On native speaking English teachers: "[Is spending] 300 billion won useful? Well..."An elementary school in Ulsan spending 60-70 million won per year on each foreign teacher? Teachers getting a pay raise of 200,000 won per year? I don't think so. But then if the reporters didn't make stuff up or exaggerate, there wouldn't be a problem, would there? And reporters do have a duty to lead crusades to protect the nation, so we should try to give them our understanding.
"Classes are poor and if they have lots of experience their salary goes up" ... Criticism of living tape recordings.
In places of education there is growing criticism of the usefulness of the native speaking English assistant teacher system in comparison to the budget of 300 billion won which is poured into it.
In 1995, in order to teach students practical English education centered on listening and speaking, native speaking English assistant teachers began to be placed in schools across the country, and from 2008 their numbers rose as full-scale recruiting began.
According to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology on the 24th, currently there are around 9000 native speaking English assistant teachers placed in elementary, middle and high schools around the country. The related budget is based on funds from the education office and support from the local government, and this year 309.4 billion won was spent, with Gyeonggi-do spending around 68.7 billion won, Seoul around 51 billion won and Gyeongsangbuk-do around 28.3 billion won.
In places of education there are voices saying that this budget is excessive. In particular, the issue is being raised in regard to the large portion of the budget earmarked for native speaking teachers' personnel expenses, as it is excessively high in comparison to their ability.
An English teacher at an elementary school in Ulsan said, "It costs 60 to 70 million won per year to invite a native speaking teacher" and "At school everyone agrees that it's too expensive."
According to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology's "Native speaking English assistant teacher plan for the second half of 2011," native speaking teachers' monthly salary ranges from 1.5 million won to 2.7 million won depending on their level and region. In addition to the native speaking teacher's salary, the government also pays for costs such as a settlement allowance, rent, household appliances, and insurance.
[Korean] teachers with experience co-teaching with native speaking assistant teachers claim that in many cases these expensively employed native speaking teachers play the role of a "living tape recording."
A teacher working at an elementary school in Ulsan explained that, "The are even cases when all [the teacher does] is play an English video for the students." "When you see something like that, how can you not say negative things about such expensively employed native speaking teachers."
A teacher who has taught with a native speaking assistant teacher for the last two years at an elementary school in Gwanak-gu in Seoul said, "The Korean teacher always takes charge of planning the lessons, and there are many cases in which native speaking teacher does not properly carry out or finish the lesson."
A problem is that if a native speaking teacher who teaches classes poorly re-signs his contract after a year, his salary will increase in acknowledgment of his experience. According to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, "someone who re-signs a contract in the same school district" ascends one level and their salary increases by 200,000 won as well. They also receive 2 million won as re-signing bonus.
[Korean] English teachers who are responsible for native speaking teachers explain that "Because the evaluation system for native speaking teachers is in name only, native speaking teachers have "cursory" classes, re-sign their contracts, and receive a higher salary."
The teacher at the elementary school in Gwanak-gu revealed the reasons why it's difficult to give frank assessments, saying, "If the native speaking teacher's evaluation is low, there is a feeling that the school is branding itself as having a problem." "Also, there's no guarantee if the current native speaker doesn't re-sign that the replacement teacher will be better qualified."
In places of education there is agreement with the aims of the native speaking English assistant teacher system, but it is widely felt, "Not like this."
As a teacher at a high school in Seoul's Dobong-gu stressed,"That it provides a chance for low income students to meet native speakers is important," however, "There must be a system to properly evaluate native speaking teachers in order to see their true effectiveness."
A Ministry of Education, Science and Technology official said, "Because it is still in its early stages, more time is needed before everyone is satisfied with the lessons." "More effort is being concentrated on various things like hiring able native speaking teachers, discovering good examples, and training."
And as with the 'foreigners run amok in Hongdae' YTN story from 2007, (in which the police said, "There’s really nothing we can do.") here again are these foreign teachers 'beyond Korea's control,' as they cannot be evaluated properly and are allowed to continue to work, even having the gall to receive (exaggerated) raises for each year they work at a school. When will this end? When will Korea cease to be so helpless in the face of these foreigners... that they invited into their classrooms? When, God, when?!?
In other news, EPIK orientation has begun in Gangwon-do, and, also in Gangwon-do, interactive video lectures done via internet by native speaking English teachers based in the U.S. are being implemented at 54 elementary schools and 5 middle schools in farming or fishing villages which will affect 1020 students. The system will allow for consultation between Korean and foreign teachers and will run for 14 weeks (until the end of the year) starting tomorrow. While the English teaching robots are idiotic, I'm curious if this would be a viable system or not.