[Letters] Advice for hiring native English teachersI just finished reading your article (Jan. 3) on native high school English teachers. I taught last year at Hye Hwa Girls High School. In order to be a teacher you need to be dedicated to education; it is not an easy job, especially in high schools. There are a few things I think should be considered when the government discusses the efficiency of high school native English teachers.
The first thing to be taken in to consideration is that many of our classes can reach up to 40 students. Often these classes are mixed levels which makes it difficult to cater to the needs of the students. As a result, the advanced students are often left unchallenged, the midlevel students improve somewhat and the lower level students are left by the wayside. At Hye Hwa we are lucky to have excellent Korean English Teachers who speak very fluent English, but that is not the situation in all schools.
Another thing to take in to consideration is that high schools teachers often only see their students once a week! With this kind of frequency and class size how can we ever build relationships with our students? Yet another point is that teachers are generally brought in during the month of August, the middle of the school year. Therefore, as soon as we get to know some of our students and get into a rhythm, the entire schedule is changed.
I have teaching experience from pre-K to high school as well as a graduate degree in human rights education and curriculum. I am currently enrolled in another graduate program studying social studies education and curriculum and in my professional opinion the problem here is not with the native English teachers. If the Department of Education really wants to develop their English program, they need the input of both native and Korean English teachers. They must also lower the class size, give special help to students who need it, allow the native teachers to see their students more frequently and develop a better curriculum.
On the other side, native teachers need to be committed to their students and their school. They need to have the same responsibilities and authority as the Korean English teachers and vice versa. The department of education should also remember that native teachers are educating their students in language as well as western culture.
I really loved teaching at Hye Hwa and I’m very sad that so many teachers will be losing their jobs. I hope the department of education either reconsiders or sees the folly of their actions in the near future.
MaryBeth Yerdon, former English teacher at Hye Hwa Girls High School