Open up and say “RRR”

As some people know, Korea is very English oriented. Despite the fact that English isn’t even an official language, it is treated as one. You would be hard pressed to ever find a t-shirt written in their own native language. Sure there are the occasional hats with 오빠 written on them, or something to that effect. But they aren’t popular. Other bloggers have written on this extensively. I’m too lazy to make a link to their pages, but just type “korea beat” into google, and you can see his blogroll to find out more.

Even my co-teacher is confused as to why there is such a demand for English. He said that if there was ever a job where he needed English to be hired he would look for other work. He never grew up with a passion for English, he only ever became interested in the subject during middle school when he started learning guitar and searched for some American music to listen to. Even though he said he wouldn’t get a job that needed English, he ended up being my English co-teacher. When he heard this news he said that he almost cried and wanted to quit his job. Unfortunately, in this economic down turn there are not many options available so he decided to stick it out.

There is such a demand for “perfect” English, that some people go to extreme lengths to achieve it. The lingual frenulum is present on the underside of the tongue, the thing that seems like it connects the tongue to the inside of your mouth.  Not everyone is running out to get this done, but it is being performed on elementary students and whoever else feels the need to get it. Essentially a frenuloplasty is performed to cut that piece of tissue, which apparently helps in the pronunciation of the letters “L” and “R”.The pronunciation is helped due to the extension of the tongue. Most people regard this surgery as useless due to the fact that Korean Americans can pronounce both letters with ease, and without any corrective surgery. I guess it would be like getting liposuction when all you need to do is exercise.

It is pretty amazing that there is such a high demand for English when there are only 1 million foreigners in Korea. Sure learning a language is very useful, especially English, as it allows you to communicate with most of the world. However, learning it so that you may some day get a “good” job seems quite ridiculous. The percentage of jobs that deal with other foreign countries are relatively low. Sure, it is fair to say you need English proficiency within the business community, but other than that, I don’t believe it is needed.

Yes, it will be essential if Korea ever takes off as a tourist destination, but I don’t think countries should be so accommodating when it comes to language. I believe road signs, and important things of this nature should be accompanied with some English, but other than that, no. That is what you sign up for if you plan on entering a foreign country with a foreign language. Be prepared to learn some of the native tongue, just as we demand other people to do within English speaking countries. And I do say some. Not your whole childhood, so that one day if you ever do decide to leave the country, you can use it. And not so that one day you might bump into a English speaker at the age of 26 and direct him to the nearest subway station.


One Response to “Open up and say “RRR””

  1. Marcel Irnie Says:

    thats some intersting stuff Luke. nicely written

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