Korea to hire fewer native English teachers

November 12, 2013

Education authorities say “Korean English teachers are capable replacements”

Korean education officials believes there's less need for native English teachers in Korea. (Yonhap)

Korean education officials believes there’s less need for native English teachers in Korea. (Yonhap)

By Bahk Eun-ji

Seoul and Gyeonggi Province are reducing the number of native English teachers.

Education authorities say they want to replace them with Korean teachers, but some experts doubt this will be effective.

The Gyeonggi Provincial Office of Education (GPOE) has halved its 2014 budget for foreign English teachers to 12 billion won ($11.3 million) from 23 billion won ($21.6 million) this year. The number of native English teachers will be reduced from 1,207 this year to 746 next year.

The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (SMOE) and its district offices plan to hire 655 foreign teachers next year, compared with 682 this year.

“Apart from costs, more ultimately, Korean English teachers are capable of providing as decent a quality of education as foreign teachers do,” a Gyeonggi official said.

A Seoul education official agreed, pointing out that class sizes are getting smaller, so Korean teachers will be able to teach better, foregoing the need for native teachers. “It is part of our long-term plans to eventually reduce the number of foreign teachers and replace them with Korean teachers, as we have trained Korean teachers to cover the classes foreign ones have been taking care of so far,” said the official from the GPOE.

The official said that Korean teachers also have had opportunities to learn from native teachers that will allow them to offer better English classes to students. Korean teachers’ English abilities are improving, they say, so there is less of a necessity to hire foreign teachers at schools.

Some Korean English teachers in public schools, however, are doubtful if they will be able to cover the role of native English teachers – especially for conversation classes. “I think foreign teachers and Korean teachers have different roles as English teachers. If we can teach reading and grammar more thoroughly, they can teach conversation skills better than us,” said a teacher named Chang working at middle school in Seoul.

“That’s why we still need them in a school. I’m sorry the foreign teachers have to go when the system was about to be stabilized,” Chang added.

Native English teachers agreed.  “If we go back to the original intention of having native English teachers in public schools, then we can see if expectations have been realized,” said a foreign English teacher at a high school in Seoul, asking not to be named. “With respect to the practical use of English, there is very little time during the week for students to express themselves or opportunities like after school programs and club activities. One-class-a-week taught by a native English teacher gives the students very little time to practice skills,” he explained.

He said there are students who are proficient in the use of English, but for many others a native English teacher in school is an opportunity for them to use “real” English.

One Comment

  1. James Satve

    February 6, 2015 at 4:33 AM

    we wants some native english teachers if anyone join us