Thursday, December 3, 2009

Are native speakers part of English here? Your thoughts on the 2009 GETA International Conference.

I saw this post on Dave's ESL Cafe last month, refering to the 2009 GETA International Conference held at Honam University in Gwangju on November 21, 2009:
Yesterday in Gwangju I attended the Global English Teachers Association (GETA) symposium. The title was 'Transforming Learners, Teachers, and the English Classroom.

This was recommended to me as a professional development conference. For Native English Teachers it was anything but.

From the first presentation to the last NETs were bashed. Within the first hour a reference was made to crimes being commited by NETs. There were a few laughs during the day at our expense, and the overall purpose of the day seems to be to make the argument that monies would be better spent training Korean teacher's rather than recruiting and hiring NETs.

One discussion group was held entirely in Korea (although it was an English conference.) The topic of that presentation? 'Transforming ELT in Korea.'

This was not a small break out group - this was one of two late morning discussion groups. Native English speakers who were already seated in the auditorium were told to attend the 'Transforming ELT in Asia' discussion panel.

The fact that the Transforming ELT in Korea panel was held in Korean shows exactly how much input NETs have in the discussion.

There were a few interesting presentation in the afternoon during the break out sessions. These were mostly by grad students presenting their research. But the overall theme for the day was that NETs are bad for the development of teaching English in Korea.

The original poster mailed the conference's booklet to me, and I've typed out the first part of the plenary session below. Titled "Transforming ELT in Korea" by WonKey Lee (이완기) of Seoul National University of Education, this portion is called "Transform, Transcend, and Reform":
A former head of the Samsung Group remarked that one should transform everything except one's wife and one's children. But today I wish to go one step further than he did. I will leave my wife alone, but I will argue that we do need to transform our children and their English learning, because English learning is going to be a more and more important part of transforming them.

Why transform our children? Briefly, because the world that our children will grow up in is growing up too. Like our children, the world is no longer stable, but rather meta-stable, like a bicycle in which every working part has been replaced many times, or like the human body itself. The body only remains what it is through a process of constant transformation. This constant transformation necessarily changes every cell of the body not once but many times. Similarly, in a meta-stable world, only constant transformation can ensure survival. Staying put, or hanging around, means decay and disappearance. As Dewey said, if we go on teaching today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of their tomorrows. I will talk about this somewhat less briefly below.

But why transform English learning? Briefly, because learning English as a FOREIGN language in a world which is using English as an international language means staying put and hanging around, decay and disappearance. If we go on learning English as a FOREIGN language in a world where it no longer plays the role of a language spoken by American and British people in faraway places, then we rob our children of their tomorrows.

But what exactly does "transform" mean? As every English teacher knows, meanings are only exact in exact contexts. But exact contexts can be very hard to explain. This is why, of course, our teachers find it generally easier to replace an English word with a Korean one rather than to define an English word in English. The dictionary meaning of 'transform' is 'to change completely in form, appearance, or nature.'

Here I'm going to use my English word "transform" to mean both of the two other English words: "transcend" and "reform."

By "transcend", I really mean to totally demolish the existing system and make another different system by going beyond the limits of the current system.

For example, I mean teaching English as a global language and not as a FOREIGN language at all. Now, in our context, in the Korean context, that means that we need to think of English as a new Asian language, a trans-Asian lingua franca, and not as an American one. After all, English was not originally American either! But English was transformed from a European language into an American one, and now it is being transformed again. This transformation will mean demolishing the existing system of English, and of English teaching, and making a very different system.

And the word 'reform' is defined as 'to improve by changing or removing undesirable quantities. By "reform" I mean to partially add something new or change some parts of the existing system so that it can be regarded as different or improved from the previous system, like replacing the parts of a bicycle or replacing old cells with new ones.

For example, I mean that we need to replace "native-speaking English teachers" with Korean bilingual teachers. After all, we can't depend forever on those expatriate native- speaking English teachers for English teaching in Korea. When we replace "native-speaking English teachers" with bilingual Korean natives we will have teachers we can count on for life.

He mentions native speakers again, a few pages later:
As English becomes a lingua franca, or an international language, the status of English as a foreign language, that is, as the native language of a group of foreigners, will also diminish. That is, the status of English as a second language, or lingua franca, may keep increasing. As a result, "nativeness" in English accents may also decrease, and also the native English speaker as a model may also decrease in importance or status. That means competence in English is likely to be favored over nativeness. Thus, it becomes not important or necessary to try hard to resemble English native speakers in speaking English. Meaning-deliverability in a reasonably intelligible pronunciation, and meaning understandability will be essential for the use of English language for communicative purposes.

A variety of local accents in using English may be appreciated, and will be no problem if meaning delivery and meaning-getting take place successfully. Thus, competent bilingual speakers of English will probably increase, as more and more young learners start to learn English at their early ages. People may not need to go to English speaking Western countries to learn English, because they can have easier access to English and more opportunities to learn English in their own country or in their neighbouring countries.

And again a few more pages later:
There are a great number of native-speaking English teachers in all levels of schools as well as in private sector institutes across all Korea. Most of them have been doing a great job in teaching English in Korea, but some of them clearly have not met our initial expectations. Many, for example, do not want to go to provincial areas where they are really wanted because of the inconveniences of life there and the lack of cultural benefits. Chasing money or seeking pleasure in Korea instead of being dedicated to ELT is undoubtedly a problem. So now, it's getting more and more difficult to employ well-qualified teachers.

Employing native-speaking English teachers who are not sufficiently qualified to teach English in Korea is a lot more costly than training Korean English teachers to be competent in English and English teaching methodology. To employ one foreign teacher we need to pay expenses twice more than employing two new Korean teachers. In addition, to employ foreign teachers is a yearly task, because once they finish their contracts many go home (and some even do so before they finish!). In contrast, once Korean teachers are trained and qualified with some initial investment, they will not incur extra cost until they retire. Training Korean teachers is more economical. And well-trained Korean teachers can do better in ELT than most foreign teachers.

So, it is necessary and desirable to reduce the number of foreign teachers every year, and to invest more budgets in training Korean teachers in improving English proficiency and teaching methodology. We can't rely on native-speaking English teachers forever. We are planning to replace native-speaking English teachers with competent, bilingual Korean teachers of English in the long run. Then, only highly qualified native-speaking English teachers could be invited in a smaller number, and be used as teacher trainers of Korean English teachers.

Certainly it makes more sense to simply train local teachers rather than import thousands. And, if spoken English is to take a backseat to grammar and reading---which it does---if the skills NSETs are brought in to teach aren't considered important or highly-regarded---and they aren't---and if NSETs aren't respected and appreciated as professionals---'cause they aren't---then yes, it's simply more efficient to train Korean English teachers. Though I hate to see that conclusion arrived at by misinformation and distortions.

I will say again, not for my longtime readers but for the benefit of any Koreans who come here, that the biggest reason some teachers "clearly have not met our initial expectations" is because of the lack of planning and support that has accompanied them. Schools and co-teachers, now several years removed from the introduction of native speaker English teachers, still do not know what to do with them. I recall asking a co-teacher at the beginning of the semester what she would like me to teach, and she said "[the previous teacher] gave them candy." It's true that many NSETs are new and inexperienced, but remember that we are hired as native speaker assistant teachers, and are supposed to work in tandem with experienced Korean teachers. Then consider that these teachers are often not proficient or even basically competent in the language, and that some shirk their duties by not attending class with their assistant teacher and not attending the mandatory teachers' workshops.

Regarding attracting teachers to rural areas, as a person who spent a year in Gangjin county, I can attest that not even Korean teachers were happy about being there. In fact, when I was there the school chose not to use me, because it was phasing out native speakers in favor of using homeroom teachers to teach English, even though these teachers knew nothing of the language. And in some rural areas, there aren't even English teachers at all, and another subject teacher has to cover the English classes. The difficulties of attracting foreign teachers to rural areas has more to do with bureaucratic ineptitude than with the challenges of rural Korea.

For the benefit of Korean readers who have not visited my site before, I'll direct you to some links here where I've written more about the challenges native speaker English teachers face.
* (12/2/2009) In the Korea Herald, writing about mandatory culture classes for foreign teachers.
* (6/26/2009) Korea Herald: Just what makes a teacher "qualified"?
* (6/15/2009) Not enough applicants for those "English Lecturer" jobs.
* (6/5/2009) Seoul wants English classes to be taught in English, will give TEE certs out.
* (5/13/2009) Korea Herald: The media bias against foreign teachers.
* (5/6/2009) 12% of native speaker teachers in Ulsan not retained.
* (5/1/2009) Korea Times: Foreign teachers wrongly portrayed in Korea.
* (4/7/2009) Korea Herald: Stop the scatter-shot approach to English.
* (12/30/2008) Half of foreign teachers leave after one year? GREAT! That's an article that should be brought up every now and again, because a MOE official in charge of native speaker English teachers says
``They are neither regular teachers nor lecturers who can conduct classes independently. They are `assistant teachers,' hence their teaching experience doesn't matter much,'' he said. ``Rather, it's better for students to have more new teachers so that they can meet various kinds of foreigners,'' he added.

* (12/10/2008): Poor guy.
* (11/24/2008): EPIK in the news some more.
* (11/21/2008): 4,000 "English Lecturers" coming in 2010.
* (11/14/2008): A must-read: an account of teaching English in South Korea in the sixties.
* (10/6/2008): More money going into English education next year.
* (9/11/2008): More English-Only classrooms, more gimmicks.
* (6/23/2008): Pronunciation matters.
* (11/28/2007) A reaction to Kang-Eun-hee's "Korean English Teachers."


You'll find links to other articles within those posts. And that's without addressing schools who don't honor contracts.

I've exchanged a few emails with the original poster, and I quote, with permission, part of the reply:
It was as bad as I posted. The written stuff is tame. I am not exaggerating when I say that by the end of the first session a presenter had made reference to NETs committing criminal acts.

When the last presenter said, 'We shouldn't be so hard on the native English teachers, some of them are doing a good job.' I knew I had missed a bunch of NET slamming. Also, the break out session on improving ESL teaching in Korea was held in Korean - I wonder why?

I have never felt so uncomfortable at a gathering of academics in my life. And I have 10 years of working in a research environment under my belt.

It's been en vogue for a while to discuss the "myth of the native speaker" in literature on second-language acquisition, so I'm aware of the arguments against using native speaker English teachers. Indeed, at the TESOL Conference last month the plenary speaker there, too, referenced native speakers backpacking across Asia. The author makes a good point that English is a global language, and shouldn't be treated as a foreign one---thus one only studied as a subject not a language---but I don't like divorcing English from its speakers. I wonder if the "myth of the native speaker" turns up in literature on teaching other languages, or if it's written by "foreigners" that, say, disregarding polite speech in Korean or Japanese is appropriate.

Teachers here soon learn that English as we know it isn't taught in South Korea, but rather English is studied as a subject. It's a rude awakening to see just how separated English is from its speakers in Korea, and that native speakers in the schools seem more tolerated than valued. I can't say I'm surprised to see Koreans speaking out for the need to replace native speakers---after all, with the new tests, the new lecturers, and the Indians, the writing's on the wall---but I think it's inappropriate for an "academic" conference that, although I put it in quotation marks, had Korean professors from all over the country. Just as foreign attendees question "why am I here?" at discussion panel conducted in Korean, so too might native speaker English teachers as "why am I here?" in a system that doesn't seem to want them.

47 comments:

Walter Foreman said...

First! And with so much to say, and no time to say it. Damn! But... I'll tease with this...

If anyone knows the history of modern (Western?) medicine in Korea, then they will know that it was very quickly made evident that foreign doctors could not continue to be alpha and omega of medicine; Koreans would have to be trained to do the job themselves.

Maybe this is a case of history repeating itself.

More later. Promise (or, depending on your POV, threat)

fattycat said...

so much to say but so little time at this moment. I will comment on this point right now:

"Chasing money or seeking pleasure in Korea instead of being dedicated to ELT is undoubtedly a problem. So now, it's getting more and more difficult to employ well-qualified teachers."

So is that why at my place of work a person with an education degree get paid less than someone with a masters in science? Having that little advertisement that says "we have a teacher with a masters" is more important than teacher training.

brent said...

From Wikipedia:
Import substitution industrialization (also called ISI) is a trade and economic policy based on the premise that a country should attempt to reduce its foreign dependency through the local production of industrialized products.

Korea's first instincts are to Koreanize, monopolize and domestically produce everything (at times with comic results). Korea is an exporting country that just doesn't understand trade the way "we" would.

The hole in their theory is that their English teachers will be able to learn English competently from NSETs after they haven't had them in their public schools. Again, this will drive hagwon demand which drives parents to scream for NSET in the classroom which started this in the first place. Every pundit, journalist, academic, politician or teacher against the NSETs forget that this was motivated by parent demand.

BTW, it would help if any of the major decision makers about English could actually use the language or know something about it.

hiro said...

"Teachers here soon learn that English as we know it isn't taught in South Korea, but rather English is studied as a subject."

Thanks for this line Brian. It really opened my eyes to how English is taught in Korea.

I guess the approach is much the same as teaching chemistry. There is a book, there is information in the book, you study the information, ask some questions, and take a test. Rarely does the student actually use any of the stuff learned in the classroom.

I guess the question is whether or not Korea wants to move their English education system away from the theory model and towards an applied model.

Teacher Leo said...

I agree that we have so much to say and so little time and space (and listeners) to say it...
My daughter, the philosopher, likened our experiences as native teachers to a romance, where we have the classic 'cock-tease' dance - give it to me, I love you, please come, no, no, not like that, go away, you rapist you!
All ELT's I know would love to sign up for three or four or more years.
And as someone who has been living so rurally that I don't even always have hot water to shower in, I resent slurs cast my way...

Kelsey said...

"Regarding attracting teachers to rural areas, as a person who spent a year in Gangjin county, I can attest that not even Korean teachers were happy about being there."

The same was the case in Jindo. I had more than one of my 7 co-teachers there tell me that being assigned to Jindo was almost a punishment. You were generally only assigned to that post if you had pissed someone at the Office of Education off. It was seen as the ass end of nowhere and while I enjoyed it, almost every Korean I met to whom I mentioned where I lived reacted with "Why? It's so backwards? Why not live in Mokpo or Gwangju?". As long as rural posts are providing sub-standard conditions for both their NETS AND their Korean teachers, it's going to be hard to find anyone who will willingly work there. When I left Jindo they were trying to find some poor naive NET to live on Jodo Island, which is a 45 minute ferry ride and then a 45 minute drive from the only two grocery stores on the island bigger than a corner store. Even the Korean teachers refused to live there, so I don't know how they expected to find an NET who would knowingly agree to it!

fattycat said...

"As a result, "nativeness" in English accents may also decrease, and also the native English speaker as a model may also decrease in importance or status."

I find this statement so bizarre. What exactly is a "native English accent"?

He goes on to say: "A variety of local accents in using English may be appreciated, and will be no problem if meaning delivery and meaning-getting take place successfully."

Isnt it already? I think the only people who are telling Korean's that it isnt are other Koreans

fattycat said...

"English was transformed from a European language into an American one"

What???

Darth Babaganoosh said...

To the original OP: be happy there were English presenters at GETA this year. There usually aren't. And that's what always struck me as a major problem with GETA: English teachers going to an English teachers' conference, yet everything presented in Korean.

I'd sigh and shake my head, but that would indicate I was actually surprised.

King Baeksu said...

Hub of Juche

jt said...

I am starting to see this taking place in Ulsan.This past summer, I evaluated a large group of Korean "conversation" teachers who, I would later learn, would probably be replacing me.

Now, they are evaluating the NETs by themselves, rather than with their co-teachers, along with the same teachers that I evaluated. I can only think that they are doing this to compare the two groups of teachers to see who is better. All lessons were video taped.

The problem that I see here is that the Ministry of Education is not developing the NET program enough to make better teachers. There is absolutely no professional development. Anytime that a meeting of KOTESOL or GETA comes up, nobody around Ulsan is informed. You would think that if the NETs were so under qualified that they would jump at the chance for us to get more training.

If they want to improve this system, they should start by selecting the foreign teachers that they feel meet their standards and start training them. A crash course at the beginning of the year does not make a great teacher. Nor does forcing them to work at other learning institutions whenever there is a break and then only sending the Korean Teachers off for training courses. I would rather spend 2 weeks training to improve my job, than 2 weeks at an "English Camp" teaching elementary school students.

If there was a system to develop the NET and was constantly training teachers to be better, then they would have a lot less problems. It was the same when I was running a business. If I hired someone, quickly showed them what to do and hen took off back to my office, they were the worst employee. If I took my time training them, gave them standards (not demands or threats) to meet, rewarded their improvement with promotion, they soon became a devoted and hard-working employee. I see none of that style of thinking here.

Mike in Korea said...

I am currently teaching in rural Yaro (try finding it on a map) and all of my co-teachers hate the school but scored to low on the test to get a better job. I teach in 3 schools and all of the lesson planning is left up to me. Which is crazy considering I didn't go to education university.

Craig said...

Walter foreman and breat have it right. The way the 'good' professor speaks you would need your CELTA, DELTA, and a master's in TESOL plus ten years experiences. And who knows what elso he might at to that list. That fact is that somebody who is in controll of himself and enjoys the use of his own language will be be fine native teacher. The disconnect of the 'good' professors ideal from reality heaps nothing but pity on him. Engllish teaching as a second or forieng language isn't guess work. It takes skills sets, and the locally trained are mostly far from having them.

Ryan.G said...

(mirroring fattycat's sentiment again)
But English was transformed from a European language into an American one

Errr, what now? Quick, someone needs to tell the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and any other country that speak English, that it is now an American language!

L Tron said...

This decision seems to be another in a long line of decisions to make Korean learners of English feel better about themselves instead of actually improving anything. Koreans habitually score lower than most countries on the TOEIC? Start taxing the company that gives it and then institute a test designed by and for graduates of a broken system. Koreans have a hard time learning from foreigners because they are taught for much of their young lives that all non-Koreans will try to take over their country? Replace them with Korean teachers who graduated from and will only perpetuate a broken system.
They are right that they can't afford to continually import and train new labor. But to turn around and say that what they're doing now is good enough to participate in the world because other people have accents is pretty short-sighted.
From the teachers I've met, I don't think anyone would complain if Korea actually had a plan to train their teachers to be competent, able speakers of the language and then turning those speakers loose on the classrooms. It may eliminate 75% of the ESL jobs for NETs here, but many of those are now filled by people who would only be here a year or two regardless and would likely be just as happy teaching English somewhere else.
Of course, to do that, you'd have to think more than six months in the future, so...

Ryan.G said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ryan.G said...

My (Korean) wife recently begun a job teaching English at one of the largest and well respected adult English learning schools in the centre of Seoul. The school tries to focus on Koreans teaching Koreans and not so many foreigners teaching.

Having spent about 10 years in English speaking countries, and being married to me for a number of years has given her a fantastic grasp of the use of English. She almost sound like a native Aussie.

Now when the school was placing the most recent intake of teachers which she was a part of, all of the teachers who were put into the "natural speaking" classes were Koreans who had already spent extensive time overseas, like my wife.

The point I am trying to make, is that even in top English teaching schools, Koreans taught English in Korea, and who have never left, make a poor choice to teach speaking English (though grammar is another story). Only the teachers who have left for any considerable length of time, have the skill to teach speaking in English.

3gyupsal said...

The point that they have done very little to train NEST's, makes me skeptical that they will take the time to do some analysis to figure out what they actually want and then use that to train Korean teachers. An NEST is actually a blessing in two ways. If the person is good, then the students can benefiet, while if they are shit then it gives people something to bitch about. At anyrate, we aren't going home anytime soon, and I doubt that Koreans will stop hiring us.

Peter said...

"Are native speakers part of English here?"

No, they really aren't. But that begs a question that nagged at me throughout my time in Korea: why DO Koreans study English? Why do they use English tests to determine who gets prestigious jobs, or gets into prestigious schooling programs? Why do they care about English at all?

While I actually do agree with much of what the speaker says, I'm baffled by his suggestion that Korea stop viewing English as a "foreign" language, and start viewing it as a "global" one. What is the point of learning a new language, if not to communicate with people who already speak it?

Peter said...

@3gyupsal
"An NEST is actually a blessing in two ways. If the person is good, then the students can benefiet, while if they are shit then it gives people something to bitch about."

Very, very true.

Mike said...

"The difficulties of attracting foreign teachers to rural areas has more to do with bureaucratic ineptitude than with the challenges of rural Korea."

In my experience, the people (read: Americans) I know who are attracted to cold showers and country life tend to join Peace Corp. or Americorp.

I agree with the basic sentiment that it is better to train Koreans to teach English than import teachers. But until English becomes a "second language" in Korea that will never happen. Look at the situation in the States re. Spanish.

There are so many intermarried, internationally educated, and both native-born and foreign-born native speakers that we have NO problems finding qualified and certified teachers.

Korea has issues because it wants/needs English now but, rather than being a place where English speakers immigrate to and become bilingual in Korean... the opposite is true.

If the U.S. wanted to institute mandatory Korean language education in elementary schools tomorrow, there would be enough (maybe) Korean Americans to fill the void pretty quickly.

This isn't an issue of quality or ability as much as one of feasibility. It is absolutely ridiculous to expect someone to learn English well enough to teach it proficiently if they have never studied abroad. I never had a single Spanish or French teacher who hadn't lived in a native country for at least a year.... as had their teachers, and their teachers' teachers...

This Is Me Posting said...

But English was transformed from a European language into an American one.

This statement hurt my soul. Americans can't even pronounce the last letter of the alphabet properly, for crying out loud.

Stevie Bee said...

I'm no flag-waving Englishman (actually, I hate flags - they're so sexless) but it does exercise me inordinately that my university posts multi-lingual 'phrases of the day' around the buildings with the English phrases headed by a stars-and-stripes-bedecked Statue of Liberty. It completely misrepresents the whole project of learning English.

It also strikes me as counter-productive that schoolchildren are taught that 'foreign = bad' in the mornings and then told 'learn foreign talk!' in the afternoons. Sorry, did I say 'counter-productive'? I meant 'completely fucking stupid and absolutely symptomatic of the manner in which Korea continues to hamstring its own cultural and material progress'.

King Baeksu said...

"Americans can't even pronounce the last letter of the alphabet properly, for crying out loud."

Surely you are not referring to the chimaera of "the English alphabet" are you?

Or is your native language actually Konglish?

Actually, "for crying out loud" is most likely American in origin, you Pommy ingrate.

muckefuck.ca said...

" we need to think of English as a new Asian language, a trans-Asian lingua franca, and not as an American one."

Good luck with that. Languages change naturally. English ain't going to change in the way he wants just because a group of people sit around and decide how people should speak.
Europe learns British English. Outside of Europe it is American English. Europe and the Americas ain't going to change just because Asians want them to.

fattycat said...

Hoser, what you sayin about my touque, eh?


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_English

Ryan.G said...

"Europe learns British English. Outside of Europe it is American English."

Err, no. Australia speaks Australian English. New Zealand speaks New Zealand English. India (one of the worls largest populations) also speaks a variation of British English, etc. It's that type of thinking that causes closed minded comments like those of the Wonkey Lee.

Peter said...

Let's not forget that when Koreans think of English as "an American language", it's NOT because that idea has been imposed on them by Americans. People like Wonkey Lee CHOOSE to view English as an American phenomenon, and then turn around and posture about liberating Korea from American linguistic imperialism.

Continuing from 3gyupsal's point, "Westerners" (both inside Korea, and abroad) seem to serve a dual purpose in regards to Korean nationalism. They represent something to compete with or aspire to, like a benchmark for Korean progress; but paradoxically, they're also used as a kind of all-purpose boogeyman/scapegoat, an oppressive influence that Korea must perpetually shrug off in order to come into its own.

Brian Barker said...

Please do not overestimate the international position of English.

In a recent debate in the House of Lords, in London, Lord Harris said -

"Only 6 per cent of the global population are native English speakers and 75 per cent speak no English at all. One telling indicator of the relative influence of English is its declining share of internet traffic. English material on the web has fallen from 51 per cent in 2000 to only 29 per cent in 2009. Over the same period, the amount of material in Chinese rose from only 5 per cent to 20 per cent."
Source: http://www.lordtobyharris.org.uk/as-an-american-once-saidif-the-english-language-was-good-enough-for-jesus-christ-the-house-of-lords-debates-modern-language-skills/

This seems a powerful argument for us to move forward and seriously discuss the solution presented through Esperanto.

Your readers may be interested in http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=_YHALnLV9XU Professor Piron was a former translator at the United Nations.

A glimpse of the language can be seen at http://www.lernu.net

Keith said...

Jt: You can find info about KOTESOL events at www.kotesol.org. You can join up and get regular announcements about up-coming events via email. I hope that will help.

The Seoul chapter of KOTESOL will hold a workshop:

Dec 12 Workshop Introduction to Multi-Level Instruction

3-5 pm Saturday Dec. 12th
Room 105 Injaeguan Center, Sookmyung Women's University
Directions: http://www.kotesol.org/?q=node/105

Keith said...

Am I the only one having a positive experience teaching a public school? Am I the only one who has a supportive principal and wonderful, caring, competent and professional Korean co-teachers? Am I the only one who is being successful transforming English instruction in the school from one of a mere scholastic subject to a life skill everyone of my students will need to be competitive in an ever-increasing world?

I do agree that Korea needs to start training its own to be competent English teachers. Many of us are doing a job that will pay off dividends, not now but maybe in 5 or 10 years, when some of our students decide to become English teachers. I am proud of my students. They are making so much progress. For instance, one of our low level students came to me and I ask how he is doing. He replied "I have a runny nose". Upon hearing this one of my co-teachers hugged him. I gave him a proud pat on the back (and some Kleenex. This student was doing poorly and now is finally getting it. That is our job: Teaching our students how to communicate in English. My job is not just to give lessons just in the classroom but to expose our students to opportunities using the language. We avail ourselves to those opportunities by not sitting behind our desk chatting on the internet. We go out in the hallways and greet and chat with as many students as possible. We set up cultural events and presentations so that English and speakers of that language aren't divorced. A dedicated teacher is not worried about being compensated for every little thing. Sometimes the rewards are not of the monetary kind.

I have been a teacher for over 10 years and I thoroughly enjoy my job. I don't dread getting up in the morning when I was working in legal field. Only an immature waste of sperm is ONLY focused on making money.

A final word about professionalism: We don't wait for others to tell us that we need professional development. We seek opportunities for development. We can read a book about theories of language acquisition. We can educate ourselves how to deal with affective factors. A professional does wait for someone else to pay for it.

Keith said...

Esparanto? Paleeeeze. The reason that there is more Chinese material is because access to the internet in China is growing. More and more Chinese want to learn English because it is the international language. Chinese is not. I doubt it will be because Chinese is a bit harder to learn because of it writing system. English is relatively easy. My Hungarian and Finnish friends say that because English doesn't have all those cases like in their languages it was relatively easy for them to learn. I think it is more than that. Motivation and being exposed to cultures that learn languages have a lot to do with. For the Finns, English is actually the third language they learn. The second is Swedish. Since Swedish is a Germanic language like English, knowing Swedish in a way helps in learning English. For the Hungarian, ENglish is the third after German.

As for those who talk about the "myth of the native speaker": TESOL has put out announcement against discrimination against non-native English-speaking teachers of English. As long as the teacher has a spoken and written competence of the language there is no reason to discriminate. I think it is time for Korea to break the monopoly held by English speakers from core English speaking countries. If they accept South Africans, many of who are not native English speakers, they can bring in more Filipinos and Indians as English teachers. (English is one of the official languages of the Philippines and India and not in the USA. Did you know the USA and Australia do not have "official" languages?) Sounding like North Americans or Brits is not and should not be the goal of the E-2 program. It is to bring in people who will help Korean students use ENglish in a meaningful and communicative manner. Competent English teachers from anywhere, be it Finland, Argentina, or China can do that.

http://www.tesol.org/s_tesol/bin.asp?CID=32&DID=5889&DOC=FILE.PDF

Jason said...

Keith, I agree with you on a lot of points. I also think that you points on teaching here are well reasoned, but I disagree with you on the professionalism part.

Any good system should offer its employees professional development, be it paid or un-paid.I agree that a professional should seek to improve themselves but it should be the opportunity of the organization to provide training relevant to the standards of the Ministry of education.

A good teacher will always seek to improve their own skills and abilities but the MOE should provide a framework to facilitate that development. They should take the opportunity to mold the teachers into exactly what they want and allow for their own growth and development.

Bob said...

Ryan G., good point about Aussie English but your first post was horrible. Full of comma splices and awkward word usage. I hope you didn't learn that in Wagga Wagga.

Peter, I don't think it's fair to say that Americans played no role in Korea's single-minded addiction to American English. Americans are not known for accepting other forms of English and, oh yeah, America has a wee bit of clout in Korea. Americans denigrate every other form of English. Don't be surprised when this rubs off on the Koreans. Where do you think Koreans want to go to grad school most of all? It ain't New Zealand.

Bob said...

And, oh yeah. That speech was one of the creepiest pieces of doublespeak I have ever heard. What an ass. The fact that this moron was able to write this in English is the best argument I have ever seen to permanently end English language teaching in Korea as soon as possible.

muckefuck.ca said...

Ryan G

You misread my post. Those who learn English in Europe learn British English, and those who learn English outside of Europe learn American English.
That Australia speaks Australian English is beside the point.

professormuckefuck said...

Bob "Full of comma splices and awkward word usage. "

That is a sentence fragment.

Ryan.G said...

muckefuck.ca:
"those who learn English outside of Europe learn American English."

I actually knew what you meant, and I will say again that what you wrote is not true. Case in point: my Korean wife teaches Australian English in her class, because she has an Australian accent.

I have many Aussie friends teaching "Australian" English in many parts of the world. I stand by my word, that your type of generalisation is extremely close minded. Many people learning English around the world are starting to keep away from the American English accent. Tourism into the US is at a low point, partly due to invasive entry procedures (one of the reason Chicago lost the Olympics).

Oh, and Bob, way to take a single sentence out of proportion. Sure I had one too many commas there, but there is no need to go grammar nazi on me. Just like you shouldn't start a paragraph with the word "And". I respectfully hope you won't do that sort of thing again when your own grammar isn't so perfect either.

Brian Barker said...

Please do not overestimate the international position of English.

In a recent debate in the House of Lords, in London, Lord Harris said -

"Only 6 per cent of the global population are native English speakers and 75 per cent speak no English at all. One telling indicator of the relative influence of English is its declining share of internet traffic. English material on the web has fallen from 51 per cent in 2000 to only 29 per cent in 2009. Over the same period, the amount of material in Chinese rose from only 5 per cent to 20 per cent."
Source: http://www.lordtobyharris.org.uk/as-an-american-once-saidif-the-english-language-was-good-enough-for-jesus-christ-the-house-of-lords-debates-modern-language-skills/

This seems a powerful argument for us to move forward and seriously discuss the solution presented through Esperanto.

Your readers may be interested in http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=_YHALnLV9XU Professor Piron was a former translator at the United Nations.

A glimpse of the language can be seen at http://www.lernu.net

Bill Chapman said...

Sorry, Keith,but Brian Barker was right to suggest that there is an alternative to all this effort to spread a knowledge of English,a particularly difficult language to learn to speak well.

Esperanto does deserve to be used more widely..

fattycat said...

@muckefuck.ca

"Those who learn English in Europe learn British English, and those who learn English outside of Europe learn American English."

And how would you define American English and British English? Is it by the special words that they use in certain cases? If that is true then each region has it's own form of "English". Is is spelling of the words? If yes, then countries like Canada take after the British model and did not learn "American" English. Is it how words are said? ETC ETC ETC.

Peter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter said...

@Bob

American attitudes towards other forms of English don't really factor into this. Generally speaking, Koreans don't study American English to impress Americans - they do it to impress other Koreans. Koreans don't aspire to get into American universities in order to compete with Americans - they do it in order to compete with other Koreans.

Of course the US has had an influence on Korea, as it has had an influence on many countries (for better or for worse). But the fact that Korea has chosen the US as the subject of its obsession, rather than New Zealand or Canada or Ireland, has more to do with Korean ideology than it does with American attitudes towards English.

professormuckefuck.wordpress.com said...

"I actually knew what you meant, and I will say again that what you wrote is not true. Case in point: my Korean wife teaches Australian English in her class, because she has an Australian accent."

Big deal. I am Canadian, but I teach American spelling.
Show me one middle school text book in Korea that uses British spelling, or uses Australian slang/idioms throughout its textbooks, or an exclusive Australian accent on the language tapes/VCR tapes with the text books.


I have many Aussie friends teaching "Australian" English in many parts of the world.

Where? Which country. If they are in Korea, did they tell the VP that they would teach Australian accent exclusively?

Show me one advertisement in any Korean newspaper that asks Only for an Australian accent.

"I stand by my word, that your type of generalisation is extremely close minded."

The only close mindedness is being unable to admit what is so obvious. No one cares about Australian English, or Canadian English around the world. ESL learners in any Asian country, except maybe Hong Kong China, prefer or ask for a standard American accent. How is that close minded? American accent is seen as the standard to learn, except in Europe perhaps, where textbooks are concerned with the UK and its culture.

"Many people learning English around the world are starting to keep away from the American English accent."

No, I don't think so. Show me one statistic that even suggests the number of ESL learners in Australia is greater than ESL learners in the USA.

Why are you so offended that American English is the dominant form taught and learned around the world?

Walter Foreman said...

Actually, on some level, I agree with Professor Kim. Just being a native speaker of English should not be the only qualification for teaching English in Korea.

However, the opposite side of that argument, and something that I think Professor Kim overlooks, is that being a native speaker of English should not preclude people from teaching English in Korea either. Therefore, I disagree with him, when he says:

When we replace "native-speaking English teachers" with bilingual Korean natives we will have teachers we can count on for life.

He seems to be falling prey to the fallacy that Koreans can teach English better in Korea simply because they are Korean and share a common first language with the students. To think in such a way is as erroneous as thinking that native English speakers make better English teachers in Korea simply because they have native speaker knowledge of the target language. Neither argument is valid.

In addition, Professor Kim seems to think, or at least imply, that all Korean teachers of English will remain in the profession until retirement. Of course, this is simply not that case. And, who’s to say that native-speaking English teachers wouldn’t stay in the profession for life if given the chance? The problem is, of course, that because of government regulations, most native-speaking English teachers are not given the chance. Having said that however, it does happen; I personally know people who have been here since the 1970s. I myself have been here since the 90s and plan to be here much longer yet!

Another point on which I feel Professor Kim errs is that foreign English teachers are more costly than Korean teachers of English. He says:

To employ one foreign teacher we need to pay expenses twice more than employing two new Korean teachers.

I challenge Professor Kim to support his claim with facts. The facts I have read from the OECD state that the average salary for a Korean teacher in Korea, with the bare minimum of training, is approximately 31,500 USD (about 36 million KRW). On the EPIK site, a beginning native-speaking English teacher with the bare minimum of training receives a yearly salary of approximately 18,700 USD (about 21.6 million KRW). At the top of the pay scale, the inequality is even more pronounced. The average top pay grade for Korean teachers in Korea is approximately 87,600 USD (about 94 million KRW). Conversely, the top pay grade for native-speaking English teachers in EPIK is approximately 28,000 USD (about 32.4 million KRW). This amount is not even the same as a novice Korean teacher!

Professor Kim also mistakenly suggests that once trained, Korean teachers of English incur no further costs until they retire. Again, I challenge Professor Kim to support this assertion with facts. For the past five years, I’ve been working for a government-sponsored six-month in-service teacher training program. All of the participants in the program are practicing Korean teachers of English. The fee for each trainee is approximately 11,000 USD (about 13 million KRW) for six months of training and is paid for entirely by the Korean government. The 11,000 USD figure does not include the cost of hiring a six-month replacement teacher for each of the nearly 300 teachers per year who take the program. Many of the trainees in the program have taken several such programs throughout their careers.

The last point on which I will challenge Professor Kim is on his contention that, “well-trained Korean teachers can do better in ELT than most foreign teachers.” Does he have any research to support such a claim? If so, I would very much like to read it! The research I presented at the Asia TEFL conference in Bali in 2008 reached a different conclusion. I’d be more than happy to share my research with Professor Kim.

If anyone is interested, the OECD figures I quoted come from here:
http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/32/24/41277858.pdf

3gyupsal said...

Australian, British, and New Zealand English are just forms of English that give Korean students things to whine about when they don't like their teachers fromt that country. (Seriously it happens mostly in colleges. If there is a teacher from one of those countries who is either incompetent or very competent and gives students fair grades, they might use the accent excuse.)

Kieth, you sound like an excellent teacher who probably has a lot of advice for many of us. The problem that I see most pronounced is the fact that curricular leadership for NETs gets passed off to individual schools that might not have any idea as to how to incorporate NETs. It sounds as though you have a good school. I feel that I have a medium school. I have a nice principal and my co-teachers are very nice to me as well. We have made many new programs like various camps and I have done a lot of work over my years at that school to try to come up with new ideas that can be implimented in the classroom..

The problem is that for many schools there seems to be a lack of specific goals. In the case of my school, my co-teachers have a lot of extra administrative work to do so outlining specific goals might be an annoying task to try to do. I suggested it one time, but I don't think they quite caught my drift, and I have come to the conclusion that I should set my own goals. But I think that if the Korean government wants to make their program more successfull, they should consider putting out guidlines for developing course syllibi for each grade so that it gives the Co-teachers, and NETs something to work towards.

At least they should make the text books easier to decode. Speach text books published by British, or North American publishing companies give teachers a good idea of what is to be taught during that lesson, and it can be figured out by looking in the table of contents. One of the text books that the students had for the past 2 years that I worked was absolutely dreadfull, in that there was nothing that could have been learned from the textbook without help from the teacher, and the table of contents simply listed the titles of each lesson.

Luckily our school is phasing out those textbooks for one that is more concise but still has as few flaws.

jay said...

this is an old thread, but Im going to respond to it.

ive been here for 10 years. i like the money and the people dont bother me. im not married, but ive dated. I speak the language and know many things about Korea. i wont lie, i like the money, and being tax free as a US citizen, and the time i get off. ok thats enough.

i work in a private hs. They dont bother me, and I stay clear of them. Theyre happy that Im responsible and I can eat the kimchi, and thats that, no more. I am a whitey, and you know, I didnt go to their army, I dont drink teh sojuz, and whatnot.
No biggie, they want to do that, I want to make money. So....

Am I part of what they do? Maybe. The kids need to have listening in their studies. Im a hell of a storyteller, and I can shred on guitar, so that entertains for hours. I also know a good bit of grammar. Do they ask me about it? Not much. Hardly. I dont teach it either, thats the KT's job. OK. They also dont want to embarrass themselves. Sometimes, when I do answer them, they dont believe me, but luckily the couple of times that happened, I have super fast internet, and they dont argue with the almighty internet. Mostly, they leave me be. Actually, most dont talk to me, and I use Korean in the teachers room, anyway. No biggie.

K-guys arent taught alot about ambitions and goals. Theyre taught rules, and what to do. I hear Epik High talk about how the young kids have no dreams now in Korea. I agree with that. Dreams are part of developing yourself, making yourself an individual. So is language. Language is a means to express yourself. If you have nothing to say of value. Well...thats not for me to judge.

Another important thing is Korean culture is very strict. We all know that. The language is very rigid,a s well. Not very expressive at all. Most of the time, its a set question and a set answer. Little self expression. I think people who stay here will get what i mean. So, KT's speak to students like that, even when they speak English. When I speak, as an American NT, I express many ideas, to try to make my students interested. Ive always said (mostly to myself, not to the KT's) that the problem the the locals experience in not learning English to a decent level of fluency is, #1 they dont have a need to interact with someone who is not from Korea on a meaningful basis (not everyone, but I feel most) and theres not really a way for them to reach outside of their rigid social structure/langauge construct. This is also why I think most NTs here dont learn Korean. Me, as an American, as well as an expressive artist (ha!), found it very difficult to kind of "dumb myself down" cut back on my expressiveness. Question? Answer. Not opinion or answer. I think thats why many foreigners dont learn Korean beyond basic words/intermediate. I leanred for my old job, and I didnt mind. I also speak Japanese rather well, so I felt it was easy-ish to pick up.

Its the emperor's new clothes situation. They dont know the daehanminguk/kimchi pride thing is also the reason they cant advance in English. I think all of this is also the reason the Kyopo population has so many problems. They can see both sides, but they cant assimilate in to Korean side so well. They know too much.

Ok, well ive talked too much, but I hope someone will read this. thanks.