Letter from a Filipina Teacher

I saw this letter posted on Korea Times. It’s about a Filpina teacher appealing (begging?) to the Korean government to allow non-native English speakers to teach in Korea. Some of the posters have been attacking her “writing style” and her not-so-perfect grammar (according to the grammar police on the board.) I guess that’s one of the risks of going online (been taking those risks for years!)

Rigid Qualifications on English Teachers
Dear editor,
I am a Filipina teacher, and I’ve been teaching English here in our country for almost four years. We Filipinos are capable in English whether for speaking or writing. Maybe this is because we study English from primary school, and the fact that our country was a colony of the Americans in the past.
I want to talk about President Lee Myung-bak’s announcement about hiring only native English teachers to teach English in Korea. When I found out the news, I was really devastated and wrecked, thinking that it’s my portal to teach English in my dreamland.
Since I started to fall in love with Korean culture and traditions, I began a quest to learn about and study Korea. As a matter of fact, I also started teaching Korean students here in our country. I could really feel the sense of “belongingness.”
I don’t dispute the fact that native English speakers can perform their teaching with flying colors, not just because they are teachers but also because it’s their first language, but I do hope that President Lee would soften his heart about allowing qualified non-native English speaker to enter Korea and teach English.
It does not necessarily mean that non-native speakers of English can’t speak English. Surely when President Lee softens his heart, many teachers would gladly share their knowledge teaching English to his fellow Koreans.
Delaney Elacion
Dasmarinas, Cavite
The Philippines

There are now talks of allowing Filipino English teachers to Korea by next year. It could be a good idea if only they will be paid competitively, but English is a big business in Korea. KWIM?


  1. It’s a pity that our educators wish to work somewhere else other than their own country.The Philippine government should feel a bit ashame that our people is pleading to be able to work somewhere – that is mainly because they don’t get paid well in their current jobs.It is a sad fact but hey if they would be paid better in Korea-why not huh;).
    See you at
    Life and Me
    Xploring Asia

  2. i think it’s a disgrace that the korean government is only allowing teachers from native speakers such as US, Canada, ect.. to teach in their country when there’s a lot of koreans flocking in the philippines just to learn English. Lol i guess they want the best… ahaha Even if the kor-gov ..hire teachers from native speakers of English… from US, Can.. etc.. it’s not like students will automatically become fluent in English.. it takes years… to perfect a language.. and one must be constantly speaking the language…xD just stating a fact.. eheh



  5. Let’s respect her opinion…
    If for her, Korea is a dreamland… Let it be… đŸ˜€
    I also love to go to Korea, not because I watched too much Korean dramas, but because I want to see the kids again…
    Peace everyone!

  6. well, koreans are verrryyyyy particular about grammar…they are so grammar conscious that they dont know how to apply it, anyway…and it isnt a guarantee that all native speakers are grammar perfect(even the US President is being picked on this!)…oh well, discrimination is everywhere…but you know what, korean students who have studied in australia commented that they learn english much better in the philippines than in the land down under…i think many koreans are just too proud to admit that they can be helped by “poor” filipinos…

  7. true… a lot of koreans come to our beloved Philippines to learn english. one korean student ( she studied english in canada for a year)of mine here in korea expressed her desire to go to the Philippines to learn english better. isn’t that something? mind you that i am not teaching english as a subject here but a major subject in engineering taught in english.

  8. I’m really wondering why many koreans chose to study english here in the philippines and many filipinos are kind to them. Almost everybody here welcome them but why when filipinos visit korea, they experience much discriminations?? they look at us filipinos like” a trash” ..

  9. It is very saddening that Filipinos, no matter how good “we” are in in English, can and will never be recognized as legal English teachers here in Korea. I am here teaching English as well. I have heard numerous complaints from other Filipina teachers here. The first complaint is the salary,it is always 500USD(or much more) lower than the amount “white” people receive. Second, the amount of work and the lenght of time spent in the institution(S). Filipina teachers here work more, spend more time and effort for their lessons and are being paid much lower wages compared to “native speakers.”
    Aren’t we native speakers? Color really matters here. It’s stupid and very infuriating.
    But then, it saddened me when I read the letter sent- it should have been re-read and corrected before it was submitted to prove that “we” really have the necessary skills to teach English in this country of “perfection.”
    Here, a lot of them “perfect” people treat Filipinos in obvious discriminating ways. But then, some of our kababayans too are doing things which are embarrassing and totally aggravating. Let’s tame ourselves kababayans and show these people that we truly deserve their respect.
    Let’s love our country and embrace its imperfections. Mabuhay ka Pilipinas kong mahal.

  10. read all the comments and guess they are true… hoping that that filipinos will be embraced by koreans. Just pray to God or to Buddha

  11. Now, they are hiring on the job training please try to visit your dong offices or social welfare for some good programs. Thanks to the Korean Government. Mabuhay din sila.
    And pls. sa mga kababayan let us be humble in everything we receive. Share it and let it be known. Viva Philippines and Viva South Korea

  12. I think we should be more objective when judging ourselves, whether we really are capable or not of teaching English as a second language. As ive said in my previous posts, being a Filipino does not guarantee your skills in English. I agree we have so many good teachers out there (especially those who really majored in English during their college, or at least obtained an advanced degree related to English), not the ones who think they can, just because they thought so.
    Like Americans or any native speakers of English, we have our share of defective ones too, and the proportion is greater on our side. I hope people will not get offended, but i hope the “quality” teachers will be the ones who will get the job if ever so that the impression against us Filipinos will change for good. Imagine yourself as an entrepreneur. Of course you always want your best products out in the market, and keep the defective ones and not so perfect ones out.
    Nationalism is good, but not too much.
    Im not a grammar police nor insinuating to be one, and i dont attack anyone because of his or her writing skills. Im not perfect too. And i acknowledge that. At least i know where I stand, and ill keep it that way.
    The example above is exactly what ive been talking about even before. But most people viewed my comments negatively.
    Nothing is wrong with making mistakes in your writing once in a while, but “por dios por santo naman” if your skills are very far from being perfect,dont even mention you’ve been in that job for a lengthy time of period already. Because this gives an assumption that the quality of English Teachers in the Philippines is a low quality one, and i dont believe in that. As ive said before, and i will say it again. Filipino English teachers are by far one of the best in the world. But im referring to those who majored in English Language during their college years and teaching in quality Universities, Colleges or even high schools in the Philippines and not those who assumed they are already qualified just because someone said they are or just because they think they are.

  13. You people are deluded. Philippine English is one of the many “Englishes” in the world (Indian English is another example). But it is a variety that many South Koreans (and perhaps even more Japanese) are NOT interested in. When teaching a language like French (for example) teachers don’t sell the grammar, they sell French culture, and I have to say that I haven’t met many Koreans who are (deeply)interested in Philippine culture. As for the Japanese, in general Thai and Indonesian culture are more interesting to them, and of course English = the U.S., Australia, Britain.

  14. Talking about English.English has standard and that is what is acceptable usage based on the native speakers’way. However,English grammar is all uniform in its rule but relative in accent or in pronunciation as spoken by different people of different countries. Australian accent? Wow! Scottish? Wow! Even British? Korean students complain that they could not understand them but many would honestly confess that they better understand Filipinos when they speak. I tell you, it is not the English of Filipinos that they don’t like. It is our being Filipinos, poor, and slaves and they think we are not worthy to teach them. They are proud that they are not willing to be taught by “servants.” Sorry if this offends you but this is the real score of the puzzle why they treat as that way.

  15. An Addendum. Koreans who disagree that Filipino teachers be allowed to teach English in Korea are up there controlling the educational system of the government, so rich and influential. Koreans who go to the Philippines to study English are not so rich enough and have no choice but to go there, that’s what they can afford. What a shame!

  16. “but I do hope that President Lee would soften his heart about allowing qualified non-native English speaker to enter Korea and teach English.”
    Unfortunately for the sender, she doesn’t deserve to be given the chance to teach here then, as implied on her post.

  17. anybody aware who that “jiwonsi” is?
    am i to understand that he’s telling us that our “english” is different from “english” all over the world?
    then let me make this one perfectly clear: WE LEARNED INTERNATIONAL STANDARD ENGLISH. We are more than capable of passing those tests like TOEFL AND TOEIC that MOST and MANY KOREANS cannot PASS.
    AND THE ONLY problem that i might pinpoint is this: ACCENT. We may not have the accent to match our abilities, but doesn’t mean we do not have the ability to teach. We actually are better, because we know the tricks on how to learn a second language, better than those “Native Speakers.”

  18. Well, all I can say is that I like Korea. I am an English teacher here for Koreans and I really enjoy learning their culture. I wanted to teach in Korea, mainly because teachers are more compensated there. I had a Korean student who is willing to do his very best to see me again. This time, in Korea. So, I am also thinking about looking for a job in Korea.

  19. I’ve been teaching English here in Korea for about 9 years now. I see how many Koreans discriminate “pinoy” teachers. On the other hand, there are also quite a number of Koreans who prefer to have English classes with Filipino teachers.Here are some of their reasons:
    1. The pay is lower than native speakers.
    2. Filipino teachers work with their heart (diligent).
    2. They can better understand the way we speak (clear).

  20. I am an American. I’ve lived in Korea for the last for years, not teaching english but protecting the Koreans

  21. I am an American. I’ve lived in Korea for the last four years, not teaching english but protecting the Koreans. The United States flag flies on Korean soil because the Koreans don’t have the will to defend their own country. Korea is not a wonderful country. Korea in unsanitary, corrupt, and ungrateful to the United States and the brave servicemen and women who defend Korea. The United States spends hundreds of millions of dollars defending this country every year and the thanks we get is a mob of people outside the gates of our bases trying to extort Americans. They also spend a significant amount of time stealing our intellectual property. From fake Coach bags to unlicensed Mickey Mouse dolls, Korea as a whole plunders several hundred million dollars more from United States corporations every year. They also have unilateral trade policies. They are constantly banging the table for free trade in the U.S. but extracting at least 18% from imports.
    A flood of of low quality import cars arrives into the port of Portland, Oregon (my home state) every year. These second rate automobiles go to the poor who cannot afford anything better. However, if the United States extracted 18% tariff from the Koreans they wouldn’t be able to sell even one.
    Korea is not even second rate in education, medicine, or Science. There is absolutely no innovation in the county. There is no leadership in the country. Even the former president had to jump from a bridge to purge himself of the corruption charges he was about to be jailed on. The story is readily available from any korean news archive.
    The most reliable thing in Korea is the availability of cheap bars and prostitutes. It is accepted in Korean culture that any woman who wants or needs money will sell herself. In support of this I offer up the recent arrest of five housewives in Seoul who were sleeping around for extra spending money.
    Considering these facts, filipinos and filipinas of talent ought to invest their time and effort into building their own country. The Philippines; like Africa, is abundant in Natural Resources and opportunity. The only thing the Philippines is missing is the proper leadership. Lack of education and a high birth-rate; mostly from the impoverished, are holdng the Philippines back. Fillipinos are the answer to turning it around.
    The only positive thing I get from Korea is the familiarity from being here. It’s the same familiarity I get from walkin into a McDonald’s. Nothing More.

    1. Jhendlind:
      “Look who’s talking”?!!!
      You are not protecting the Koreans…you are there because you don’t like your manufactured weapons to be tested in your own land. huh! As what you did to Vietnam and Gulf … when there is war you could sell your weapons to other country, in that way your economy will boom again… Stop your bush…whatever!!!
      I’d just been to different parts of S. Korea and what you are saying as their country is unsanitary? I think your brain is the one needed sanitation.
      Go home…

  22. I had been teaching English language to Koreans for almost fours years now. Yes, I absolutely agree, that Koreans don’t necessarily need those native speakers in which one of my student told me, have many issues about drugs use in Korea. Yes, they may speak English very well but, as a teacher, we are not paid only to teach the language but to be a good influence to our students.
    Imagine yourself as a Korean parent who spent big amount of money for your child to be able to speak in English. Yes, they may be able to speak very good English from those native speakers but when you see your kid, they learn not only English from their teacher but with added bonus like smoking, drug use, and those very slang, profane words from their native teachers.
    Good Luck!!!!

  23. hi! I also had a wish and dream to go and teach to Korea because its one of my favorite place.For me, it’s a dreamland. Korea and Singapore. As a 16-yr old education student from De La Salle University, I encounter so many Korean classmates. Their parents spend money for the reason that they may be able to practice and learn more English words. Also,they said Filipinos are better in speaking English from a very single word to a beautiful sentence. With that, I could say PRE. Lee should give chance to our Filipino teachers to prove that we are competitive enough to help their youth to become more linguistic in speaking English. Also,let us pray that God will touch the heart of the presidents of all country specially Pres Arroyo. That they may see the needs and passion of each individuals. God bless.

  24. Julienne and other dreamers:
    Stop dreaming… our ambassador and Phils.government already realized that there is no need for our Filipino teachers to teach in S.Korea. A lot of Filipinos are earning when Koreans are pouring down here in our country instead of only few teachers going there to earn and yet be separated to their family. They also have to face lots of difficulties: winter, clothings, lotions, foods, high standard of living, renting, language barriers to superiors etc ..so even though you, as a teacher there is earning P80,000. ( 2,000,000 won)monthly, still more than half of your salary will just spent there.
    So, you have to understand our government if they will no longer asked the Korean government to re-consider Filipinos to teach there.
    Stop dreaming, it will not going to happen unless …

  25. TO: Delaney Elacion
    Dasmarinas, Cavite
    The Philippines
    Hope you double check your letter first before you posted it in KOREA TIMES. There are grammatical mistakes and words used inappropriately. If ever our government changes their mind and persuade again for our English teachers to teach in S. Korea and you are very much interested…you should train more.

  26. Hi. Im a Registered Nurse in the Philippines. I was a Call Center Agent for one year assisting North American Clients. I am an English Instructor for High School here in South Korea for one year now. I understand the predicaments of other filipino regarding korean culture. When I first came here, I had a culture shocked. It took me three months to adjust with the society and understand their norms. I can say the reason we filipinos perceived koreans as racist because their form of governmnet is Socialist. Meaning to say they have high regard with social class or social standing. In my one year of stay here, I learned how to socialize with them , engaged in different activities and immerse with them. So far, I am enjoying my stay here, i met a lot people and friends and most specially my students who are very eager to learn and very passionate with their studies…………………………..

  27. The racial discrimination in Korea in still present. I’m a Filipina married to a Korean. I’m an English teacher by profession. I’ve been teaching for 5 years already. I was a high school teacher in public before. I resigned and started to settle in Korea. I didn’t expect that racial discrimination in Korea would be as serious as this. I was introduced by my boss as a Singaporean and not as a Filipina. What the heck right? But do I have a choice? It’s not that easy to be accepted as a teacher here legally especially if the big question is OUR NATIONALITY. What’s wrong being a FILIPINO? They are not even aware that the voices over their robot English teachers are FILIPINOS. Recently I taught speech to 20 Korean students in our academy. Fortunately they won in NATIONAL COMPETITION in Seoul…but i wasn’t that happy-why? I couldn’t raise our flag , and I couldn’t rejoice that much as a Filipina. It feels betraying my own country, and I couldn’t stand lying everyday whenever they ask things about me.This is a sad truth in Korea.

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