* (June 15, 2009) Not enough applicants for those "English lecturer" jobs.
* (March 30, 2009) 5,000 Korean English teachers being recruited to replace us.
* (November 21, 2008) 4,000 "English Lecturers" coming in 2010.
* (October 6, 2008) More money going into English education next year.
Though some reporters have cast this as a way to replace native speaker English teachers, I've viewed this as a way to supplement schools' English programs, since in some cases schools don't even have an English teacher at all. Moreover, Korean English teachers in schools now are largely unprepared to teach English conversation or English in English, hence the need to hire proficient lecturers. Nonetheless the Korea Times' Kang Shin-who quoted a Ministry of Education official in March:
``Foreign native English speakers cannot teach students without Korean teachers, but the newly recruited teachers can teach on their own. We expect these instructors will replace foreign teachers over the long term,'' Euh added.
I went to work on that quotation in an earlier post, but suffice it to say here that native speaker English teachers will tell you they routinely do teach on their own because Korean teachers don't show up to class or don't participate.
The papers have often used the word "lecturers" because these new hires don't need to have teaching certificates. That has, of course, brought in talk about "unqualified" teachers. Regarding the introduction of "Teaching English in English" (TEE) teachers, the largest teachers' group in the country was against the idea, says the Times:
Meanwhile, more than half of English teachers are opposing the introduction of ``Teaching English in English (TEE)’’ teachers, planned by the government for next year. The government plans to recruit 23,000 TEE teachers, who will conduct classes only in English, over the next five years.
Korea’s largest teachers group, the Korean Federation of Teachers’ Association said Sunday that 56.7 percent of English teachers negatively responded to the TEE teacher plans in a recent survey, while 24.9 percent said they need TEE teachers.
Among those respondents against ``English-only'' teachers, 46 percent said it would bring unqualified teachers to schools and 21 percent said current teacher levels are already enough for English education. The teachers' group questioned 425 English teachers at elementary and secondary schools nationwide between April and May.
Talking about "unqualified" teachers, whether NSETs or Koreans, always leads to a discussion about what "qualified" and "unqualified" actually mean: is a Korean English teacher who can't use English "qualified" by virtue of a paper, and is a Korean English teacher proficient in English thereby "unqualified" if s/he lacks it?
Looking at the opposition to importing native speaker English teachers and to hiring Koreans proficient in English, one wonders how, exactly, they expect to teach spoken English, if that's even a real goal at all. An answer that keeps coming up is to provide more training opportunities to current teachers, though I've heard from NSETs that teacher-training in Korea is a charade, and I've heard from Korean English teachers that though they enjoy the sessions, the things they learn aren't practical for them. I'll quote a bit from my post on Monday on the cost of native speaker English teachers, looking here at why Korean coworkers found the mandatory intensive training sessions not useful:
1) Their students aren't interested in speaking English.
2) Their students' English levels aren't good enough to understand spoken English.
3) The activities they learned in Damyang can't be applied to large class sizes like those in public schools.
4) Teachers must follow and complete the textbooks and teach toward standardized tests, and don't have time to waste on speaking English.
Before you talk about hiring or replacing native speakers, or about enlisting thousands of uncertified Koreans to teach English conversation, you first have to check and see whether the system is built to handle it. Is there anything to suggest that Korean English "lecturers" will be more effective in public schools than native English speakers? My semi-educated guess tells me they'll be more prone to overuse Korean in class, will be treated with less respect in the teachers' office, and will be less competent at speaking English than is imagined.
* Not new in Jeollanam-do, either. The Jeollanam-do Office of Education is also recruiting Koreans to teach English conversation, and most recently posted an ad on November 17th.