‘아버지여, 안녕’ ~ 기러기 가정 자녀들의 조기 유학

FOR STUDIES IN ENGLISH, KOREANS LEARN TO SAY GOODBYE TO POP
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By NORIMITSU ONISHI c.2008 New York Times News Service AUCKLAND, New Zealand -- On a sunny afternoon recently, half a dozen South Korean mothers came to pick up their children at the Remuera Primary School here, greeting one another warmly in a schoolyard filled with New Zealanders. 오클랜드 (뉴질랜드) – 얼마 전의 어느 맑게 갠 오후의 일이다. 대여섯 명의 한국 어머니들이 이곳의 Remuera (레무에라) 초등학교에 다니는 아이들을 집으로 데려가려고 모여들었다. 그들은 서로 반갑게 인사를 나누었다. 학교 마당은 뉴질랜드 사람들로 가득 차 있었다. The mothers, members of the largest group of foreigners at the public school, were part of what are known in South Korea as "wild geese," families living separately, sometimes for years, to school their children in English-speaking countries like New Zealand and the United States. The mothers and children live overseas while the fathers live and work in South Korea, flying over to visit a couple of times a year. 이 어머니들은 이 공립학교에 다니는 자녀들을 가진 외국인들 중 가장 큰 그룹을 이루고 있다. 이들은 한국에서 말하는 “기러기” 가족에 속한다. 기러기 가족이란 자녀들을 뉴질랜드나 미국 같은 영어 사용 국가들에서 교육받게 하기 위해서 때로는 여러 해 동안 떨어져서 사는 가족을 말한다. 어머니들과 자녀들은 해외에서 사는 동안 아버지들은 한국에 남아서 직장에 다닌다. 아버지들은 1 년에 두어 번 방문 차 날아온다. Driven by a shared dissatisfaction with South Korea's rigid educational system, parents in rapidly expanding numbers are seeking to give their children an edge by helping them become fluent in English while sparing them, and themselves, the stress of South Korea's notorious educational pressure cooker. More than 40,000 South Korean schoolchildren are believed to be living outside South Korea with their mothers in what experts say is an outgrowth of a new era of globalized education. The phenomenon is the first time that South Korean parents' famous focus on education has split wives from husbands and children from fathers. It has also upended traditional migration patterns by which men went overseas temporarily while their wives and children stayed home, straining marriages and the Confucian ideal of the traditional Korean family. The cost of maintaining two households has stretched family budgets since most wives cannot work outside South Korea because of visa restrictions. South Koreans now make up the largest group of foreign students in the United States (more than 103,000) and the second largest in New Zealand after Chinese students, according to American and New Zealand government statistics. Yet, unlike other foreign students, South Koreans tend to go overseas starting in elementary school -- in the belief that they will absorb English more easily at that age. South Korean students routinely score at the top in international academic tests. But unhappiness over education's financial and psychological costs is so widespread that it is often cited as a reason for the country's low birthrate, which, at 1.26 in 2007, was one of the world's lowest. South Korean parents say that the schools are failing to teach not only English but also other skills crucial in an era of globalization, like creative thinking. That resonates among South Koreans whose economy has slowed after decades of high growth and who believe they are increasingly being squeezed between the larger economies of Japan and China. (ⓒ 2008 The New York Times) (ⓒ 2008 usabriefing.net)
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