Did you know that ACG Parnell College was Jennie Blackpink’s school when the reigning East Asian pop culture queen was in New Zealand as a teenager?
Jennie Blackpink joined ACG Parnell College after graduating middle school at Waikowhai Intermediate School.
ACG Parnell College is an independent, co-educational school that offers Cambridge A Levels and the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma. Students can complete their entire education from preschool to Year 13 here before proceeding to higher education.
Located in Auckland, it allows students to experience both urban city life as well as its green spaces. The school has extensive views of the Waitemata Harbour and is adjacent to the Domain, Auckland’s upmarket suburb of Parnell.
Principal Damian Watson said, “Parnell College welcomes international students seeking to study at a premier academic college in New Zealand. Our academic focus and programme of English support allows outstanding success for students, enabling applications to national and international universities.”
International students like Jennie Blackpink are under the care of international deans. Their duty is to make sure international students adapt to New Zealand school life and that their wellbeing is ensured.
According to its website, around 4,700 students from around the world enrol at ACG schools each year.
New international students can sign up for an Intensive English Language programme if they need help with their English language. Once they are more competent, they will take on more mainstream subjects.
Jennie Blackpink’s school and first TV debut?
Jennie and Rose stand out as Blackpink members who are fluent in English. According to Education First’s English Proficiency Index, South Korea is ranked 37th out of 100 countries and is sixth in Asia, ahead of China and Vietnam but behind Malaysia and Singapore. English proficiency here is “moderate”.
K-pop news site Koreaboo reported that Jennie was part of “English, Must Change to Survive” — a show depicting English education for Koreans in multiple countries — while she was in New Zealand.
“At first my friends helped me and shared their notes with me. Now, I’m more comfortable with English than I used to be,” said Jennie.
The 24-year-old Korean speaks Japanese too.
Diversity in schools
Studies have found that going to a diverse school can be challenging. Teachers may be biased or have lowered expectations, stereotyping and discrimination against pupils based on the way they talk. If students internalise such messages, they can develop “linguistic insecurity,” a term coined by linguist William Labov which means anxiety or lack of confidence experienced by speakers and writers who believe that their use of language does not conform to the principles and practices of standard English.
There are, however, studies that show diversity in classrooms benefits students beyond Jennie Blackpink’s fluency in multiple languages.
One 2016 study from Teachers College concluded that diverse public schools led to “a strong positive academic and social impact on all students”. The report provides evidence for the beneficial effects of integration in education, such as deeper learning, enhanced creativity and motivation as well as sharper critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Min Seok Kim, from Auckland University’s K-pop club, believes Jennie and Rose’s English language skills and international upbringing could be the reasons behind their successful foray into international markets.
Speaking to RNZ, Kim said, “A lot of K-pop groups tend not to be good at English, cannot really go into global fields because of lack of language.
“But for two of the members … have grown up in a Western culture where they are used to English, it’s easier for them to interact with other people’s English.”
Born in Anyang, a satellite city of Seoul, Jennie Blackpink moved to Auckland, New Zealand where she spent her formative years. She then returned to South Korea to attend high school as well as singing and dancing lessons before joining Blackpink.