Suwon, South Korea
The summer is upon us. Of course we all have different ideas of what the summer is. For me, it’s the holidays. This June, I will be working through my summer holidays but don’t worry; I have two months of holidays so working through them isn’t as big a catastrophe as it might sound. This summer I will be in Dublin (What of the letter from Korea? Well perhaps I’ll compromise). Every summer Dublin fills with Europeans students who come to study English. This summer will be no different. I make a living out of this.
At the same time, every year thousands of Koreans leave Korea to study in English. Recently I have started trying to figure out how to get more Koreans to go to Ireland. According to the God of Statistics there are only around 1500 Koreans in Ireland and most of them are language students. Working as an English language professional here in Korea I have been exposed to, what I’ve heard and called myself, the obsession, craze, determination to learn English on a national level. So why isn’t this number bigger? Continue reading
*You can read about what encouraged me to write this particular post here*
A test is an objective means of analysing who is the best at something in particular. A test is a way to see who is best suited for a particular job, course, or future, so it is the best way to choose applicants, or at least make the decision a lot better, right? Well, no it isn’t. Tests have as many disadvantages as they do advantages for both those giving the test and those taking the test, which I’m sure most of you are aware of.
I couldn’t feasibly or reasonably accuse every test in the world of falling into this category, and I am not going to point the finger at anyone who does or gives tests regularly. What I want to do here is to use Korea as an example of how testing effects not only the people taking the test, but also the rest of the country.
Korea is a country that, one could say, loves a good test. Tests are used to decide practically everything in terms of a person’s career. There is a phenomenon here that exemplifies this; the country starts work an hour later on the day the national exam for entry into university, called 수능 (Korean SAT), takes place. This so that the students taking the exam won’t get stuck in traffic and be late for the rest of their lives – of course it can always be done next year but when you are under so much pressure to perform and then you have to delay it another year, why would you want to?
It’s a massive national effort to make sure every eighteen year-old has as much a chance as everyone else to do the test. So much rests on this test that people all over the country get behind the students in a peculiar.
The test puts so much pressure on students that many lose all impetus to study hard when they get into an actual university. In fact the competitive and progressive learning atmosphere that you would usually attach to university is removed. This is because once they are in the university they essentially are prepped for their next examination, which is usually for a professional qualification. Students are frequently given high grades because it is recognised that employers look at grades before ability. Students don’t really learn, they just get the qualification without actually being qualified.