vet for his steroid injection, mowed my lawn, weeded my garden, and (sort of) supervised the roofers who were working on my roof. Oddly enough, my 90 year old roof was not leaking... although it sure looked like it would leak all the time, which is why my insurance company demanded that some work be done. Sigh. All the loose tin panels have been firmly secured, the entire roof has been double-coated with cool seal (making it white), and a possum may or may not have been sealed into my attic. I guess I'll find out next time I'm home :/

Top: Before, Bottom: After

I did get a *little* schoolwork done - I posted two postings to one of my online discussions (for R class), caught up on my reading for R, and got about halfway caught up on my reading for A. I didn't get any of my work done for my assistantship. Sigh.

Friday night I had thought I'd heard water running when I was in my backyard, but it was getting dark and I couldn't see what was making the noise. I checked, and nothing was running inside, so I made a mental note to check it out Saturday morning. And forgot. This morning, right before I left, I noticed the source of said noise:

Yay, hole in the pipe.
Luckily mom was able to convince the same people who fixed the roof to fix this as well.

I decided to leave early this morning, and to take the interstates so that I would get home - and thus be able to get back to work - sooner. I got home sooner, but then I took a three hour nap. Yeah. So needless to say, I've got a lot of catching up to do. Reading and web discussions, here I come!