S. Korean teachers union seeks to remove native English instructors from elementary schools

Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union cites dissatisfaction with unskilled foreign teachers and extra workload for Korean instructors

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(Photo by Pixabay user NgoHuuMoi)

(Photo by Pixabay user NgoHuuMoi)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A teachers union in South Korea is reportedly calling for the removal of native English teachers from elementary schools in the country because of what the union believes is an abundance of low quality teachers in Korean public schools.

The Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union (KTU) on Wednesday, Jan. 16 released a statement and called for a discussion on the issue and their proposal with the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education, reports the Korea Times.

The report notes that the dissatisfaction of the KTU with the native English teachers stems in part from government initiatives over the past few years that have dramatically increased the number of native English speakers in the public education system.

Many of these foreign instructors are reportedly failing to meet expectations of the schools and parents, and the KTU claims that they are creating a burden and forcing more work upon the Korean English instructors.

A KTU official was quoted by the Korea Times.

"There have been opinions that the quality of some native English teachers' teaching skills is low, which increases Korean teachers' workload... They can be replaced by Korean teachers, given that what they teach is elementary level English."

The proposal has reportedly drawn some opposition, with a Korean law maker Ha Tae-keung defending the practice by stating that the native English instructors are “popular and helpful” and are a great benefit to low-income families that cannot afford expensive English cram schools.

Recently in Taiwan, the government made declarations that Taiwan hopes to become a bilingual country as soon as possible, with the former Premier even promoting the idea of English as a second official language.

In late 2018, the Taiwan government announced it was planning to increase the number of hours of English taught in elementary school starting in the third grade. The increase the number of subjects taught in English, under curriculum guidelines currently in development, are expected to require estimated 4,600 more foreign English teachers to be hired in schools throughout Taiwan.