Thursday, September 08, 2011

August Rush: North American Passport Holders Only

Chronologically, we signed to buy the apartment and then I lost quite a bit of money in the market, so I now had a major financial commitment and barely the funds to meet it. I remember my wife working through the apartment paperwork as I watched the London FTSE market futures drop a huge amount - 8.4% at one point - on my mobile phone. I was recklessly long overnight in the market on the ‘Centum apartment play’, and there promised to be an enormous progress crushing fall at the open, which there was.

So it was definitely time to find another job in Korea, and for the first time I had to truly confront one of the fundamental problems with living here - namely that while I’d always been able to use my software and web development skills in England to put food on the table, and there I was capable of doing a myriad of other things, in Korea apparently there is really only option open to me, which is teaching. This was a pity because the one conclusion I had from doing a TESOL course many years ago is that I never really wanted to teach English again, even though I got good grades. Worse, many of the jobs involved teaching children. This is not my thing, and if I thought having a child might kindle some enthusiasm for it on my part, it only made me realise that I need a break from that, not more of it.

Life is suddenly looking a lot tougher.

And then, after I decided I had to find a job, I discovered something I’d always been vaguely aware of in Korea, but the scope of which had never quite registered in my mind. I started searching in earnest for jobs on Koreabridge, and I began reading the phrase ‘North American passport holder’ rather more than I expected. I hadn’t realised that being a Canadian and speaking Canadian English was a class above being British and speaking English English, but I guess now I know.

I suppose it’s all aboot [sic] the accent, because while the job ad I saw which asked for an “american (but, if you have a very neutral accent, another nationality is possible.)” perhaps represented an individual preference rather than a corporate policy, it may well encapsulate the underlying prejudices Koreans have about anything which isn’t American English, or perhaps as I’m learning, Canadian English as the second choice.

Korea seems to get very little bang for its buck when it comes to the subject of English teaching, and perhaps part of the reason is the kind of profiling that prioritises people based on nationality and race rather than on actual English and teaching ability.

Another good one I saw recently - though sadly I can't find the link now - involved a group of male corporate executives who were looking for “an English tutor – female only”. Dear Sirs, I think what you are actually looking for, is a geisha.


F5Waeg said...

run some ads in the local papers. With your business experience and F5 visa, set up some groups. Network with everyone you know, print up some business cards. . .it'll be more hassle at first but you'll definitely make more.

Mike said...

Thanks - that's an interesting idea about the ads. I've been thinking about the business cards recently, because lately I seem to have been receiving quite a few of them from Koreans and have nothing to give back.

Jukechst said...

How shocking, really!

Whats wrong with British English? I think they know where the money is...

Anonymous said...

There are quite a few opportunities outside of teaching English.
However, they are almost all in Seoul.

Curtis said...

It probably has something to do with non-rhotic accents. If there's an R on the page, but you can't hear it in the dialect, think of the havoc it wreaks on the learning curve! Ha. But in all seriousness, it seems odd that North Americans are preferred, but I've read on several occasions that the accents are simply easier to understand. The prevalence of American programming may also have something to do with this preference, though Koreans really ought to know about British classics such as Doctor Who, Coronation Street, Top Gear, and the varied onslaught of Gordon Ramsey's vulgarities.

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