By Michael A. Stevens
I would like to reply to a May 12 article in the Letters to the Editor section, ``How to Recruit English Teachers,'' as we all know the hagwon (private language institutes) system of employment is its own worse enemy.
There is nothing much the Korean government can do to either force private institutes not to hire who they believe will make them the most money, even if they are not the best qualified to teach, or to force mothers to change their attitudes toward the belief that white male or females from Canada or America are the best speakers of English.
However, the government does have the power to enforce the public school system and private foreign schools to only hire teachers who are both qualified and have the experience in teaching, and the Korean Teacher's Union (KTU) should demand it.
Nevertheless, with qualifications such as teaching degrees and experience comes a need to adequately compensate teachers so that they see a reason to continue to teach in a foreign country.
With years of service comes dedication and an understanding of the principles required to teach Korean students. The writer of the letter, Han Ji-hui, is right to say that four to six weeks of orientation is not enough time to learn how to teach Korean students.
However, it is a good starting point and must not be phased out. What is truly needed is the retention of good teachers and the best way to retain these qualified teachers is for them to find a home in Korea. They do this by being able to support a family and feel as if they are respected as an educator.
In addition Korea should enable foreign teachers to have the opportunity to have permit resident status if they so desire.
Korean teachers should not be forced to work alongside foreign teachers who have a substandard education themselves. The KTU would never permit a Korean teacher to work in a public school if they did not have at least a basic teacher's degree from an accredited university.
So why do they let foreign teachers do so. This is outrageous and Korean parents should demand that these teachers either continue their education or withdraw into the private sector.
I know this will outrage many foreign teachers who are now currently working in the Korean public school system, but they must keep in mind that schools in America and Europe also require teachers to continue their education long after finding employment in a school.
This is not trying to force Korea to adopt Western type education this is just common sense. If Korea wants good teachers who happen to be foreigners, the nation must demand teachers to have the qualifications for employment in a school.
To conclude this article I would like to make a comment about what Han had to say about the increase number of ``foreign instructors who commit sexual crimes or take drugs.''
There will also be a very small number of teachers who are ethically or morally unqualified to teach. They include Korean teachers not just foreign teachers and to state such a thing is foolish because it makes all teachers look bad when this is clearly not the case.
It is wrong for Han to imply that background checks will solve this problem, as they do not necessarily resolve this dilemma.
The writer is a Christian teacher living in Guri, Gyeonggi Province. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.