Monday, November 05, 2012

We don't envy schools with native speaking teachers

On October 15, Herald Gyeongje published the following article:
Even without a native speaker, our school is good at English

Goyang Baeksong Elementary School student cyber English education, takes note of model to replace native speakers

The most expensive part of private education is English. In public education as well the area with the greatest budget put into it is the hiring of native speaking assistant teachers for English speaking. Amid never ending controversy over the effectiveness and verification of native speaking assistant teachers, Goyang Baeksong Elementary School, which has no native speaking assistant teacher, is running a self-directed learning English study program which students and teachers can participate in, and is drawing attention as an alternative to native speakers.

The model introduced at 62 schools in Gyeonggi-do is the self-directed learning English study program 'Cyber GIFLE(Gyeonggi-do Institute for Foreign Language Education).’

At Goyang Baeksong Elementary School, which has no native speaking assistant teacher, once a week students have a cyber lesson under the guidance of a teacher in the school computer room, and four days a week they cyber study at home. Through face to face management of students by teachers at school, they can give feedback on the contents of their home study and help the students improve their English skills.

Go Eun-jeong, a teacher in charge of Cyber GIFLE explained that, "As Cyber GIFLE is being run, students themselves have confidence in their English speaking, and as there is an appreciable improvement in their reaction and concentration during class time, we don't envy schools with native speaking assistant teachers."

In particular, the word from current teachers is that Cyber GIFLE's characteristic repetitive study which drills correct-in-context integrated sentences immerses students in the fun of learning English speaking. With drilling where students think of and speak one or two sentences by themselves, it breaks the stereotype that you must have a native speaking assistant teacher to improve one's English ability.

Goyang Baeksong Elementary School's principle Shin Dong-ju said, "Cyber GIFLE is a program which, without native speaking assistant teachers, realizes English education by the education office, school and students working together, and by reducing the budget and increasing educational effectiveness, kills two birds with one stone." "With good content, the interest of parents and the effort of teachers, you can see that it's a model which strengthens public education."
I'll have to reread that, but I think that elementary school doesn't have a native speaking assistant teacher. It's not surprising this is happening in a school in Gyeonggi-do, the province which pioneered the 'massive native speaking teacher budget cut.'

The same day the above article came out, Yonhap reported (in Korean) that the education ministry planned to recruit 2,300 English speaking Korean instructors for next year, but stuck a photo of a native speaker at the top of the article, which may be why the original English version of the article (which can be see here). It subsequently corrected the English version (though perhaps the original Korean version also contained the mistake - though perhaps not, since it still has the photo of the foreign teacher).

The Joongang Ilbo later reported in more detail on the ministry's move, noting that there are currently 6,104 English speaking Korean instructors in Schools around the country, and once 2,300 more are added, there will be 8,400, which is meant to give every school access to one. It also notes that
these Korean instructors who speak English fluently will focus on revamping the English education in classes and teach from revised teaching material.  
The ministry further said it plans to revise an ordinance so that these English-speaking teachers will be able to work at the same school for up to eight years. Currently English instructors can be employed by the same school only up to four years.
These Korean instructors were first introduced to public schools in 2009, a topic Brian covered several times.

1 comment:

Christian Thurston said...

Interesting concept although I partly expected someone in the article to be quoted saying: "Now that we an online system to validate whether or not our kids are learning English we've found that they aren't making nearly as many mistakes and this makes the kids happy". One has to wonder if instead of creating mechanisms that check if the kids are learning English they're instead changing the tests to to fit what the kids can currently do.

My basic point is that a native speaker really ought to be involved at some point even if only to check that this online system is actually teaching what's important and not what the Gyeonggi education board reckons is important.