Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts




Andrew Walsh

Second Advisor

Sherrie Larkin


This thesis is the outcome of four months of multi-sited ethnographic research conducted in Canada and South Korea. It is my thesis that two beliefs, one held by Koreans and the other by foreign English instructors, maintain the English language industry in South Korea. South Koreans, I will show, believe that education, and specifically English, grants an individual and his or her family status. This belief, I argue, ensures a steady demand for English language instructors in the country. It is not only the desire to fill this demand, however, that motivates native English speakers to travel to South Korea. In fact, many native English speakers who migrate to South Korea believe that teaching English will provide a cultural immersion experience that will take them deep into Korean culture. However, this expectation is often not met. What foreign English teachers discover is that relationships between foreign English educators and Koreans have a complex history in this context. As a result of the ambivalence that often characterizes Korean and foreign English teachers’ relationships, native English speakers often end up in a community of fellow ‘foreigners.’



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