Yonhap News learned from parents and teachers of middle school D in Jangan-gu, Suwon, where a native-speaker teacher from the United Kingdom came to school drunk and caused a disturbance.
The drunken teacher began teaching sex education to the students in words they could not understand, saying “the reason I’m not married is I don’t want to have kids like you,” and “Dokdo is Japanese.”
An English teacher named Choi who works at a high school in Jeollanam-do said, “they don’t know the basic purpose of education. During lesson song times they just sing songs over and over, 10 or 20 times. I totally fail to see how you can learn English through pop songs.”
English teachers who have to conduct lessons with native-speaker teachers say the biggest problem with them is lack of attention to lesson planning.
One teacher who was worked with a native-speaker teacher for 18 months said, “because elementary school students must be made interested in English, lesson preparation is the most important thing. But native-speaker teachers will prepare just two lessons in a year. Even that is for demonstration lessons.”
One elementary school teacher in Seoul said, “last year a native-speaker teacher who was at school for the first time was gone for a month claiming illness. Then for two weeks the teacher worked, then quit saying it was hard. Finally we went a semester with no native-speaker teacher.”
The Ministry says such native-speaker teachers are a minority, but statistics say otherwise.
Ministry statistics show that from January to April of last year 54 native-speaker teachers quit without notice or resigned for reasons including inability to fit in, work, and illness. That was the number for four months, and is equivalent to 160 in a year. Last year there were over 5,000 native-speaker teachers, a number that indicates a serious problem.
There are also not a few native-speaker teachers who have been caught with insufficient or forged credentials.
And here's a lengthy excerpt from Lim today:
The article gleefully cites the most outrageous cases of teacher misconduct to highlight the gross incompetence, negligence and outright lies involving native-speaker teachers. As an example, it tells of a middle school teacher from Great Britain who came in drunk and began to verbally abuse the students using words they didn't understand. One teacher supposedly told the class, ``The reason I'm not married is I don't want to have kids like you,'' and ``Dokdo is Japanese," while teaching sex education.
Gasp. This is indeed outrageous. Well, at least he didn't say Takeshima. That would have been unbearable and could have caused lasting psychological scars on these defenseless junior high school students. I did have one question, though: If the children didn't understand what the teacher was saying, how did they tell the adults what was actually said?
The article also lists other cases that are sufficiently shocking and disgraceful enough to deserve prime real estate in any British tabloid worth its name. But enough. Granted, the cases are probably not made up, but that's not the point; there is a bigger issue here than just bad and sensationalist journalism. The bigger issue is racism.
This article is not a search for the truth but a list of disparate episodes that have been connected in such a way as to create a narrative that is unjustified, inaccurate and dishonest. It's alarmist. Worse, it's outright racist because it attributes certain failings ― in this case, nothing less than a failure of character ― to a whole group of people based on the actions of a few individuals because they bear superficial physical resemblance, come from comparable cultural backgrounds, or share a similar language skill set.
This is unfortunate because such an attitude goes directly against the Korea Inc. stated attempt to transition itself into a diverse, multicultural and engaged workforce, ready to excel in a global environment.
I criticized Lim a few times in my blog's younger and more vulnerable years for what I considered bad writing on foreign English teachers, though he has delivered several quality pieces since then. I wrote a rebuttal to his piece "Why Not Korean Americans?," and it found its way into the Korea Times back in November, 2007. Go ahead and read "'Why Not Korean Americans' Way Off-base" if you've nothing else to do.