Middle schools to have native English speakers,
May 30, 2005
By Bae Keun-min
All middle schools will have at least one native English speaker as an
assistant teacher by 2010 to help students improve communication skills.
The curriculum for English language education in elementary, middle and
high schools will be changed to focus more on nurturing speaking and listening
The Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development plans to
increase the number of native English teachers from the current 221 to at least
2,850 over the next five years, according to its plan for English language
It will first implement the plan in rural areas, where students have been
disadvantaged in English language study.
The ministry will also expand the number of assistant English teachers by
236 for elementary schools and 244 for high schools, in accordance with budget
and workforce plans of city and provincial education offices.
The ministry will educate assistant teachers in basic Korean language and
culture before they are appointed to a school. It will also periodically host
workshops to evaluate and train teachers further.
Textbooks and curriculums for English language education will be changed
so more emphasis is placed on speaking and listening. Students will be evaluated
based on their performance in communication.
The government plans to encourage local education offices to consolidate
the advantage system for Korean English language teachers, in which those who
score high points in such English proficiency tests as TOEFL, TOEIC and TEPS
(test of English proficiency developed by Seoul National University) receive
bonus points in recruitment.
Korean teachers will also have opportunities for longer-term overseas
training programs to improve their English skills. Currently the training
programs are for less than six months.
The government will provide a variety of learning opportunities, in which
students will be able to practice their English skills in real situations.
The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education has implemented its
plan to hire 920 native speakers of English by 2009 for all elementary and
In March, the office positioned 100 native English teachers in primary and
Post-script: Doing the
math. The cost of importing foreign teachers for only one year could be invested
in a fund that would guarantee a steady supply of English books and materials
indefinitely. If each foreign teacher costs about US 100,000 per year for
salary, benefits and training (a modest estimate), 2500 teachers will cost about
US 250 million for just the first year. Investigating this sum at 5% would yield
over 10 million US dollars per year, or 1000 US dollars for each elementary and
middle school in Korea each year, forever, to invest in English books and other