Monday, May 05, 2008

Another trip to Seoul...

...another student interview.

Many times, when I visit Seoul and go to a tourist site, a group of students will ask for an interview.

Kyobo Book Store seems infested with middle school students ready to ambush foreigners in the foreign book section. Well, it seemed that way a few years ago, things may have changed.

Yesterday, I was interviewed in Insadong by a group of Korea University students and they seemed to be doing real research so I did my best to talk about English Education in Korea.

Most times, however, the interview is a homework assignment given by a teacher who thinks getting the students to speak with different foreigners is a good idea. Ah, put like that, it probably is, but do these teachers realize how small the pool of interview subjects is?

A Korean English professor at my university gave similar homework to one or two hundred students and we 20 foreign staff were overwhelmed and finally hid - partially because the students waited until the last moment and tried to all interview us on the same day in a long line.

Anyone who thinks 'Interview the foreigner' is a good homework assignment, please consider the student/ available foreigner ratio before going ahead with it. I am fine with, I don't know, an interview a year, maybe two, but not ten in a day.

To put it bluntly, I get paid to teach English, don't think I am eager to teach your students for free on my time off!


Jon Allen said...

You must have a friendly face. I found I could easily avoid them by avoiding eye contact and looking mean. As soon as I looked and smiled at them they would ask and it felt churlish to refuse.

This subject was done to death on one of the Korea forums with some very polarised views of the subject. I don't object to the idea, as long as they accept the fact that some people will refuse to answer their questions and they handle that politely. I got the feeling that a lot of the Koreans did not handle refusal well which caused the bad feeling from the native speakers.

Jon Allen said...

forgot to tick the box for followup comments.
Why don't they make the default on?
( please feel free to delete this comment :)

kwandongbrian said...

I hope you're not upset that I didn't delete your second message; I just wanted to reply to it.

With my site, you are unlikely to be overwhelmed with responses but if you wanted to be informed of Marmot's comments, your inbox would fill up fast.

If there were a middle path, an email notice after 24 hours or 5 messages ( or 10, or whatever), I would appreciate that.

Brian said...

The trick is to just ignore any English thrown at you. When I get pelted with "Haaiiiiiiii," "Hey," "Where are you from?" and the other garbage they think is amusing, I don't even make eye contact and I don't break stride. We really need to get people off the idea that we're here to amuse the public. Oh . . . and yeah, don't give those stupid interview assignments that all have the same four questions.

kwandongbrian said...

I do a fair job of ignoring "Haaiii", especially when the speaker has already passed me and is yelling at my back. On the other hand, when someone faces me directly, clearly wants my attention and says, "Excuse me, ..." I have trouble ignoring m/her.

The same four questions: Yes, this is really annoying. My favourite (and by favourite, I mean most annoying) is this exchange:
Student: How long have you been in Korea?
Me: Eight years.
Student: What is your first impression of Korea?
Me: [sigh]

Roboseyo said...

I answer in French when I'm not in the mood to give out a free English lesson. Or in Korean, I say "I'm sorry. I want to be alone now."

I don't mind answering from time to time, and I get tagged a lot (I live next to Insadong).

"What's your first impression. . ."
I get that too, after five.

"Do you know Kimchi?"

The only times it really bugs me are when I'm in the sauna, or when some parent has practically dragged their kid over to me by the ear so that she can hear him say "Hello where are you from?" to me in English.

have a good one.