Middle, high schools to phase out foreign English teachers
By Kim Bo-eun
Middle and high schools in Seoul will no longer have native English-speaking assistant teachers, as they will be replaced by Korean teachers in an effort to have classes focus on comprehension and grammar.
The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (SMOE) said Monday it will slash the number of assistant teachers at high schools from the current 180 to 20 to 30 next month.
The remaining teachers will work at international high schools and schools focusing on English.
The office also plans to cut the number of native English-speaking assistant teachers at middle schools from 260 to four by next February.
The office has decided to take the measures as enhancing speaking skills is not the priority at secondary schools, which focus more on reading comprehension skills and grammar. However, the teachers will remain at elementary schools, as the English classes there are based on speaking.
The opinion of the parents of secondary school children were also reflected, as they were found to have a preference for English teachers who are Korean.
According to a survey of 11,900 parents, 62.2 percent of the respondents said that an ideal English teacher would be “a skilled Korean instructor who is able to speak good English.”
“It is practically impossible to maintain the current number of assistant teachers, as the city council has already cut the budget. Moreover, the number of young Korean teachers who’ve studied abroad have increased and the certification for Teaching English in English (TEE) is now widespread, so the quality of the English classes will not drop,” said an official.
If the current instructors wish to continue teaching, their teaching records and teaching material will be evaluated.
The native speaking instructors are also currently hired by Seoul City and local authorities and dispatched to schools. SMOE said that the teachers employed by the city and local authorities would also be subject to the cuts with the exception of the Gangnam district which has decided to have 20 instructors.