I took a TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication) today. TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) isn’t much of a big deal for me, so TOEIC isn’t too hard either, if not easier. Listening and reading boring 200 questions can be tiresome though.
These tests are not big deal for me, because I grew up in the United States and got good education, thanks to my parents who were dedicated and could afford to do so. But for many others, these tests are big deal. A lot of people did not have same experience with me (which is why I dislike people who credit no one else but himself for good outcome). So far, I took TOEIC twice in Seoul – one in a high school building right next to my home, and another high school a bit away from my place.
These are 4-stories building, and I think their capacities are about 3-500. Every single time I take TOEIC, the whole building is full. The entire classrooms and wings are posted with test room numbers. As the test is finished, a big crowd heading down to the 1st floor fills the building. Many of them are college students, taking TOEIC for their job application (and this is why I took TOEIC, too – they just need it). I saw more than five people, talking on the phone, saying things like “oh shi*t, that was so tough,” “How was it? I frigging bombed it.” The sight of it makes me frustrated every time.
This just shows how system in South Korea is massively flawed. English is a language. It is a tool for certain purpose. For instance, based on our common sense, someone who works in a domestic sales or teaching young students does not use English on daily basis for her/his job. This person doesn’t really need to be a good English speaker. Or, a college student who majored in Classic Korean Literature probably won’t need good English skill either.
The opposite is truth in South Korea, though. You just have to have that TOEIC number even to apply for…everything. A reporter once asked several Korean companies why they require TOEIC/TOEFL for candidates, and the candidates would actually use English on daily basis if hired. Not one company could answer.
There is no evaluation system to make a good analysis of each candidate. Well, to begin with, many of them don’t know how to write a job description, let alone the necessity of it. So the only “standardized evaluation” they depend on is TOEIC and TOEFL. How sad.
This is the core of problem in South Korea and its education. It is so competitive. Failure is not an option – especially in a world where certain behaviors and positions are expected depending on one’s age and gender, and being different is frowned upon. So people end up spending loads of money, time, and energy on their kids, to make sure their kids to go to high-ranking college. The finished products are dozens of test-taking grinders, who can’t do anything but getting a good grade and excel at tests.
The Korean public education is destroyed long before, but the government is turning blind eyes. Sick and tired of the situation, the parents who can actually afford it (or have a chance to do so) send their kids abroad. Those who can’t send their kids even temporarily, even if it’s not developed countries.
It’s more of “looking good” than the quality.
Mad world, it is.