Sunday, September 28, 2008

When English Teachers Don't Get The Support They Need. . .

My heart sinks every time I read a post like this.  From "I, Foreigner."

Yeah, getting native speaking teachers in every school would help Korea speak English better. . . but there's more to it than just sheer numbers.

My new philosophy is “Do as little as possible”.

If a student asks for help then I will help. If they don’t, then I won’t. I will teach the students who care and claim there wasn’t enough time to give everyone individual attention. The end result will be the same, so why should I stress myself out in a system that cares more about making everyone look good than about what the students learn?

I'm sure Korea's not the only place this happens. . . but wherever it happens, how dispiriting.

Sigh. Hang in there, Otto.


Brian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian said...

Eh, yeah, it sucks to see teachers take that attitude. But put it in the context of his post. We've all been there, and have participated in the exercise in frustration that is often English education here. I know I have, and I routinely feel like foreign teachers in schools here are set up to fail from the beginning.

앤디오빠 said...

I think a lot of people experience the "they don't make an effort so why should I?" thing here in Korea. Depending on where you are and who you're teaching, I agree with Brian in saying that you're set up to fail from the beginning a lot of the time - mainly because many things are lacking - support, resources, backing from boss(es) and staff, just to name a few things.

At least I got the speech from the boss on within the first few hours I arrived of "you're not here to actually teach, you're here so I can make money".

Roboseyo said...

In the public schools, I've heard stories too of Korean co-teachers who used to be the only English teacher at the school, who consider the native speaking foreigner's presence a reproach of their own English ability. . . having to deal with passive aggressive resentment from the only other staff member who speaks reasonable English, and whose job standing improves if he/she can prove the native speaker is ineffectual in their role, would, um, hinder things, too.

JIW said...

It is all really mind boggling. I now don't really consider myself to teaching (that is passing on knowledge in an environment that supports this). Rather I am there to please the children who's mums are picky.

But I have never really complained about the actual teaching part of my job, that is the events inside the classroom. It is the management that is the most irritating.

They explained to me that if I didn't prevent more parent complaints I would be considered for dismissal and now I am being dismissed.

But I think i would like to understand education more here and I can work with it.

Roboseyo said...

Especially in the hogwans, I think of it even more as keeping the parents happy than even the kids: the moms are the ones writing the checks.

One of the reasons I started teaching adults is so that I could deal directly with the customer instead of trying to guess what each mom wanted, when they weren't in the room.

Anonymous said...

At least I got the speech from the boss on within the first few hours I arrived of "you're not here to actually teach, you're here so I can make money".

Korea's ESL industry needs more honesty like this. Just put it on every ESL site that potential teachers may look up.

There'd be less delusionment and bitter resenment all around

Anonymous said...



Ehn... whatever.

Unknown said...

This whole things happened little more that a week ago now. My teacher who helps me is generally not bad, but she is sometimes just very Korean.

I was so upset last week that I actually walked out of a class, but I also had time to think about the whole thing.

I also found out that more people read my blog than I knew. Up to now I thought it was about 10 people. It might be 20.

Over then next month I am going to work on changing my teaching techniques. Someone with experience wrote to me and gave me great advice and recommended a book to look in to, with reason to do so.

Maybe I am not going to do as little as possible, but I am only going to do what is needed. I am not going to work in a way that will disadvantage the students who try. I will just take away the time I give to the students who don't want it and give it to the students who do.

I will still prepare a proper lesson and put a bit of effort in to it. My personality will just not allow me to not care at all. I tried, but it is making me feel even worse.

With a little change and a little less concern for the bad apples, I have reduced my stress greatly and go home feeling much better already.

Roboseyo said...

I really like the comment Jason left on your post about teaching frustrations. Everybody should be so lucky, to get comments like that.