New Strategy for English Teachers
By Atticus Finch
I am a native speaking English teacher. I am currently working at a middle school in Seoul. I have been teaching English at the school for one year and three months now.
This letter is in response to Kang Eun-hee's article titled ``Korean English Teachers'' published Nov. 23 under the ``Thoughts of the Times'' opinion column in The Korea Times.
Kang Eun-hee wrote, ``It's not easy for the native English teachers to understand the student's personality.'' I couldn't agree more with her on this point since Korean teachers spend more class time with students.
They also have the ability to communicate more efficiently with students and parents. Additionally, native teachers have a very limited role in formally assessing student performance.
It is clear that the writer of this article is concerned about the ability and necessity of native teachers. However, she fails to acknowledge that Koreans would not have had to worry about wasting the national treasury in the long term if only she and other Korean English teachers had done their job adequately to begin with.
Students need English instruction and practice in the skill areas of speaking and listening, and it's nearly impossible to improve these skills when Korean English teachers refuse to speak or require students to speak English in their classrooms.
Why should Korean English teachers put themselves through the trouble of doing this? They passed an exam to become a teacher in the first place. That's not an easy thing to do.
Besides, when an individual gets a job as a certified public school teacher, he or she can focus primarily on the easier skill area of reading and develop exams that conveniently assess student reading abilities.
Students can perform well on these exams since they focus only on one area of English, but students cannot perform well in other areas because Korean teachers are failing to effectively teach and assess listening, speaking, and writing. Unfortunately, no one is holding teachers accountable.
Simply put, Korean English teachers have not been held accountable for their teaching, and students' learning needs are not being met. The Korean government has responded to this problem by bringing in native teachers, but even with this new strategy accountability is lacking.
Without more thoughtful organization, planning, and support this new native teacher strategy will also fail.
Now, I see nothing wrong the writer's idea of training Korean English teachers to become more proficient in English and teaching methodologies.
However, I don't believe Korean English teachers will change their practices inside classrooms unless the government adopts a system to hold them accountable. Without such measures the government is wasting the national treasury in the long term on both Korean English teachers and native teachers.
Atticus Finch can be reached at email@example.com.