Thursday, 24 January 2008

Possible new E-2s

The E-2 Visas status is a big deal for us here in Korea. E-2 is the visa that is given to your standard Native English Speaker teaching in Korea. Professors and the like get other E visas.

I came across this article that claims the government might relax the rules for E-2 visas to include some Asian countries. I have no problem with that. There are indeed people who speak English at a very high lever in many Asian countries. That goes for most countries in the world.

The problem I have thought is what I see as the main reasoning for this possible step. Asian teachers, they say, are often better trained than the Natives, especially in grammar. Grammar?

Why do we have Korean teachers? I often hear, and rightfully so, that the children have better grammar than us Natives. The difference is that we can speak the language in an understandable way and know things that you don’t learn in books.

Many of us are able to imitate accents to various degrees. That’s good for explaining pronunciation to children. Many of us have travelled or are just very interested in the Dialects of English. We can explain to you why BS does not just stand for Beer Station and why Morning Glory is more than just a stationary brand. shows how these little “problems” pop up everywhere.

I admit that many Asian teachers would be able to do this, but normally this comes only from an immersion in the language where you hear and see it every day, all day. This doesn’t happen in most Asian countries.

I have a fiend from India whose English, I feel, is much better than mine. It should be because she has a master’s degree in English, but then I think of the little Koreans oscillating their heads and spewing the Indian accent. Not that it will be any funnier that a Korean with a hard Scottish or Irish accent, mind you.

Just out of interest you can see why Korea only takes teachers from their current list. The numbers of First Language Speakers are, comparatively speaking, very small in most other countries. Have a look at this list.

In two other interesting articles you can read that Seoul Upgrades Center for Foreigners and that the New Administration Struggling to Tackle English Divide

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