represent [English teachers'] interests and to play a bridging role between Korean and non-Korean English teachers.
You may recall that last week I posted briefly on KAFLA and their quest to "block unqualified hagwon teachers." A Korea Times piece from May 19th says:
The Korea Association of Foreign Language Academies (KAFLA) complained that the government was ``recklessly’’ opening the door to foreigners without building any safeguard against unqualified teachers. The association has about 7,000 members.
``The government is under the illusion that an unlimited number of English teachers exists overseas,’’ said Seo Jung-sook, information director of the association. ``Inviting more foreign teachers will eventually degrade the average quality of instructors and drive up costs for us.’’
Native English speakers who have no teaching experience in their 20s receive the same salaries as Koreans who have taught English for more than 10 years, she said.
The association said the Korea Immigration Service (KIS) does not retain data on foreign nationals who have had work experience here. ``No hagwon owners want to work with unqualified foreigners. Most hagwon employers terminate contracts of unacceptable foreigners, those guilty of sexual harassment or taking drugs,'' general director Choi Chang-jin said.
``However, many of these `blacklisted' foreigners return and teach English at other hagwon. I have seen a foreigner, who was expelled on drug charges, return here within three days. This is because the government does not keep records on these foreigners,'' Choi said.
As for the incoming association for native English-speaking instructors, the owners said they will take all measures against them.
``I don’t think the association will truly represent foreign English teachers, so we don’t see any point in talking with it, even if it is established,'' Choi said. KAFLA said it will take all measures possible to prevent foreign teachers from forming the representative body.
To which I extended an invitation for that group to have sexual intercourse with itself. In the paper two days ago was a piece called "Foreign Teachers Seek Dialogue With Hagwon Owners." ATEK responded to KAFLA's saying they would not meet with ATEK, but then in a comment on the ATEK piece KAFLA told the KT:
Upon the suggestion, KAFLA indicated they could meet the leaders of the foreign teachers' group but that does not mean that they acknowledge ATEK as a representative body.
``We cannot acknowledge the body. Still, we can meet them on an individual basis to discuss some issues,’’ said its general director Choi Chang-jin.
Well, all the news isn't bad though. Anyway, on the latest Seoul Podcast, Zen Kimchi said I was falling into the trap of making this an us vs. them issue. I agree with that, and also with his suggestion that some Korean teachers are right to complain about the disparity in salaries between native speakers and Korean English teachers. However, I stand firm on two counts: (1) the original piece on KAFLA nine days ago was a one-sided hit piece, and (2) you can't go after quote-unquote unqualified foreign teachers without looking in the mirror and examining the quality of Korean English teachers as well. I could talk all day about whether Korean English teachers do the job better than foreigners---a lot of times they do---and whether the system is set up to let them be more successful while we are destined to fail---I see my classes only once or twice a month---and there's no sense in getting into it now.
I'll just reiterate that, whether it's a union or a national accreditation system, foreign teachers really need a stake in the system here. The only measuring stick is years experience and salary, and for all the bellyaching about unqualified-this and untrained-that, if there were a national ordering system that rewarded, say, camps, seminars, demonstrations, publications, and language skills---in addition to years on the job---I think you'd not only have achieved a very important dialogue between "us and them" but you'd also have found a really nice way to make native teachers more productive and more useful.
If you read my feed on google you'll see that I pressed "enter" too quickly and published an unfinished version of this. My bad.