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Quiet Struggles of Female Korean Language Teachers scrap 9 download

by Selena Rae Bucu

Korean Teachers

  • Author

    Seo Su-Jin 서수진

  • Publisher

  • Language

    English English

  • Date

    2023-11-24

  • ISBN

About Reviewer 리뷰어 소개

리뷰어 이름

Selena Rae Bucu

Selena Rae Bucu

Why do you want to learn a language? What motivates you? What’s your plan after learning the language? These are common questions we encounter whenever we join a class of different practices. But more specifically, language learning.

 

Language centers or academies look for reasons to build a curriculum to cater to students and their learning journey. This data-collecting method plays along the lines of assessment and evaluation. Assessment and evaluation are systematic processes in the academe that are vital in ensuring the betterment of education. The teachers assess the student's learning behavior based on empirical data of various variables.

 

The students, on the other hand, would give their feedback to the teachers with reasons behind their evaluations. Most of the time, evaluations can make or break a teacher’s career at an institution. Evaluations are crucial. It can be regarded as the final holding power of a student over a teacher, especially if the teacher is a contractual employee only. Being a contractual employee is a common occurrence at language academies.

Surprisingly, Korean Teachers, written by Seo Su-jin, is a Korean novel about the hypothetical but seemingly real stories of being a contractual female language teacher was recently translated into English by Elizabeth Buehler. The Hankyoreh Literature Awardee discusses the story of four Korean language lecturers at H University, Seon-yi, Miju, Ga-eun, and Han-hee, and the subtle buildup of their issues as teachers.

 

As a Korean language teacher herself, Seo Su-jin captures the essential qualities of teaching experience and life as a female teacher. The novel exposes the world of education as a service industry and a toxic work environment where microaggressions against subordinates and coworkers exist.

 

The author also incorporates Korean grammar lessons into the story to further explain the psyche of the protagonists. During one of Ga-eun's Level One classes, her students ask why there are so many different ways to ask 'Why' in Korean.

 


She answers that Koreans like to ask why.

 

"Why did the Korean language have so many reason grammar rules? Ga-eun had thought about that before. She assumed it was because Koreans had always emphasized reasons. Why? Why in the world? Why did that happen? What's the reason? There must be a reason, right? There must be a cause if there's an effect, right? Perhaps the ceaseless asking and answering led to the creation of countless reason grammar rules.”

 

"Considering the paucity of result grammar rules - like -(eu)n kyeolgwa, -(eu)n kkeute, or -(eu)n nameoji - it seemed Koreans didn't really care about results. Did they leave the outcome to the heavens? Korean was a language that adapted to what had already happened but was only satisfied when it burrowed deep into the reason for what had happened." 1

 

Different issues revolve around Seon-yi, Miju, Ga-eun, and Han-hee. Each character has their strengths and weaknesses as a lecturer. In most cases, teaching at language schools is not a permanent job. As students go through exams and seatwork, teachers are evaluated constantly by their students and behavioral assessments by their colleagues and superiors.

Ga-eun ponders what has been happening at H University and with her colleagues. But somehow, she fails to provide a reason despite knowing all the Korean grammar rules.

 

"How could Koreans be so confident? Did they think they could explain reasons in fourteen different ways? Or did they frequently create new grammar rules because they couldn't explain in any other way?" 2


It's interesting to see the buildup of tension whenever the characters come up with reasons and how they address their situation. Their actions resulted in conflicts that affected their employment at H University. Therefore, the accumulation of these reasons made their teaching life difficult.

 

Korean Teachers sheds a new perspective on common grounds of human experience as a female teacher - life as a temporary lecturer working by the hour, heavily loaded yet under-compensated seasoned teachers, peer pressure, clashing personalities, camaraderie and civility, and the internal misogyny that lies within.



Seo, SJ. (2022). Korean Teachers (pp. 138-139). Harriett Press. 1

Seo, SJ. (2022). Korean Teachers (pp. 139). Harriett Press. 2


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