As it is time for a new semester to begin, the arrival of new foreign teachers to teach in schools around the country has led to several articles about them. Most of these are either neutral or vaguely positive, as many articles about foreign teachers are. In many cases, when talking about the procurement or placement rates of foreign teachers you could switch 'native speaking teacher' for 'touch screen monitors' and there wouldn't be an appreciable difference in the article.
On August 21, Yonhap looked at Fullbright native speaking teacher Sonia Kim, the first native speaking teacher to work at Hanvit School for the Blind in Seoul's Gangbuk-gu, who said she wanted to teach there to learn about her parent's culture and language from the students. The title of the Hanguk Ilbo's article on the topic focused more on her being from an 'ivy league' school (Brown).
On August 23 Newsis looked at several different sets of statistics which were released that day. One such statistic was the average number of students per (public school) native speaking teacher across the country, with Gwangju having the highest figure (one per 1362 students) figure, 2.7 times higher than the lowest, Chungcheongnam-do (one per 501 students), according to material submitted by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to GNP Rep. Kim Seon-dong.
Those districts with the best ratios are as follows:
By type of school, elementary schools in Gwangju had 1180 students per teacher, while those in Jeju had 373 per teacher, followed by Chungcheongnam-do (397), Gyeongsangbuk-do (538), Gangwon-do (487), Jeollanam-do (520), Busan (527), Seoul (594), Jeollabuk-do (808), and Incheon (855).
For middle schools, Incheon (1041) and Gwangju (1026) had the highest figures, while Gangwon-do (377), Gyeongsangbuk-do (543) and Jeollanam-do (548) had the lowest.
For high schools, Chungcheonnam-do had the lowest (745) followed by Gyeongsangbuk-do (779), Gangwon-do (856), Jeollanam-do (965), Seoul (1175), and Jeollabuk-do (1303), with Ulsan (4722), Chungcheongbuk-do (4045) and Gwangju (3240) at the other end of the scale.
As for the placement rate for native speaking teachers in schools, Jeju leads with 100% placement, followed by Daegu (99.30%), Seoul (95.40%), Chungcheongnam-do (93.23%), Gyeongsangbuk-do (92.74%), Daejeon (90.31%), Gangwon (89.42%), Busan (87.36%), Gwangju (87.33%), Gyeonggi-do (86.96%), Jeollanam-do (80.75%), Ulsan (80.17%, Chungcheongbuk-do (78.27%), Incheon (72.97%, Jeollabuk-do (69.62%), and Gyeongsangnam-do (65.83%).
The placement rate of excellent native speaking teachers (based on experience and schooling) at the '1+ and 1 (pay) levels' was Gyeongsangnam-do at 41.6%, Gwangju at 40%, Jeollanam-do at 33.2%, Jeollabuk-do at 30.2%, Gangwon-do at 24.1%, Seoul at 17%, Chungcheongbuk-do at 16%, Daegu at 14.5%, and Gyeongsangbuk-do at 11.7%.
Rep. Kim said that "The native speaking English assistant teacher system was introduced into public education 17 years ago but their is a very large number of students per teacher." "The city and provincial education superintendents should ask the education ministry to actively recruit [more teachers]."
Maeil Sinmun provides some charts to illustrate the figures for placement rates and percentage of Level 1 and 1+ teachers, which also reveal that these statistics date from April of this year (click to enlarge):
Interesting that Gyeongsangnam-do has the lowest placement rate but the highest number (40%!) of level 1 or 1+ teachers). At any rate, I love the illustrations:
Regarding the percentage of level 1 or 1+ teachers, Daejeon City Journal complains about Daejeon being at the very bottom of this list (at 2 percent for 1+ level alone) and provides a partial chart with statistics, while more stats can be found in this Yonhap article talking about how low Ulsan's rating was (second from bottom) when combining both 1+ and 1 levels. It also quotes an Ulsan education official: "Because all native speaking English assistant teachers are qualified to teach students we don't think it's really necessary to have level 1 teachers." "There are many level 2 or 3 teachers teaching students in Ulsan, but there are no problems."
On August 23 CNB News reported that Daegu would hire an additional 118 native speaking teachers on the 26th which would result in a total of 504 teachers, giving them, it said, the 'highest placement rate among 7 cities.' Their ratio of students to teachers dropped from 1533 per teacher last year to 631 this year, indicating a massive hiring effort on the part of the Daegu office of education.
To go along with these articles depicting certain areas as the best or worst for placement of native speaking teachers, the Chosun Ilbo published an article August 25 extolling the virtues of Gangwon-do, which has the top student - native speaking teacher ratio for middle schools (and comes in second for elementary schools, third for high schools, and second overall.) Training for 66 newly placed native speaking assistant teachers in Gangwon-do took place from the 18th to the 26th.
And when the welcoming ceremony for 53 new native speaking teachers was held by the Daejeon office of education on August 26, Daejeon announced that with these new teachers they now had a 100% placement rate.
One wonders how the Gyeonggi provincial council is feeling after seeing these articles, considering they cut the budget for around a thousand native speaking teachers in the province back in July, and the results of this decision were reported on last week in several papers, started first by Yonhap. (I'll post a lengthy look at those budget cuts soon.)
In other news, an August 24 broadcast news report by KTV news looks at the Talk program made up of overseas Korean students from English speaking countries or 'native speaking university students.'
Before being placed in regular schools the 322 teachers took part in an English camp for students who are educationally disadvantaged at a training center, which is where the news report is from. When their month long training is finished they'll work at elementary schools throughout the country for 5 months. The report is worth watching, and is mostly positive, looking at 'foreigners' who like K-pop and Korean Americans who want to reconnect with their homeland as reasons for wanting to take part in the program.
And on August 26, Newsis reported that a native speaker English video learning system is being implemented in Guri, Gyeonggi-do, which will allow students to learn from Filipino native speaking teachers. According to the city the system has been put in place to reduce the burden of private education costs. 400 students from elementary grade 3 through to middle school will take the 6 month course, which will feat 4 students studying with one teacher. They can take three 30 minute classes or two 45 minute classes per week between 3pm and 11pm, and the cost will be 40,000 won, which is half what it should normally cost.
A city official said, "The Philippines has a similar time zone to our country's, and there are many excellent English teachers that one can receive English education from for a reasonable cost, so we expect that this will reduce private education expenditures."