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Another move against English Hagwons

Just as the 10pm ruling has sent shock through the hagwon system, a new ruling today might have even more influence. The TOEIC/TOEFL system is going to be replaced by a new government test by 2012. This test, based on (shockingly) the Japanese EIKEN test. The idea is to kill English hagwons entirely. We’ve seen the huge growth of the EPIK program, which until 3 years ago was more of a myth than a reality. Now the schools have proved that they can get a foreigner in every school challenging the hagwon dominance on having whitey (my apologies to all not-whitey teachers).

The next step has been made law, and now this new test. If it is a pass/fail test, then all you need to do is pass. If there is no English score, then what’s the point of spending half of your income so little Taeho can go to a hagwon…so says the theory.

First, Hagwons are like hydra. I’ve been complaining for years that education has nothing to do with hagwons. The owners are first and last businessmen. This is proving itself true in the amount of business sense many of these owners have. In Seoul the hagwons have already simply changed from a late night to an early morning schedule. Changing the English test will just result in the hagwons changing their style.

Second, If the test is simply pass/fail, then how are the better universities (already stringent) going to analyze the student’s English grade. The best universities are always going to be selective. If the test is pass/fail, prepare yourselves for English interview training, or in house university testing (which already happens to a limited extent)

Third, This is a government announcement. For those of us who have lived here for a while, we’ve come to understand that the media has grown to have  a symbiotic relationship with the government, and basically act as a mouth piece. I’ve read articles stating things like ‘US troops out of Seoul by 2010’…still there… ‘New Capital City to be built in xxxx by 2012’…pretty sure Seoul hasn’t moved yet…, ‘Seongdo International City will see 20 million foreign visitors by 2015”…Korea sees 6 million a year…so how’s the number going to happen? Kidnappings? and finally..’Korean food to be in top 5 foods of the world by 2017’. First, 2017? why not…never mind. You get the idea.

This article mentions that schools will have to accept the exam. If it’s not a mandatory change, I doubt it will happen. No institution likes change. It means new paperwork, and if there is one thing everybody hates is more paperwork.

I, more than anybody, would love to see the changes required in the system to see hagwons close and kids have more recreation time. But, I strongly believe, that changing the test is not the answer. Then entire system FUNDAMENTALLY has to change. Yet another bandaid solution will do nothing.

And that is my rant.