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English teacher dropout rates raise alarm bells

Oct 01,2010
More than a third of native-speaking English teachers in South Korea quit after six months or so on the job, challenging the effectiveness of language immersion programs installed nationwide, a report said Wednesday.

The report submitted to the National Assembly by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology showed 42.4 percent of native instructors last year ended their contract after six months, up from 34 percent in 2008.

The rate again fell to 34 percent as of the end of July of this year.

About 22 percent of them quit to study or because they find other jobs, while an average of 15.4 percent left without prior notice, the report said.

To save spending on overseas education and create a better English-speaking environment, elementary, middle and high schools have been hiring native English speakers to assist Korean teachers in classrooms.

According to the ministry’s data, about 80 percent of schools nationwide have assigned language assistant teachers this year, a sharp surge compared to 48 percent in 2007.

The report also revealed wide gaps in the dropout rate of the English-speaking teachers, the size of their manpower pool and the number of certified staff among South Korea’s provinces.

The dropout rate was highest in the southern industrial city of Ulsan at 90 percent, while it was below average in Seoul and adjacent metropolitan areas.

The student-teacher ratio also widely differed, ranging from 1,552 students per instructor in Daegu to 778 to one in Seoul.

In some regions, less than 30 percent of hired native English speakers had teaching certifications from their home country, the report said.

“The government will more thoroughly examine English teacher candidates’ vocational enthusiasm and intention for long-term service,” said an official at the Education Ministry. “Our English education policy is not entirely based on the hiring of native English teachers. But the government will strive to reduce regional divide in education by native English teachers.”


Yonhap



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