I love this flowchart from waegukin.com!
I have spent the last few years formally and informally reading through blogs written by sojourning English language teachers with nearly half of them writing from/about Korea. I love this flowchart because it covers several of my personal and professional interests: English language teaching, blogging, intercultural competence, and Korea. It also combines blogging tips with cultural sensitivity tips.
At the top of the flowchart are two general blogging tips: stay on topic, have something unique or original to stay or contribute to the conversation about the topic. I haven’t mastered it yet, but I believe successful blogging means interacting with others who are interested in or are experts in the subject matter, in this case Korean culture (traveling, language, food, etc). Some people, like me, blog as writing practice or as a public diary with the very low probability of being “discovered.” I am and I believe many people are somewhere between these two types of blogging.
Cultural Sensitivity Tips
The rest of the flowchart covers cultural sensitivity summarized by the last question, “Does [my blog post] require a deeper cultural knowledge than I possess?” I think this is an important question for reflection, and in most cases the answer will be “yes.” I disagree that one needs to study more in all uncertain cases. Sometimes blogging is a good way to reach out when you are aware that you need more cultural knowledge that cannot be learned from books or from the immediate vicinity of your home or workplace. If you’re really serious about deeper cultural knowledge about Korea, then you’re on your way to becoming a sociocultural anthropologist.
All the rest of the tips cover other areas in cultural sensitivity/competence/intelligence:
- Is my contribution something more than the unwelcome thoughts of white/male/native English speaker? – The blogger must check his (sometimes her) privileges before blogging unless the goal is to unwittingly expose the ignorance of the privileged.
- Is it about a “a problem with Korea?” and Is my solution “Korea should be more like my country?” – The first question addresses the discourse of colonialism, imperialism, or orientalism. The second question is blatant ethnocentrism and/or nationalism.
- Do I talk a lot about Confucianism? and Do I actually know the history and principles of Confucian though in Korea? – For me, this was the key to better understanding much (but not all) of Korean culture. It’s kind of a gatekeeper to a deeper understanding of Korean for those unfamiliar with the culture.
- Do I need to speak much better Korean than I currently do to properly understand this topic? – Here’s some linguistic relativity where to better understand the culture, one should better understand the language. And vice-versa.
Blogs often oversimplify things. It’s better to study more. I hope Waegukin’s flowchart helps other sojourning ELTs to study more to become better bloggers and more informed and culturally sensitive residents of Korea.