North and South Koreans Equally Suck at TOEFL
“Frenzy,” “obsession,” and “unhealthy” are just some of the adjective used to describe South Korea’s English-learning pastime. The average South Korean studies “the international language” for four hours a day for ten years. South Koreans invest billions of dollars each year in private educational institutions and test-prep classes. But does all this pay off?
Well, discussing South Korea’s version of the proverbial American French-language-student-who-goes-to-Marsaille-and-can’t-even-order-an-orange-juice-in French is for another day and another blog. Though, it should be noted that despite South Koreans’ best efforts, they score no better than their northern kin. Radio Free Asia, via Chosun Ilbo, reports that the average TOEFL score for South Koreans is 72 out of 120. For North Koreans, the average score is 69 out of 120. The reason for the similarity has nothing to do with the negative effects of hiring unqualified ex-junkies, the chronically unskilled, social misfits, and folklore-and-mythology majors to teach English-language kindergarten. Instead, it is
mainly because North Korean applicants are mostly from the elite, like students studying abroad or staff of the Foreign Ministry.