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A chicken in every pot, a round-eye in every classroom

So, Koreans may have expressed preference for Korean teachers, and Seoul Office of Education seemed pretty intent on getting rid of their native speaking English teachers, but the Education Ministry apparently wants to put a native speaker in every school by next year:

The education ministry said Monday it will recruit 2,300 more native-speaking English teachers for the country’s primary and secondary schools next year so that each school will have at least one in line with the ministry’s emphasis of the new school curriculum on practical English usage.

To revamp public English education and reduce spending on private learning, the ministry has been hiring qualified native English instructors for elementary, middle and high schools to assist Korean teachers in classrooms since September 2009.

For those keeping score at home, only 73% of Korean elementary, middle and high schools have native speakers (84% of elementary schools, 61% of middle and high schools).

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  • Creo69

    As long as the economy is decent, I still say this is a good program. Even if a “native” instructor is not as effective as a Korean teacher (not saying I believe this is always the case) young Koreans need daily exposure and interaction with people from other cultures and they need it from a young age.

    That said, this program could be vastly improved by making some adjustments to the screening process of applicants. Way to0 many people who are just looking for a paycheck still manage to creep in and considering this is a very decent paying job with good benefits this should not be the case.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Creo69,

    I just hope many of these native English speakers are understanding of their hosts and don’t bad mouth them from behind via the internetz, like many of them are wanton to do.

  • Creo69

    “I just hope many of these native English speakers are understanding of their hosts and don’t bad mouth them from behind via the internetz, like many of them are wanton to do.”

    Honestly, your comment is so broad that I am not sure what it even means. Could you clarify? Are you saying that foreigners working in Korea have no right to make statements about their host country or employer if it is not favorable?

    “Bad mouth?” How exactly do you define that? Someone doesn’t like Kimchi and writes about it on the Internet? Someone who has been sexually harassed by a Korean in the workplace and writes about it on the Internet?

    I am not going to put words in your mouth so why don’t you do a little better job of defining exactly what you are “hoping” for.

    In my opinion foreigners who work in Korea complain about many different things. Some of it is justified and some of it is not. Some of those complaints have changed Korea for the better. Some of those complaints need to grow louder (for instance, complaints against the continued screening of foreign teachers for HIV when even Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says this is a discriminatory policy which needs to be done away with).

  • brier

    The JoongAng acrticle in today’s paper states that the Education Misistry plans to hire 2,300 Korean teachers of English. Link here: http://bit.ly/RvSy9j

  • keith

    They need to make their minds up. Do they want native speakers in the schools or not?

    I’ve worked in public and private schools and the biggest problems are really with lack of organisation, lack of efficient management, inability to manage and communicate with the native teachers, way too many kids in the class. A lot of the books they choose are truly awful as well.

    There are many legitimate complaints that native teachers can make about their jobs, there are also some whiners who haven’t done a days work in their lives and will complain about anything and everything. One thing that I’d say is a more than legitimate complaint is the practice of making the native teachers do ‘desk warming’, it really is pointless for the native teachers to sit in a freezing cold office during the winter holidays when all the students and all the Korean teachers are at home or on vacation enjoying themselves! If there is work to do during ‘vacation’ time I can do it more efficiently at home. My home office is far better kitted out than any teachers’ office I’ve ever worked in, and I can decide how cold or warm I want to be there!

    Another issue is salaries. Teaching is underpaid, for how many times we’re told that Koreans really value education it is suprising how little money teachers get paid in the public sector

    Teaching is not an easy job and a decent amount of vacation to recharge one’s batteries should be a part of the package. I mostly work for myself these days so those days are over for me.

  • Creo69

    “Another issue is salaries. Teaching is underpaid, for how many times we’re told that Koreans really value education it is suprising how little money teachers get paid in the public sector”

    Korean teachers are some of the best paid in the world. As far as foreign teachers, Koreans are paying what the market dictates for the what they are looking for. In some cases they are getting certified teachers from other countries for a bargain price. In some cases they are getting an expensive baby sitter. How it balances out nobody is probably sure as most foreign teachers don’t do this gig long enough to determine much of anything.

    As I see it, the sky is still the limit for teaching in Korea for a foreigner. Once you get tired of teaching at an institute or a public school, you start your own institute and move up. The ONLY things that limits a person’s earning potential are their motivation and ability. Many foreigners (including a personal friend of mine who now has two institutes and a university teaching job) have started their own businesses in Korea and make very good money.

  • http://populargusts.blogspot.com/ bulgasari

    This had me scratching my head until I read the Yonhap article. Robert, that’s a misleading photo (of a 원어민) at the top – 영어회화 강사 refers to Korean English conversation teachers. (Brier’s link also points that out.) I wouldn’t be surprised, considering the photo, if the editor thought the same thing…

  • keith

    Creo that is good to hear. I’ve just started my own thing and it certainly has potential to be successful, as most of our local competitors are a bit of a joke.

    I was talking about salaries for native teachers rather than Koreans. There is no reward for experience or qualifications when it comes to working in the public sector for non Koreans. Koreans do well out of that system expats, not so well.

    It’s the reason I moved on and started my own thing.

  • topcat

    Robert,
    The national desk head just spoke to the Ministry who clarified this as seeking English-speaking Korean instructors – it’s not open to round eyes unless they have South Korean citizenship

  • topcat

    ^^ that’s Tracie, btw

  • brier

    @Creo96

    The only things that limits a person’s earning potential are their motivation and ability……… AND their visa status which limits what they can do. How many E2 holders have opened their own institues without the help of a local business partner or wife/husband?

  • Creo69

    “The only things that limits a person’s earning potential are their motivation and ability……… AND their visa status which limits what they can do. How many E2 holders have opened their own institues without the help of a local business partner or wife/husband?”

    One of the most successful foreign entrepreneurs I know personally in South Korea is gay and started out as an English teacher. He certainly didn’t have the benefit of the correct visa (in the beginning) you believe to be essential to success in Korea. He did however have the ability to make friends with Koreans, which really isn’t all that difficult. Through his friendship he proved himself to be of value and a business relationship (highly successful for both parties) was born. My guess is he did what he felt he had to do until he could afford an investor’s visa.

    My other friend, who owns the two institutes, did marry a Korean woman. He did things a bit more by the book.

    It can be done by anyone however. Both these guys encountered obstacles, much greater than the correct visa, along the way. The difference is they didn’t make excuses and give up.

  • http://www.chinasmack.com/tag/funny/page/3 Jakgani

    Korean teachers are some of the best paid in the world.

    That was a joke wasn’t it?

    Korean Public school teachers are paid 2 million ~ 2.6 million (the latter with years of experience) per month.

    Thats USD $1,800 ~ $2,348 per month.

    That is extremely low – and foreign teachers are paid about the same.

    Yep, they get bonuses but the bonuses aren’t much either.

    $50 bonus for Chuseok… $2000 bonus at the end of the year.

    My sister is a Public school teacher in Australia and gets paid $4,000 per month AFTER tax. (net)

  • Creo69

    “That was a joke wasn’t it?

    Korean Public school teachers are paid 2 million ~ 2.6 million (the latter with years of experience) per month.

    Thats USD $1,800 ~ $2,348 per month.”

    Where do you get your numbers from? Just a quick Google search pulled up a website stating “Lower secondary teachers can expect a mid-career salary of $52,699, much higher than the OECD average of $41,701.”

    (see the link at the bottom of this post)

    I worked in a public school for two years. I never was rude enough to ask any of the Korean teachers what they made but they all owned apartments and had nice, new cars. Personally, I just don’t see how they could afford it on the numbers you present. The head teacher at my school drove a BMW. Of course his wife could be loaded.

    I am sure there is someone on this site that can present numbers from a reputable Korean site if I am wrong. Possibly, you are referring to the younger Korean teachers? Many of them are not much more of “teachers” than we are. They are there on a year to year contract and are still studying to pass the exam. About 30%-40% of the teachers at my high school were in this classification. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised at all if they made around the same as me. They weren’t any more certified than I was.

    http://www.ncee.org/programs-affiliates/center-on-international-education-benchmarking/top-performing-countries/south-korea-overview/south-korea-teacher-and-principal-quality/

  • Creo69

    And no, I was not referring to the younger teachers as all owning apartments and cars…as I said, they were not even certified yet.

  • Creo69

    Hmm…starting to see how that head teacher could afford his BMW…

    “Teacher salaries are substantially above-average.
     Korea provides comparatively high teacher salaries
    with steep increases for more experienced teachers. At
    USD 52 666 for a primary school teacher with
    minimum training and 15 years of experience, Korea
    comes 2nd among OECD countries, while salaries at
    the top of the scale reach 84 263 USD, second only to
    Luxembourg (Table D3.1). ”

    http://www.oecd.org/education/highereducationandadultlearning/41277858.pdf

  • SomeguyinKorea

    #16,

    What those numbers don’t say his how many kickbacks the teachers have to pay to the school principal in order to keep their jobs or not be transferred to some backwoods schools. I know one school teacher who quit because he was fed up about it.

  • Creo69

    “What those numbers don’t say his how many kickbacks the teachers have to pay to the school principal in order to keep their jobs or not be transferred to some backwoods schools. I know one school teacher who quit because he was fed up about it.”

    In my opinion, the majority of Koreans are all equally to blame for the system they have in place. If they aren’t a direct part of it, they don’t stand up against it because it will mean money out of their pockets to take a stand.

    I commend the teacher you worked with, he is a jewel.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    Didn’t work with him. He’s a friend.

  • CactusMcHarris

    #19,

    You’re blessed with such a friend – he’s a bird of a different colour. I wonder how many other customs like this have been imported from China.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    #18 Creo69: “In my opinion, the majority of Koreans are all equally to blame for the system they have in place. If they aren’t a direct part of it, they don’t stand up against it because it….”

    Absolutely. For the most part, Korea is a country of sheep …and the remainder Greek sheep herders.

  • Yu Bum Suk

    “I just hope many of these native English speakers are understanding of their hosts and don’t bad mouth them from behind via the internetz, like many of them are wanton to do.”

    WK, teachers on every teaching-related forum on the Internet whine and complain about their schools, coworkers, and students. The only difference is that here they’re complaining about Koreans, which can look like bad-mouthing their ‘hosts’. While this can come across as ingratitude, and sometimes is just that, criticism of the system is going to be a necessary part of any improvement.

    Re: teacher salaries – senior, tenured Korean PS teachers are amongst the best paid in the world while contract Korean PS teachers hardly make enough to support a family. This is not different from many other parts of the world. The irony, of course, is that while some senior
    English teachers are great, many clearly lack language competency, whilst many junior teachers are far more fluent. As I wrote the last time this issue came up, most highly bilingual Koreans with a degree can get a better job than starting out as a contract teacher making 2.0 a month, and if they do it’s likely not their first choice for a job.

    In any event, the government clearly needs to get over its schizophrenia when it comes to NETs. First, they can’t decide what we actually are: they keep insisting on the term assistant when many of us teach almost all our lessons solo and school administrations often consider the contract Korean teachers to be our assistants. Secondly, there is no role for us in the government curriculum whatsoever: the textbooks, including the latest editions just out, delineate no role at all. Even now that they’ve taken the Korean out of the books they’re all written mostly by and entirely for Korean teachers. Thirdly, there’s no role at all for formal assessment by native speakers in a system that’s entirely driven by and motivated towards formal assessment.

    In the end, the government would be far better off hiring 2,300 native-speaking markers to grade students on their ability to produce English in oral and written form. The vast majority of Korean teachers would loath it, but it’s the only thing that would ever force them to teach useful English.