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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Selling English in South Korea : the marketing of English and uses of foreigners in the English as a foreign language industry DeChamplain, Jessica


This thesis examines the private English as a Foreign Language (EFL) industry in the Republic of Korea, herein called South Korea, focusing on the messages that are conveyed about the English language through hagwon advertisements and the roles and positioning of foreign (non-Korean) teachers within hagwons. I analyse the messages contained within various forms of marketing to discuss the discourses that surround the English language, foreign so-called native English speaker teachers (NESTs), and the ability of Koreans to learn the English language well, or not. This thesis discusses issues associated with the native/non-native speaker dichotomy, the native speaker fallacy, and the global spread of the English language as it pertains to the South Korean market that is incredibly education-focused and test-based, where parents and students are always seeking opportunities for social mobility. In particular, I examine how stereotypes associated with native English-speaking teachers (NESTs) and non-native English-speaking teachers (NNESTs) shape the discourses and advertising choices of hagwons. I argue that specific choices are made in advertising depending on the target age of students, and that these choices will include foreign teachers only when those involved in creating such advertisements wish to reference the positive discourses attached to them. There is also a strong association in South Korea that persists between race and language learning ability, which has long been disproven by anthropologists but is nonetheless seemingly perpetuated by marketing that continues to reference it. Finally, I explore possibilities for the future in an industry that has seen significant changes in the preceding decades, taking into account declining birth rates and increasing the English language knowledge of South Koreans.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International