Sunday, December 28, 2008

English essay-writing and teaching method exams to applicants when hiring English teachers???

I'm confused . . . the article here talks about hiring Indians to teach in Seoul . . . and at the end of the article it drops this little gem,

"Meanwhile, the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education announced yesterday that it will administer English essay-writing and teaching method exams to applicants when hiring English teachers, starting from next year." (my bold)

It seems like this is for native English teachers . . . lol.

If they use teaching method exams based on the Korean education system NOBODY from outside Korea will pass--NOBODY.



Brian said...

Wow, you're pretty busy these days with the posts.

I don't know who those tests are for. By the same token, if they required English written exams of Korean English teachers, Lord knows what the results would be.

I've said it time and time and tim again, and will continue to say it every time this crap comes up . . . the government shouldn't be on about "unqualified" teachers when it's the itself that sets the qualifications. And if these tests are for foreign teachers, they can't expect teachers to be trained without training opportunities. If I were elected Foreign Teacher President, the first thing I'd do would be implement a standardized professional development system that would offer training, would offer opportunities for extracurricular advanced degrees, and would reward teachers accordingly with higher salaries and an increased role in the system.

I wonder how things look on your end, since you're actually a "real" teacher. Or at least I assumed you were a teacher from back home from some of your posts. Does this "unqualified" business get under your skin, too?

Jason said...


I think I'll write a post later this week about "qualified" and "unqualified" in Korea.

As for my own "qualifications" . . . I've worked my way up from the public school system to the national university of education position I have now. I can't go any "higher" (which is not how I think of hogwan, public school, training centers, and university--each has its own merits and issues) in terms of ESL/EFL positions in Korea unless I get an MA in TESOL (the most preferred), or an MA in Education or Linguistics. I have no interest in pursuing a long term career in teaching ESL/EFL so those are out for me. The ESL/EFL gig is just to pay off the student loans I got saddled with in Canadian university.

Right now when I teach "university" I feel like I'm teaching middle school/high school level English content with the curriculum being focused on prepping future elementary Korean teachers--in my mind this is NOT teaching "university" because I want to teach literature and literary theory. It is, however, teaching university for those of us that want a career in ESL/EFL so I won't dismiss that area of academia because I know how much talent, discipline, training, and so on and so forth it takes to teach what some might call 'lower level' English teaching.

Anyways, I think it's funny to see how much I can blog in a single day when I'm not within the day to day grind of teaching a semester of university. It reminds me that public school teaching positions have at MINIMUM 18 hours a week that you can do whatever you want to do, i.e. blogging, and that when you factor in all of the canceled classes because KETs want to prep students for the TESTED material the number of paid hours for being in a school at your desk doing whatever you want to do explode to a higher number over the course of a year . . . I actually only teach 16 hours of lecture per week--but I always seem to be trying to improve the curriculum by developing new materials, reading teaching methodology and looking through the resource books I have for new ideas, etc. It's something that's given me a lot to think about as in some ways it's 'wasting time' when I could be reading for the future grad work I want to do--but in other ways it's just 'who I am' as a teacher.

Simply put, the 'unqualified' discourse that is so pervasive in the Korean English online media just makes me laugh. I can't take something like this seriously after having seen the realities of Koreans who have PhDs, MAs in TESOL, and 'professional' teaching licenses in public schools, training centers, and universities--it's pretty much the same in a very generalized way as foreign people with the same set of papers--some are talented and truly earned the degrees/diplomas, and others are what I would call 'technicians' who punch in and punch out while going through the motions and lack the artistry and magic of a 'true teacher.'

I believe that if inspection panels of foreign PhD professors in Linguistics, TESOL, and English were set up in each province of Korea and asked to examine all of the Master theses and PhD dissertations that the resulting scandal would destroy the academic foundations of this country--and then the nation would be forced to spend some time looking in a mirror of authentic self-awareness that might lead to some kind of changes . . . though I don't think it'd be any different . . . anyways, this comment is turning into a blog . . .lol.


Brian said...

Cool, thanks, I'll be looking forward to reading that post.

To be fair, though, I teach 26 classes a week, and spend another couple hours a week making lesson plans, grading homework, and organizing other stuff for school. True, a lot of that time is spent undoing plans I made earlier, since the school has it in their heads to do it totally differently now . . . for example the homework worksheets I made throughout the year and spent hours a week grading (I have 1,600 students) because the teachers wanted to count it toward the students' "attitude" grades . . . the teachers didn't even bother looking at them. And the stuff I spent last week making for the school's English Theme Room at the festival didn't get used either.

But I do enjoy being busy at school, both because it's really really boring to try and study KOrean all day, and also because it makes me feel like I've actually been hired to do my job. When I don't have anything to do I never get around to studying as much as I'd like, but I end up blogging because at least it's productive.