Thursday, May 23, 2013

Study find that native speaking instructors are more helpful to top-ranked students

Newsis published this article this morning:
Korea University professor Choi Hyeong-je: "Native speaking instructors are more helpful to top-ranked students"

A study has found that native speaking instructors are more helpful to top-ranked students with good marks.

On May 23, the Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training released through an employment skills development journal a research report titled "Native speaking assistant teachers' effect on the improvement of high school students' English ability."

According to the study, which was led by Korea University professor Choi Hyeong-je, using national-level scholastic achievement assessment criteria, analysis of native speaking instructors' contribution to academic high school students' English marks found that native speaking instructors are relatively more helpful to top-ranked students.

The difference in the effect of native speaking instructors on boys and girls' high schools was not statistically significant, but they were found to be relatively more effective in the case of co-ed schools.

In this case as well, they were more effective with top-ranked students in particular, according to the report.

Professor Choi explained: "It was found that native speaking instructors have more of an effect on middle and upper ranked students than on lower ranked students." "Relatively speaking, native speaking instructors are more helpful for students who are confident with English and prepared."

He advised, "For the native speaking instructor system to have a more positive effect on all levels of students, we should consider assistance for students with low English proficiency such as classes divided by level."
I suppose this is all of a moot point for high schools in Seoul, where foreign English teachers have been cut from almost every middle and high school. One question that might be asked is how low-ranked students perform in other subjects besides English; I'm not sure if that's dealt with in the report.

If you'd like to read the report for yourself, it's available here. Mind you, a look at the website reveals that, unlike what you might assume from reading the above article, the journal article was not released today (it was April 30), and the quotes above which appear to be from an interview with Professor Choi are actually paraphrased from the abstract. In fact, the entire article is pretty much paraphrased from the abstract! It looks like a little more work was put into writing another article published by Newsis this afternoon, though it's rather odd:
'Serious overemphasis': 99% of foreign language native speaking teachers in Gyeongsangbuk-do teach English

The selection of foreign languages for students in Gyeongsangbuk-do is limited because most of the foreign native speaking teachers placed in schools and educational institutions there are English teachers.

According to the Gyeongsangbuk-do office of education on the 23rd, out of a total of 710 foreign native speaking teachers in Gyeongsangbuk-do at the end of April, 706 were English native speaking teachers, making up more than 99% of all foreign teachers.

Meanwhile, in the case of Chinese and Japanese, the languages chosen in schools as third languages, there are only four Chinese teachers and not even a single Japanese teacher.

It's been found that this excessive emphasis on native speaking teachers teaching English is because having high English scores is very advantageous for students when enter society and find jobs after high school.
It's nice of Newsis to point out that such an overemphasis on English isn't such a good idea, but it's essentially trying to create a problem where there really isn't any - the rest of the article features teachers and education office officials all saying that parents aren't interested in any native speaking teachers other than English teachers. Large scale hiring of Chinese native speaking teachers is fairly recent. Jeollanam-do may have the most; as of March this year it had hired 63 Chinese native speaking teachers.

The article ends with some statistics: In 2011 the only native speaking instructors were 659 English teachers, while in 2012, of the 703 native speaking instructors hired, there were 701 English teachers and 2 Chinese teachers. It also says that the number of native speaking English teachers keeps increasing, while the number of Chinese and Japanese teachers stays still. According to these statistics (from this post), in 2010 there were 795 native speaking English teachers in Gyeongsangbuk-do, which means there's actually been a decrease (if the stats that have been brought up are correct). Meanwhile, I've searched Naver for other articles about Chinese native speaking teachers in Gyeongsangbuk-do and didn't find any - so there actually was an increase from 0 to 2 between 2011 and 2012.

And in other Gyeongsangbuk-do news, there were several news outlets which reported that 55 EPIK teachers from Gyeongsangbuk-do were being taken on a trip to Ulleungdo and Dokdo from Monday to Wednesday this week (out of 200 who applied to go). They've apparently been doing this every year since 2009.


Yule said...

I'm really not sure -- What does "more helpful" mean?

Does it mean "top-ranked" students' test scores on some standardized test improve due to NETs at a higher rate than "low-ranked" students?

Might not this happen anyway, without NETs? How can they isolate the effect of the NET?

matt said...

Does it mean "top-ranked" students' test scores on some standardized test improve due to NETs at a higher rate than "low-ranked" students?

That was my understanding of it. As to how they can 'isolate the effect of the NET,' I really don't know.