Thursday, November 16, 2006

Teachers Sour Over English Training Plan

A little article in the Korea Times on the response of English teachers to the ministry's audacious plans.
Many Korean English-language teachers are nervous about the planning of the nation's English education system as many of them would face forcible premature retirement unless they can conduct classes in English by 2015.
Those lazy, selfish teachers, always with the griping and the gnashing of teeth.

Here is some context:

There are sound pedagogical approaches that require the use of L1 in language lessons. It's an invaluable teacher resource. Even input-obsessed Stephen Krashen suggests that 10% of teacher talk should be in L1.

Angel Lin in Hong Kong studied language classrooms with students from a disadvantaged socio-economic background, and argues very persuasively that teacher-led discourse can employ strategic use of L1:
what matters is not whether a teacher uses the L1 or the L2 but rather how a teacher uses either language to connect with students and help them transform their attitudes, dispositions, skills, and self-image - their habitus or social world (Lin, A. 1999. Doing-English-Lessons. TESOL Quarterly 33[3] pp. 393-412).
Of course, teachers are again being scapegoated. Kids can't speak English because their teachers can't.

Never mind that the spoken English of 95% of teachers is better than that of 95% of students.

Never mind that the all-powerful CSAT (which is being taken as I type) requires structural proficiency in English, and has nothing whatsoever to do with the ability to communicate in the language.

And never mind that students in many other countries (including China) learn English from a younger age, and devote up to twice the number of classroom hours to the language.

Professional development is always good, even if it's led by a bloated and backward government department. It would be far better if teachers themselves had access to resources sufficient to develop and facilitate such projects, as is the norm in other UNESCO member countries.

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