The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education said it has raised the budget to finance hagwon fees for 444 English primary and secondary schoolteachers in Seoul this year from about 200 in 2008.
Each teacher receives about 450,000 won ($350) in subsidy for three months. Of the 444 teachers, 204 are at elementary schools and 240 at secondary schools. Many other teachers are learning at hagwon without subsidy, and the number is expected to rise further.
Many teachers say they are feeling growing pressure to strengthen their proficiency, as they are required to conduct English-only classes by 2012 as part of government-led programs to boost English classes at public schools.
Oh You-hwan, 47, an English teacher at Paekahm High School, has attended an English-speaking class at a hagwon in Seoul since April.
``I want the authorities to offer various training programs for English teachers with greater subsidies,’’ said Oh, who has taught for 19 years.
Yoon Yeon-mo, 50, another English teacher at Sorabol High School, has found the subsidy is not enough to cover her hagwon fees.
``I can easily find other English teachers from public schools in my class (at the foreign language institute). Many English teachers are under pressure to study English, as they have to conduct English-only classes,’’ said Yoon, who has worked in education for about 25 years.
I wrote about those TEE certificates earlier in the month, and Chris in South Korea has a good write-up today. He brings up a Korea Herald article that has an interesting line:
The Seoul education office will begin operating the system in the second semester this year. Whether a teacher in Seoul has the TEE certificates will be disclosed to parents, many teachers are expected to strive to gain one.
On the one hand, I totally get that English class isn't about English in secondary schools, but that it's about teaching toward exams, thus making the language an obstacle in its own class. But, and this is me being a little cranky after a long day at the office, let me just say "oh, God forbid an English teacher is actually evaluated on his or her ability to use the language." Okay, that's out of my system.
There was a lot of news about English teachers in June; another story which intersects with this is the planned introduction of Korean English "lecturers" who will be able to teach English class in English. Actually, the news this month was that the government didn't attract nearly the number of applicants it expected.
But the interesting thing about these lecturers, and about these teachers with TEE certificates in the public schools, is that their will roughly coincide with the start of a domestic English test aimed at replacing the TOEFL exam. The Minister of Education said last year that he sees it being accepted overseas, like Japan's Eiken, though by showing how few schools actually accept the Eiken, I think I made it clear that the Korean test can only hope to be used domestically. News at the time said the test would be of "practical English skills,"
The government will introduce a state-certified English proficiency test from 2012 to improve practical English skills of students and eventually replace TOEFL and other foreign exam material.
and likewise these English "lecturers" would teach "practical English."
This year, it will hire 2,000 ``practical English instructors'' for elementary schools and another 3,000 for secondary schools.
I mentioned in my Korea Herald article last week, and in a couple other posts this past year, that these teachers, backing up this test, are not set up to fail like we are. Can you imagine how more successful native speaker English teachers would be in the schools if "practical English" were actually a priority now?