Talking about talking about teaching (Volume II.)

As part of my (sporadic) ongoing series on “How we talk about teaching” I’d like to offer up my (made up but sadly influenced by reality) version of how I see lots of Facebook conversations develop on teaching related groups here in Korea. Here is a preview:

another flame war

If you’d like to see the rest of the conversation please click here. I believe you really *should click on the conversation because otherwise this post will not make much sense. Here is the link again. Go ahead and click it. I used the pretty fun and relatively user friendly along with my memory and imagination to create the conversation.

I wonder if any of characters, discussion styles, or topics here seem familiar to readers.
I also wonder if anything here seems specific to Korea and certain (non-#KELTchat) group in Korea. Does this happen on teaching related groups outside of Korea? I assume it does but something here seems very “foreign teachers in Korea” to me.
Finally, I wonder what I missed (aside from criticizing Korean teachers and mentioning Hitler). Comments and questions very welcome.


  1. alexcase

    I’ve taught in 8 countries, and I must say that I got the impression that the Korea boards were a bit worse than most, as seen with the more than normal restrictions on the Dave’s ESL Cafe Korea pages (the last time I looked, many years ago). Perhaps the only ones I’ve seen which are as bad as Korea are the Gulf ones, which makes me think that in both cases it might be a lot of people who are only there for the money and use the boards as a free way of letting off steam before they can collect their next cheque and (eventually, maybe) escaping the whole thing.

    • mikecorea

      Thanks Alex! Nice insights here. Funny you mentioned Dave’s ESL cafe, as I actually haven’t seen the discussion boards on there in ages. They were tough for sure. Maybe lots of this migrated to Facebook, I don’t know.

      I think you make a very interesting point about Korea and the Gulf having some similarities. I always think a major difference between the “EFL scene” in Korea and Japan is (or more likely was) that so many people wanted to be in Japan but so many people just ended up in Korea. Your point about the money and eventual escape is a good one. The other thought that comes to mind is that when there are a lot of “cowboys” and others not really interested in teaching filing it become much easier to villify the backpacker and non professional people. I say easier but I I think I mean, “people might more often feel the need to distinguish themselves from those they don’t deem as professional or worthy as themselves.’ I should stop here before I say too much. 😉

      Thanks again for the thoughts.

      On Tue, May 12, 2015 at 1:37 PM, ELT Rants, Reviews, and Reflections wrote:


  2. jdslagoski

    As someone who’s interested in professional learning networks for English language teachers, I’m often turned off by many of the comments you portrayed in your discussion thread spoof. There may be a few personality types that jeopardize the collegiality of these PLNs or discussion forums. One type that I feel certain about is the ELT troll. Nearly every unmoderated community has at least one.

    Another type is the grumpy expat personality. I’ve taught overseas for a while and I’ve learned to avoid the “misery loves company” expats. My theory is that people with that type of tendency are never really happy anywhere. A different take on this is the “ugly American” expat described as having high self-confidence, low interpersonal skills, low attributional skills, and as someone who engages in inappropriate behavior (Mendenhall & Oddou, 1986). As an American, I like to distance myself from the nomenclature, but I’m sure, as a collective, Americans can take pride in it.

    Reference: Mendenhall, M., & Oddou, G. (1986). Acculturation profiles of expatriate managers: Implications for cross-cultural training programs. Columbia Journal of World Business, 21, 73-79

    • mikecorea

      Thanks very much for sharing your thoughts here (and I really enjoyed your blog post too!) In fact, I am just about to talk about it with a friend in person right now!

      I am thinking about the idea of avoiding the “misery loves company” types and I think this is a great step. I also agree a lot of times someone’s unhappiness doesn’t have too much to do with the location.

      Thanks again for commenting and for the post!

  3. Pingback: Categorizing Sojourners (and English Language Learners) | Sojourning English Language Teachers
  4. laurasoracco

    This is brilliant and hilarious, Mike! Sadly, looks just like a real discussion. I’ve witnessed a lot of making fun of students (in face2face contexts) because of the mistakes they make, because “they don’t care to study”, or just “don’t learn.” The judgmental tone is veiled in live conversations, but the desire to just pile up on what’s wrong instead of brainstorming solutions is strong. But then again, trying something new out and being afraid of failing are challenges for us teachers. Fear of being judged and failing can make us lazy.

    • mikecorea

      Hi Laura,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I am glad you found it funny. To be honest, I hadn’t even really considered the similarities between this and face to face conversations. I think the criticizing of students is a really interesting one. Of course I have done similar but it also surprises me to see/hear the types of things that teachers say about students. Especially when it seems the criticisms could be reflected back to the teacher. Students not caring to study or simply not learning might possibly have something to do with the teacher, I’d suggest.

      Thanks very much for the comments and food for thought.

  5. careymicaela

    Hi Mike,

    I’m catching up on a ton of reading that I haven’t been able to do during the school year so I’ve just come across this post now. It looks like a really interesting ‘fakeconvo’ but I can’t get either of the links to work. Are they no longer available? I know you’re busy but when you get a chance, could you check on the links? No rush- I have all summer to keep reading! 🙂 Thanks.

    • mikecorea

      Hello Micaela!
      Thanks very much for the interest. I wondered if the links expired but I was able to check it here and it works for me. I wonder if it might be blocked in Spain or something? In any case, I have just emailed you with it. Thanks for the interest! 🙂

      • careymicaela

        Thanks so much for sending me the fakeconvo by email. I thoroughly enjoyed it! Creative and witty on oh so many levels. I’ve just checked the links again and, of course, they work for me now. May have been a problem with my internet connection or server earlier (??). Anyway, thanks again for taking the time. I really appreciate it!

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