According to the Korea Times National, foreign English teachers are not only wanted, but are needed. Although the government has recently moved to reduce the number of foreign teachers, parents are arguing for them. The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education conducted a study that found that 62.4 percent of parents felt that native English teachers are necessary at local elementary, middle and high schools.
More than half of [parents] also answered that foreign English teachers’ placement at local schools was effective and 67.7 percent said they were mostly needed in elementary schools.
Korean teachers were also positive about foreigners’ role as assistant English teachers. Most of the respondents said foreign teachers were most effective for areas such as speaking, listening and pronunciation.
However, the respondents limited the effectiveness of foreign teachers to academically well-performing students such as those in the high ranking (46.2 percent) or the top level (30.6 percent) categories.
Most of them also preferred the placement of native English teachers at only elementary and middle schools.
More than 81 percent of foreign English teachers replied that they believe students are satisfied with their classes. About 90 percent of foreign teachers also said they are making a contribution to improving students’ English proficiency.
Some students disagree. “I had a class taught by a native teacher in middle school but I don’t think the teacher was very helpful. Personally, I think Korean teachers are more helpful in preparing for exams,” said Chung Yoon-sik, a high school senior at Choong Ang High School. This may be due to differences in focus on subject matter, culture, or examination preparation. Indeed, many American students are taught in preparation for examinations on the state or national level. This competition can be more intense in Asian countries.
The majority of parents (62.2 percent) also answered that the ideal type of English teachers at schools are “Koreans who are proficient in English communication skills and good at teaching.”
“In the long run, we need more Korean teachers who are well-trained and have excellent English skills. We need to improve the English capacity and quality of our Korean teachers to meet the demands of students and parents,” an official from the education office said.
A parent of a high school student who used to run a private English institute said, “I think foreign teachers are good for students to get used to foreigners and learn their culture but they’re not that helpful to beginners because they don’t understand well. Learning for one or two hours a week isn’t too helpful for these students. The best case scenario is increasing the number of Korean teachers who are proficient in spoken English so that they can guide these students.”