The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education said it plans to establish a system to ensure that all Korean English teachers can conduct English-only classes by 2012 from the current 58 percent.
Under the plan, the education office governing all elementary and secondary schools in the city will introduce a Teaching English in English (TEE) Certificate for English teachers beginning in the fall semester. The city currently has 4,678 English teachers at secondary schools and 3,800 at elementary schools.
``We will issue the certificate to teachers who are able to conduct classes in English and continue to encourage more and more teachers to acquire the certificate,’’ said Yoon Ho-sang, senior supervisor at the education office. ``Those who hold the certificate can get incentives in personnel placement.’’
These TEE plans are generally unpopular. Here's an excerpt from an article last year, though this one talks about the plan to recruit new teachers rather than use the ones already here:
Meanwhile, more than half of English teachers are opposing the introduction of "Teaching English in English (TEE)" teachers, planned by the government for next year. The government plans to recruit 23,000 TEE teachers, who will conduct classes only in English, over the next five years.
Korea’s largest teachers group, the Korean Federation of Teachers’ Association said Sunday that 56.7 percent of English teachers negatively responded to the TEE teacher plans in a recent survey, while 24.9 percent said they need TEE teachers.
Among those respondents against ``English-only'' teachers, 46 percent said it would bring unqualified teachers to schools and 21 percent said current teacher levels are already enough for English education. The teachers' group questioned 425 English teachers at elementary and secondary schools nationwide between April and May.
TEE is unpopular because so few teachers can do it, because it requires such a departure from the normal teaching style, and because it takes some confidence to speak English in front of students. You'll notice how unwilling, if not unable, many teachers are to use English in class, not only because their English is poor, but also because the students will laugh at them.
I watched a TEE demonstration class last year and it was awful, just plain awful, because the Korean teacher led the class, barked the orders, and spoke most of the time while the native speaker modeled some dialogues and gave out stickers. However, this was a failed attempt at team teaching, though if TEE catches on it could ultimately mean more face-time with native speakers in schools. For instance, in public schools now Korean English teachers meet classes about three times a week, and do roughly one or two pages in the textbook a day. The textbooks aren't very meaty, and stretching the material out requires a lot of bluster and ultimately wastes a lot of time. There are only so many times you need to explain "can" and "can't," or other tedious points, and really these can be explained in very simple English or in a few examples of Korean. Reducing time used for, say, grammar or listening practice by half or two-thirds would open more time for meaningful English in class, either with a native speaker or a competent, and dare I say "qualified" Korean teacher.
Because I'm afraid of losing my title as "angriest blogger" this year, I'll just copy and paste a rant I wrote last fall on the topic, because I know you won't click through to the link:
And I know that one of the chief objections to TEE is that
teachersstudents just aren't good enough to manage a class conducted entirely in English. But, you know, rather than plugging away at grammar and readings that neither the students nor the teachers can understand, why not aim for more functional English?
But come on, would you tolerate social studies teachers who couldn't use a map? Math teachers who couldn't do long division? Then why the easy-going attitude toward English teachers who clearly aren't proficient in the subject they teach? I'm not simply talking about being able to speak fluently---but is that really too much to ask?---or even being able to produce the sounds of English---of course a necessity, but one which most can't do on a regular basis---I'm also talking about being able to comprehend texts and use the basics of English grammar. Grammar is supposed to be their specialty, after all, but the idea of the Asian grammar expert so embraced by out-of-touch academic journals is clearly a myth. Why, then, is every utterance filled with errors? Maybe they just suck at speaking, you say, but then why is every newspaper, every magazine, every textbook, every advertisement, every commercial, every piece of stationary, every t-shirt, and every other scrap of English so heavy in errors and in awkward English? Perhaps Koreans just aren't good at writing, then. Sorry, but if you can't use grammar and can't recognize when it's used improperly, you don't know grammar. Time to hit the books again. I wish I could say bad English were simply a holdover from the older generation, but having dealt with younger teachers over the years I can say that's not the case.
What I like to bring up, though, each time people talk about TEE is that, as native speaker English teachers, are essentially required to do it each and every class. The challenges Korean teachers imagine are the ones we face each time.