Click to enlarge.
k, that's not helping.
If you search for "English" on CareerBuilder or Monster, Korean EFL recruiters are atop the search results, regardless of location. Gee, I think I'll go with the one that says
"Over 100,000 English teachers are currently beign employed in Korea"
ALL MAJORES WELCOM... NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY!
Anyway, a poster on Dave's ESL Cafe shares this May 20th New York Times story, "Teachers Facing Weakest Market in Years," and asks
Wonder how this will influence the market for qualified teachers in Korea.
It won't have any effect on qualified teachers in Korea.
Browse recruiter websites, whether the ones I found in my job search here or the ones Google gives you, and you'll find most if not all advertise things like "No experience necessary" or "all majors welcome" or "ALL MAJORES WELCOM."
In a May 2009 post I noted that when bitching about "unqualified" foreign English teachers you have to look at how recruiters are selling Korea to applicants. Park English, which for a while was spamming me with teacher resumes, sent me an advertisement last May with the headline "What's in your future after graduation? How Would You Like To Travel & Teach in South Korea?" Elsewhere on the page it gives answers to "Why Korea?"
-Annual salary of US $24-35K at 30 hrs/wk
-Renewable 12-month contract
-Gain international experience while enriching students lives
-Safe, modern country with the highest investment in private education in the world
-Intriguing language, rich culture and central location for continued travel in Asia
-Great ongoing positions available year-round
-FREE furnished housing, FREE round-trip airfare, paid holidays, health insurance coverage, etc.
-Save up to $15K/year
ESL Park, the recruiter I found via CareerBuilder telling us that ALL MAJORES WELCOM, asks on its homepage
Are you a University graduate?
Are you looking for a great adventure?
Do you want to Travel and make money?
CraigsKorea, another recruiter advertising on CareerBuilder, has in the top right corner of its homepage
Are you looking for great
adventure? Do you want to
Travel and make Money?
All Bachelor degree Holders
are Welcome to Korea Now!
Whether teaching in Korea is "real teaching" is beyond the scope of this post, and has already been the subject of a bajillion messageboard threads and blog entries already. The point is if the companies put in charge of hiring native speaker English teachers are selling it as a place to travel and make money, Korean administrators ought to expect their hires to view the job as a means to travel and make money. We would certainly want incoming teachers to have a sense of duty and professionalism---the quote-unquote professionalism of the EFL business in Korea is definitely up for debate---but the middle(wo)men aren't trying to appeal to teachers' professional development.
I think newly-graduated teachers from the US and other countries might give South Korea and Asia a second look. Spending a year or two overseas teaching English as a certified, credentialed teacher might be preferrable to spending a year or two unemployed, or underemployed, or substitute teaching, or working in an unrelated industry. "Teaching" "English" in a Korean cramschool or working as a native speaker assistant teacher in a public school is hardly the same as teaching your subject back home, and there's no guarantee potential employers are going to be impressed with your international experience. But even though salaries in Korea's EFL industry have been stagnant for years, and the start-up costs for new teachers have gone up, it still remains a good deal for a 22-year-old.
That's good, because schools and recruiters pretty much just want 22-year-olds. Last month I posted about English Program in Korea [EPIK], Gyeonggi English Program in Korea [GEPIK], and the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education [SMOE] not wanting to hire older, experienced, "qualified" teachers because they are unable and unwilling to pay them. I'll have an update to that news in the near future, but just to refresh a reader forwarded me an email from WorknPlay Consulting, about the chances of a 53-year-old teacher with four years experience with GEPIK finding something in Seoul or Bundang:
I know many experience teachers are having hard time to find a job in Korea because of their age. And it’s very hard for a recruiter to promise that I can find her job in or around Seoul. GEPIK has cut down on their budget for native English speaker teachers from this coming semester and now they can’t afford higher level teachers.
Another recruiter, Korvia, says on its website that teachers over 50 "may be excluded for the selection process" by the three organizations, with the EPIK official website saying teachers are to "Be a maximum of 55 years of age".
It wouldn't make financial sense for most 50-year-old teachers in the US to leave their jobs and move to South Korea, and fiftysomething teachers who find themselves unemployed aren't likely to have the freedom to pick up and move halfway across the world, even if public schools would hire them and even if schools would pay them more than $30,000 per year. But the policies of these organizations, and the recruiters that hire for them, damage the industry by preventing teachers with experience in Korea from staying with their schools, and ultimately staying in Korea. However, as everybody saw from that April post, and as everybody has been saying for years, it doesn't really matter if native speaker English teachers here are "experienced" or "qualified," and the role a 22-year-old biology major plays in the classroom is essentially the same as a teacher with experience and training. South Korea is potentially missing out on an opportunity to attract trained teachers to its schools, but a lot about the English business here would have to change to accomodate them, a change that people with experience in Korea know isn't coming anytime soon. In fact, I would be surprised if the native speaker English teacher experiment lasts another five years in South Korean public schools.
Browse the "English in the news" category for more posts on English and English education in South Korea, and see the following selection for discussion on the issues and challenges faced by native speaker English teachers there.
* (3/19/2010) Korea's robot English teachers won't go away.
* (12/3/2009) Are native speakers part of English here? Your thoughts on the 2009 GETA International Conference.
* (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."