Wednesday, October 10, 2012

40% of public school native speakers are... unqualified

I've already posted about the foreign and Korean teacher crime statistics and native speaking English teacher school placement statistics which have come to light during parliamentary inspections of government ministries.

On September 24, Newsis published an article with a familiar refrain:
4 out of 10 native speaking English assistant teachers are unqualified
   
It has come out that 4 out of 10 native speaking English assistant teachers do not have qualifications.

On the 24th, National Assembly Education, Science and Technology committee member Min Byeong-ju (Saenuri Party) revealed that according to "The status of native speaking English assistant teachers in 2012", a document submitted by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, out of 8,520 native speaking English assistant teachers, 3,671 or 43.1% do not have qualifications.

Among those with qualifications, those with TESOL, TEFL or CELTA made up 50% of the total number of teachers (4257), while those with teaching qualifications from their own countries made up only 8.7% (740).

By region, Gangwon-do had the highest rate of those without qualifications with 66.1%, followed by Jeollanam-do with 61.5% and Jeju with 57.4%.

The areas with the highest rate of qualification holders was Ulsan with 71.5%, Gyeonggi with 67.2%, Daegu with 64.6%, Incheon with 64.3%, Busan with 62.8%, and Seoul with 60.0%.

By country of origin, the U.S. had the most with 4524 people (54.0%), followed by Canada with 1302 (15.5%), the U.K. with 949 (11.3%), South Africa with 942 (11.2%), and Ireland with 270 (3.2%). 51 (0.6%) were Korean gyopos or those with dual citizenship.

There are also two Indian nationals employed on a trial basis, having come from a country where English is an official language and possessing English teacher credentials.

To be a native speaking English assistant teacher, it required that one be from one of seven countries where English is the mother tongue (United States, Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, or South Africa).  Korean gyopos must have been permanent residents in one of these countries since at least the seventh grade and lived there more than 10 years.

Rep. Min pointed out that "While they can't all be seen as unqualified teachers because they lack qualification certificates, during this time some have caused problems due to inappropriate speech or acts from time to time, and because of this we should strengthen employment standards to prevent harm from coming to students."
That last sentence started out so well.

Four hours later, Newsis published an update with a slightly softer title ("4 out of 10 native speaking English assistant teachers do not have qualifications") and two paragraphs with the Ministry of Education's viewpoint at the end (which simply reiterate the qualifications NSETs and gyopos need):
A Ministry of Education official explained in regard to this that "The requirements for native speaking English assistant teachers are that they come from countries that speak English as their first language, that they graduated from university and have have a bachelor's degree or higher qualification or its equivalent." "There are no requirements for native speaking English assistant teachers working in elementary, middle and high schools to have [teaching] licenses."
On September 25, the Chungcheong Ilbo reported on this and focused on Chungcheong province and Daejeon.
Half of native speaking English teachers are 'unqualified'
 
Out of 1179 native speaking English teachers in Chungcheong-do 548 (46.4%) do not have qualification certificates. [...] In Chungcheongbuk-do's case, among 344 NSETs, 136 have qualification certificates, while in Chungcheongnam-do, the figure is 323 (55.2%) out of 585 NSETs, and in Daejeon, among 250 NSETs, 142 (56.8%) have qualifications.
The province seems happy enough that they've just placed 4 Chinese native speakers in Chungcheong-do schools as assistant Chinese teachers. I have no idea what qualifications they require (but assume they are E-2 visas).
On September 25, the Jeju Ilbo reported on the situation in Jeju.
In Jeju, 6 out of 10 native speaking English assistant teachers have 'no qualifications'
101 out of 176 have no qualifications, and only 15 have teaching licences from their home countries
It's come out that among native speaking English assistant teachers placed in the Jeju area, almost 6 out of 10 do not have qualification certificates.

On the 24th, National Assembly Education, Science and Technology committee member Min Byeong-ju (Saenuri Party) revealed that according to "The current status of native speaking English assistant teachers' qualifications by area", a document submitted by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, as of the end of April this year, out of 176 native speaking English assistant teachers in the province, 101 or 57.4% do not have qualifications.

Among the 75 people (42.6%) with qualification certificates, 66 have TESOL, TEFL, or CELTA certificates, 15 have teaching licenses from their home countries, and 6 have both licenses and certificates.
 The solution to this problem seems simple enough: Require teachers to possess one of these certificates. That they don't suggests that the government - and much of the private sector - has always been concerned more with quantity over quality. Not that this is surprising, in Korea or anywhere else.

1 comment:

davidfrazer said...

From a British perspective this preoccupation with "unqualified" native speakers is rather strange. My brother studied French and German at university, and as part of the course he was required to do a year abroad, so he worked as an English assistant at a lycée (high school, more or less) in France.

Like probably most language assistants in schools throughout Europe, he was "unqualified" by Korean standards because he didn't yet have a degree, although he did speak fluent or near-fluent French. But as far as I know no-one in Europe complains about unqualified assistants because they are not expected to teach classes on their own. Their job is to help the professional teachers and do things they cannot do, running through conversation exercises and helping to improve student' speaking a listening abilities by exposing them to a real live native speaker.