Early study abroad (ESA) has been popular among middle/upper class Korean families who use overseas experiences for the accumulation of capital and class mobility. Following up with two graduate student families in Song (2012), this study examines these two families' post-ESA experiences from the mothers' perspectives. It attends particularly to the role of English in their children's educational trajectories and the family's class positioning against economically-privileged Gangnam families.The results demonstrate the two mothers' complex attitudes toward linguistic and class ideologies that deepen the ‘English divide’ in Korean society. While they criticized class-based inequalities surrounding English education, they themselves were content with the linguistic capital accumulated overseas for their children's competitiveness in the Korean educational context and beyond. They also realized that the increasing number of good English speakers with superior economic means deprived them of the privilege associated with the competence in English. That is, the value of competence is synergistic with other social advantages that are highly dependent on one's economic background. The results illuminate how class mediates not only the distribution, but also the return of the capital through a powerful neoliberal social order that drives Koreans to pursue the valuable capital at any cost.
System – Elsevier
Published: Apr 1, 2018
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