Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The native speakers are coming! The native speakers are coming!

[Update: As noted in the comments, Michael Hurt followed up on this with interesting results.]

On March 8, NoCut News and the Joongdo Ilbo teamed up to bring us this incoherent article:
'Fake' native speaking instructors descending upon Daejeon
After screening strengthened in capital area...
Unlicensed hagwons spreading

As screening of private hagwon native speaking instructors has been strengthened in the capital area (such as in Seoul and Gyeonggi-do), they are streaming into provincial cities such as Daejeon.

There is concern about the side effects of a good many of these hagwons, classes and private lessons which are operated as unregistered or illegal hagwons.

On the 7th, hagwons and parents of schoolchildren reported that recently some areas of Daejeon have seen the spread of hagwons set up as foreign language centers which claim to have second or third generation overseas Koreans or married native speaking couples from the US or Canada.

They run small scale-operations teaching from kindergarten to middle school with various English related educational activities such as authentic American curricula, graded English class progress, conversation-based question and answer classes, and short orientations for those preparing to study overseas currently in progress.

In particular, in areas like Seoul and Gyeonggi-do where well known hagwons are concentrated, there is concern that students and parents are victimized by PR made up of unconfirmed claims made about teaching in order to attract students.

Their form of management is similar to hagwons, but there are numerous instances where they are unregistered hagwons which have not been reported to the relevant education office.

For this reason, and to protect against the inflow of unfit native speaking conversation teachers, create a wholesome atmosphere for studying and of course to guarantee safe places of learning for youth, from the first of last month the Ministry of Justice began strengthening the screening of native speaking instructors.

It's [already] accepted that when native speaking instructors apply for alien registration, they submit an ‘employment physical exam’ issued by a medical institution designated by the Minister of Justice.

Therefore, after the screening was strengthened in the capital region, unfit native speaking instructors who had trouble earning money in some circumstances stretched out their legs and managed [private lessons] themselves in lax provincial areas.

Though screening for native speaking teachers working in places like hagwons has been strengthened, the dissatisfaction of hagwons is about to explode over the selection of teachers by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology or city and provincial education offices and the lax manner by which these public offices regulate the management of native speaking instructors.

While it's recognized that hagwon [instructors need] an employment physical exam issued by a medical institution designated by the Ministry of Justice, the selection of teachers under the supervision of the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology or city and provincial education offices, and native speakers working as foreign language conversation instructors in schools are exempted from medical institution [health checks].

A hagwon official said, "Already the government lashes out at hagwons as the main culprits for the ever rising private education costs, and with so many that are even unregistered and operating without permission, the market is very confused. There's concern that parents and students will suffer due to so many unverified, unfit native speaking instructors."

Jungdo Ilbo Reporter Lee Yeong-rok / In partnership with NoCut News
The first time I read the article it didn't make much sense, and re-reading it didn't improve things. A native Korean-speaker described it as "an article written by foot (발로쓴기사)," due to how sloppy, incorrect, and ungrammatical it is. It goes well beyond being poorly written, however, and into the realm of utter cluelessness. This 'reporter' has no idea what he's talking about, and seems to have scanned a few articles without reading them in order to give the appearance of substance to an otherwise weightless article.

It seems he mixed up the new nationwide drug testing regulations for E-2 visa holders (the enhanced drug test on physical exams from Ministry of Justice-designated medical facilities taking effect from February 1) and new regulations calling for Korean hagwon teachers in (apparently) only the Seoul area to submit criminal record checks (there was no information as to who made the decision or when it was being implemented). He then says that these new regulations have caused unfit native speaking instructors to head for Daejeon in droves - after only a month! The fact that he thinks that hagwon owners would criticize the "lax management" of foreign teachers hired by the Education Ministry and regional education offices speaks to his ignorance as well, considering how public schools require criminal record checks and repeat drug and HIV tests for all native speaking teachers, regardless of their visa status, while hagwon hiring standards have put three overseas Koreans wanted for murder in classrooms with children.

Of course, true threats to children's safety (like being in a classroom with a wanted murderer) pales in comparison to the perceived threat: that "parents and students will suffer due to so many unverified, unfit native speaking instructors."


Darth Babaganoosh said...

I guess calling them up and asking about the article will get you nowhere, either:

Dale's Korean Temple Adventures said...

Both great articles. Keep up the great work!!