Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Newsis says new measures are 'urgent' after foreign teachers commit less than one crime per year in Gyeongsangbuk-do

On May 27, Newsis published the following article:
Measures to manage law-breaking by native speaking teachers in Daegu and Gyeongsangbuk-do 'urgent'

[Daegu = Newsis] Reporter Park Jun. Due to incidents involving some foreign native speaking teachers placed in schools and places of education in Daegu and Gyeongsangbuk-do occurring once again, it's been pointed out that measures are urgently needed.

In particular, as there are no measures allowing for ongoing supervision of native speaking teachers outside of the training they receive before they are placed in schools and places of education, the need for management policies has been brought up yet again.

On April 21,  'A,' a 27 year old Korean American working as a native speaking teacher at an elementary school, was arrested for robbing a convenience store in Amnyeong-myeon, Gyeongsan at knife point, threatening an employee, and stealing 600,000 won and 16 packs of cigarettes.

'A' came to Korea in August 2010 and worked as an elementary school native speaking teacher in places like Yeongdeok and Gyeongsan in Gyeongsangbuk-do as part of the TaLK program organized by the Gyeongsangbuk-do Office of Education.

The police investigation found, shockingly, that after committing the crime 'A' went to school and taught children for three days before he being arrested.

Before that, in 2007, 34 year-old 'B' and two others who worked as native speaking instructors in Gyeongsangbuk-do were caught working with forged diplomas as native speaking teachers in elementary schools.

In addition to that, in July 2010, 'C', a 56 year-old native speaking teacher working at an elementary school in Daegu, used the cleaning time at his own school to molest four sixth grade male students and then fled to the US; he was arrested for violating the special law on sexual violence.

Amid such incidents by native speaking teachers hired by offices of education, it has come out that neither the Daegu or Gyeongsangbuk-do Offices of Education have implemented special measures to supervise them, leading some to say that such measures are urgently needed.

Before they are placed in schools and places of education, they receive only four weeks of online training from the National Institute for International Education and the Daegu or Gyeongsangbuk-do Offices of Education.

Furthermore, since there is no supervision of them by the education offices after they are placed in schools, there are worries that there may be other side effects, and other loopholes in the management of native speaking teachers may come to light.

As well, since there has been absolutely no survey done of native speaking teachers' teaching evaluations and communication problems with Korean teachers, doubts are being raised about the quality of native speaking teachers' classes.

Teachers in Gyeongsangbuk-do have said, "According to government guidelines, there is a trend of increasing numbers of native speaking teachers connected with the strengthening of English education, but actually, sometimes you can't understand how it should work."

Teachers in Daegu said, "Since outside of the native speakers' classes they have absolutely no desire to help other teachers, and it's difficult for teachers to speak with native speaking teachers, it's difficult to understand how they're thinking."

Regarding this, an official at the Gyeongsangbuk-do Office of Education said, "Seeing how there are too many native speaking teachers working in this province, their supervision is completely up to the school and among the teachers it is the coordinator who does the supervising."

"Since we can't know anything at all about what they do after their school classes are finished, it's not easy to supervise them."

Currently in Gyeongsangbuk-do there are 99 TaLK scholars working as native speaking teachers. As for native speaking teachers hired by the EPIK Program there are 710 in Gyeongsangbuk-do and 485 in Daegu.

Among native speaking teachers, Americans make up the greatest number, followed by Canadians, Australians, and British.

Five cases of foreign teachers in Daegu and Gyeongsangbuk-do misbehaving over six years, out of thousands of teachers who have taught there! My god, something must be done!

First of all, it should be pointed out that the last sentence is most likely wrong. I looked at immigration statistics from June 2012 and found that there were 1,571 foreigners from the 7 English speaking countries in Daegu and 1,562 in Gyeongsangbuk-do. In the case of Gyeongsangbuk-do, 710 EPIK teachers and 99 TaLK scholars make up about 50% of the total number of foreigners from those countries (and I'd imagine many of the others are hagwon instructors). Here's a breakdown by country:
As you can see, it's rather unlikely that the number of Australians would be higher than British teachers, as is stated above, and in fact there may be more South African NSETs. Since there's no breakdown by visa, however, it's difficult to know for sure.

I also like the fact that we're told that "there has been absolutely no survey done of native speaking teachers' teaching evaluations and communication problems with Korean teachers." In that case, how does he know that 'communication' is a problem? If surveys have not found anything negative, why are "doubts being raised about the quality of native speaking teachers' classes"? Could 'negative for the sake of being negative' articles like the one above be contributing to such doubts?

I also like the quotations attributed to "Teachers in Gyeongsangbuk-do." What, a group of them sat down and answered questions in unison?

As for one of the main points, we're told that "neither the Daegu or Gyeongsangbuk-do Offices of Education have implemented special measures to supervise" foreign teachers. Unfortunately for the reporter who obviously had to update the "Woe is Korea: foreign English teacher edition" for this month, it's not true.

Before getting to Daegu's efforts in this regard, it should be mentioned that the case of the American teacher who molested grade 6 boys in Daegu in 2010 led directly to the Korean Immigration Service requiring FBI background checks, new diploma checks and expanding drug testing to include marijuana for E-2 visa applicants and E-2 visa holders. (It's probably worth mentioning that the offender was also caught in the US, extradited to Korea, and sentenced to four years in prison.)

As if that's not enough to prove that there had been an official response to at least one of the cases mentioned above, here are some initiatives taken by Daegu Office of Education.

On September 15, 2010, it was reported that foreign teachers in Daegu would receive Korean lessons (original Daegu Ilbo link dead; a similar article is here):
From the 17th the Daegu Office of Education will run an 'understanding Korean and Korean culture classroom' at the Daegu English Education Support Center every Friday afternoon from 4:30pm to 6:00pm for 134 native speaking assistant teachers.

The staff will be composed of teachers with Korean language teaching certificates and those doing a masters in Korean studies at Kiemyung university graduate school. Native speaking assistant teachers will be assigned to one of six different classes according to their level.

As of September, of 393 native speaking assistant teachers in the Daegu area, 369 teach English, 13 teach Japanese, and 11 teach Chinese.
A good idea (especially with leveled classes), but one wonders how popular the choice of a Friday evening was. On July 15, 2011, Yonhap published the following report:
Daegu Office of Education says native speaking teachers will also receive TESOL training.

On the 15th the Daegu Office of Education announced that in order to improve the quality of English instruction, TESOL training for exceptional native speaking assistant teachers will be implemented.

This summer vacation 200 elementary, middle and high school English teachers will take a TESOL course for job training, and the Office of Education will include 10 native speaking assistant teachers in this.

For 90 hours during summer vacation and 90 hours during winter vacation, these native speaking assistant teachers will learn about the latest educational theory and specialized teaching together with Korean English teachers.

According to the education office, "Native speaking teachers’ English ability is outstanding, but their teaching method can be lacking, so this TESOL training will be implemented."
So much for suggesting that "neither the Daegu or Gyeongsangbuk-do Offices of Education have implemented special measures to supervise" foreign teachers. On the other hand, maybe that's not what these people have in mind when it comes to supervision/management of foreign teachers.

Perhaps, "since [officials] can't know anything at all about what [native speakers] do after their school classes are finished," affixing the same kind of ankle bracelets that sex offenders wear might solve this problem?

1 comment:

Zackary Downey said...

Let me know when we're being caught masturbating in the hallways.