English Language Teaching in Korea – Guest Post by Martin Sketchley (@ELTExperiences)

I would like to thank Martin Sketchley for sharing this fantastic blog post about his time teaching English in Korea. I have really enjoyed reading this – it is so interesting to see how things are teaching in another country. I love the extra reading list as well! Thank you so much, Martin!

Martin Sketchley has been teaching English as a foreign language for six years. He taught for three and a half years in South Korea for various private language institutes. During this period, he was a BULATS Examiner and assisted in introducing the exam to this region of Asia. Martin returned to the UK and recently completed an MA in English Language Teaching at the University of Sussex. Currently, he is a Cambridge ESOL Examiner for B1 and B2 CEF level examinations, works at a local language school in Eastbourne and maintains a blog (www.eltexperiences.com). Finally, Martin is now seeking for a publisher to assist his authoring of a book related to his experiences of language teaching and education in South Korea.

Personal Background to Teaching English in South Korea

Martin at the Wall Street Institute in South Korea

I started teaching English as a foreign language in South Korea in December 2005 unqualified, inexperienced and totally out of my depth. As is common in South Korea, all budding English teachers require a degree in any subject and the enthusiasm to teach young learners or adults in a variety of settings. I started my teaching career teaching young learners and teenagers in a small private school in a small rural Korean village. This provided the beginnings of what is now a rewarding and interesting career. After completing one year of teaching at this small private school, I decided to commence a four week CELTA Course at the British Council in Seoul in February 2007. The rest is, as they say, history.

ELT in South Korea

English was initially introduced to Korea with the use of Christianity between the mid-fourteenth and early twentieth century (1392-1910). After the Japanese colonisation period of Korea (1910-1945), English was reintroduced to South Korea due to the Korean War, directly from the US Army (Shin 2007: pg.77). English Language Teaching was firmly established in South Korea within the 1990s, and prior to this, English was taught predominately by grammar translation and rote memorisation methods. However, Kim Young-Sam (a previous President of South Korea), persuaded the Ministry of Education to adopt a more “communicative English curriculum” (Shin 2007: pg.77). There has been slow change to adopt the ‘communicative approach’ of English language teaching, now commonly referred to as Communicative Language Teaching (CLT), inasmuch that the current President, Lee Myoung-bak, when he first came into power, asserted that the teaching of English should be in English so that Koreans are able to “communicate with Americans” (Shim 2009: pg.106). Consequently, this has implications for not only Native English Teachers (NETs) but also Non-Native English Teachers (NNETs). There is an expectation, due to current political pressure and the recent educational reforms, which encourage NNETs to teach English in their L2. Furthermore, these recent changes urge the Ministry of Education to implement “a national English proficiency examination that concentrates on practical English” (Shim 2009: pg.107). Although educational reforms have been implemented by the Korean Government, a study in 2006 reported that South Koreans spent an annual $15.3bn on private English lessons and $752m on tests such as the TOEFL (Card, 2006). It is believed that “incompetence in English … is claimed to have cost South Korea important business opportunities” (Song 2011: pg.36) and that Koreans have no option but to focus their financial resources to English learning. There are claims that some “parents will spend the equivalent of a month’s salary … on monthly [English] tuition” (Demick, 2002), with some parents deciding on extreme ‘linguistic surgery’ for their children so that they are “better able to pronounce” (ibid.) particular words thereby giving them a more ‘competitive edge’ in English. So how come South Koreans spend so much money on English education? Park (2009) considers the current ‘English fever1’ within South Korea is due to a Korean’s belief that education, albeit English in this case, is regarded as “the most powerful means to achieve upward social mobility and economic prosperity” (ibid. pg.50). The ‘national religion’ of acquiring English in South Korea is a big industry, with many Korean mothers pressurising their children to learn English with the belief that it obviously would improve their future employment prospects (Park 2009: pg.50). However, English in Korea is “a language hardly or never used in everyday communication” (Song 2011: pg.36) but has become an integral measurement in Korean educational performance.

Martin teaching children in South Korea

The English Speaker Model in South Korea

The native speaker model is commonly implemented in South Korea, with Inner Circle teachers being recruited. Kirkpatrick (2007) noted that the Korean Government “decided to employ 1,000 native speaker English teachers in its schools” (ibid. pg.185), with advertisements in various Korean newspapers. There was an advertisement in the Korea Herald (www.koreaherald.com) which sought the following expected native speakers of English:

Type 1 teachers require a Certificate in TESOL or three years full-time teaching experience with a graduate degree in TESOL or experience and interest in Korean culture and language.

Type 2 teachers only have to be native speakers of English with a bachelor’s degree in any field.

(Kirkpatrick 2007: pg.185)

The above advertisement could require Type 1 prospective native teachers, at minimum, to have ‘experience and interest in Korean culture and language’, which was my situation late 2005. However, this raises one important matter whether native teachers, without any formal background or experience in teaching or education, are the best models for English education in the Expanding Circle. Nonetheless, what is and what defines a ‘native speaker’ of English? If English is now the lingua franca, are we not all ‘native speakers’ of a variety of English? A stereotypical ‘native’ speaker of English, in the opinion of South Koreans, is an individual who is considered from the Inner Circle. Kachru & Nelson (2001) refer to a ‘native speaker’ as “someone who learned a language in a natural setting childhood as first or sole language” (ibid. pg.15). However, Medgyes (1992) noted that there is a certain amount of ambiguity by defining the native and non-native speaker (ibid. pg. 340-341). Additionally, issues arise in relation to World Englishes which question “who can be labelled a NS or a NNS because a single norm for standard English no longer exists” (Higgins 2003: pg.616). Higgins (2003) also suggests that in an attempt to move away from the native and non-native speaker model, “scholars have employed a concept of ownership to investigate speakers’ ideological stances toward English” (pg.617). There are critics to the concept of native or non-native ‘ownership of English’, stating “things will fall apart and the [English] language will divide up into mutually unintelligible varieties” (Widdowson 1994: pg.383) if there is any diversification. However, there is some hegemonic assumption that Inner Circle speakers will be communicating with Outer or Expanding Circle speakers, or vice-versa, and, furthermore, to maintain some mutual understanding, Outer or Expanding Circle speakers must employ a normative variety of English to be intelligible with Inner Circle speakers. However, pedagogically, there is a suggestion for English professionals to expose varieties of English in the ESL or EFL classroom. It is noted “that being exposed to several varieties in the classroom can help learners become aware that the success of communication with other English speakers does not necessarily rely on the [expected normative] forms of English they produce” (Suzuki 2010: pg.146). Suzuki (2010) also highlights the lack of teacher awareness, during teacher training programmes, in relation to the diversity of English and the potential effects (ibid. pg.146-151) and she recommends that preparing teachers, as well as learners, for the diversity of English would encourage understanding and appreciation of non-standard varieties of English for both the teacher as well as the learner (Suzuki 2010: pg.152-153). There is additional ambiguity, within South Korea, in classifying a ‘native’ or ‘non-native’ speaker of English, as there could be some countries which use English as an official language, such as in India or Singapore, which may be perceived with less ‘prestige’ due to their ‘endonormative’ variety of English. A news article in early July 2008, from the Philippines, stated that those eligible for a Korean E2, Foreign Language Instructor, Visa to teach English in South Korea include “the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Ireland” (GMA News 2008, www.gmanews.tv) due to their ‘exonormative’ English policy. However, a South Korean news article which was published at the end of 2008 stated that English speakers from the Outer Circle “from India and other countries that use English as an official language will be able to teach at public schools from the following year” (The Korea Times 2008, www.koreatimes.co.kr). This demonstrated that there was some recognition, from the South Korean government as well as parent groups, with particular English speakers from the Outer Circle becoming more acceptable to teach English. Does this demonstrate a greater awareness and acceptability for the diversity of English? Well it is a positive step in the right direction but, as Shin (2007) pointed out, “the NS as an ideal teacher legitimizes the substitution of language politics for racial politics in ELT” (ibid: pg.79). Shim (2002) recognised that within Korea, there was “a strong preference for American English and a unanimous unwillingness to participate in a programme that would introduce them to non-native English varieties” (in Jenkins 2007: pg.101).

Further Reading

Card, J. (2006) Appetite for language costs S Korea dear. London: The Guardian. Available from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2006/dec/15/tefl (accessed 4 April 2011).

Demick, B. (2002) Some in S. Korea Opt for a Trim When English Trips the Tongue. LA: Los Angeles Times. Available from: http://articles.latimes.com/2002/mar/31/news/mn-35590 (accessed 20 April 2011).

GMA News (2008) RP to Korea: Let Pinoys teach English in schools. Manila: GMA News. Available from: http://www.gmanews.tv/print/106224 (accessed 28 April 2011).

Harris, R. (2005) Roadmap to Korea: Everything you ever wanted to know about the language 2nd Edition. Hollym: Seoul, Korea.

Higgins, C. (2003) ‘“Ownership” of English in the Outer Circle: An Alternative to NS-NNS Dichotomy’. TESOL Quarterly, 37(4), pp. 615-644.

Jenkins, J. (2007) English as a Lingua Franca: Attitude and Identity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kachru, B. B. & Nelson, C. L. (2001) ‘World English’ in Burns, A. & Coffin, C. (eds) Analysing English in a Global Context. London: Routledge, pp. 9-25.

Kang, S. W. (2008) Non-Natives Can Become English Teachers. Seoul: The Korean Times. Available from: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2008/12/117_36881.html (accessed 20 April 2011).

Kirkpatrick, A. (2007) World Englishes: Implications for International Communication and English Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Krashen, S. D. (2011) Stephen D Krashen: Dealing with English Fever. Available from: http://www.sdkrashen.com/articles/fever/index.html (accessed 22 April 2011).

Medgyes, P. (1992) ‘Native or non-native: who’s worth more?’ ELT Journal, 46(4), pp. 340-349.

Park, J. K. (2009) ‘‘English fever’ in South Korea: its history and symptoms’. English Today 97, 25(1), pp. 50-57.

Shim, R. J. (2002) ‘Changing attitudes toward TEWOL in Korea’. Journal in Asian Pacific Studies. 12(1) in Jenkins, J. (2007) English as a Lingua Franca: Attitude and Identity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Shim, R. J. (2009) Plenary: Empowering EFL students through teaching World Englishes in IATEFL 2008: Exeter Conference Selections edited by B. Beaven, April 7-11 2008. IATEFL: Kent.

Shin, H. (2007) ‘English Language Teaching in Korea: Toward Globalization or Glocalization?’, in Cummings, J. & Davison, C. (ed.) International Handbook of English Language Teaching. Springer: New York, pp. 75-86.

Song, J. J. (2011) ‘English as an official language in South Korea: Global English or social malady?’ Language Problems & Language Planning, 35(1), pp. 35-55.

Suzuki, A. (2010) ‘Introducing diversity of English in ELT: student teachers’ responses’. ELT Journal. 65(2), pp. 145-153.

Widdowson, H. G. (1994) ‘The Ownership of English’. TESOL Quarterly, 28(2), pp. 377-389.

1 ‘English fever’ was a term coined by Krashen in 2003. It is used to suggest an “overwhelming desire to (1) acquire English, (2) ensure that one’s children acquire English, as a second or foreign language” (http://www.sdkrashen.com/articles/fever/index.html, 2011). English education in South Korea has also been referred to as a ‘national religion’, a ‘craze’ or has a ‘cult-like status’ (Harris 2005: pg.172).

TESOL France 30th Colloquium – Day Three (#TESOLFr)

And after two fantastic days of learning and connecting, the third day arrived which was equally super! There was only one difference though…we were all feeling sad at the end of it, because we would have to end a great conference and say goodbye to very good friends.

Willy Cardoso

The third day started off with a session by Willy Cardoso, Classroom Management – Who’s (Really) in Charge? It was the first time I had attended a talk by Willy. I am a big fan of his blog, Authentic Teaching – if you have not read his posts, I would highly recommend them!

I absolutely loved Willy’s talk. He shared his personal experiences in class with his students in London – Willy told us of how he gave his students ownership of the lessons. They felt comfortable enough to ask him to do something particular they liked in the next lesson and it worked – Willy had the greatest of lessons with them! They were still learning. He also spoke of seating arrangements that he changes all the time according to what he wants to do with students in class. I wish I could have seen one of Willy’s lessons!

Simon Greenall

After that, I had the privilege of attending the talk of a person I have admired for years for his work, and have had the good luck of meeting personally – and is a fantastic person as well – Simon Greenall! Simon talked about a subject very close to my heart, that of culture and diversity, which I have mentioned many times in the past as an integral part of my teaching. In his talk Mind the Gap: Designing Materials and Activities for Intercultural Training, Simon spoke to us about how he has integrated culture in his books and materials – the sensitivity we should have towards people of various cultures in our teaching, in order to pass this on to our students and show them that these cultural differences are important, in order to bring tolerance in our classes.

Arjana Blazič

Another one of my favourite people on Twitter was up next – Arjana Blazič and her workshop Testing, testing, 1 , 2, 3! Arjana is a multi-awarded educator from Croatia with two blogs: her own and one she has organised with her IT specialist at school to help students in their Matura exams.

Arjana, who integrates technology extensively in her classes, introduced us to a multitude of web tools in order to help our students with quizzes and online testing. The great thing was that on these websites teachers and students can be very flexible and create quizzes of their own. Arjana did a great job of pointing out the advantages and disadvantages of these web tools, which ones we could use free of charge and which we have paid versions of. You can see her presentation and all the slides including all the web tools on her blog.

Geoff Tranter

The conference closed with a fantastic plenary by Geoff Tranter, called That’s a Funny way to Learn a Language! Geoff has an amazing sense of humour (which he also showed us during the Open Mic night the evening before) and demonstrated how we can use it in class effectively – he showed us funny acronyms, riddles, funny signs and newspaper headlines we can use in our classes! I liked what Geoff said at one point: If your students are making humorous remarks in a foreign language, you have come a long way with them. I really enjoyed this closing plenary, as it was full of tips and also quite different.

After the conference, the BESIG weekly workshop, with Helen Strong this time, was broadcast in the amphitheatre – some watched it, some of us had to leave Paris unfortunately, and a great conference and very good friends behind.

As a closing treat to these three posts about the respective days of the TESOL France conference, I have some photos for you! I hope you enjoy them.

The Thevenin Amphitheatre filling up
With Sue Lyon-Jones and Sue Annan
With Ania Musielak
With Brad Patterson
With James Taylor
With Arjana Blazic
With Anna Loseva, in front of her poster presentation
With Elizabeth Anne
With Isil Boy
Mike Harrison, James Taylor, Sandy Millin and Sue Lyon-Jones before Ania Musielak’s presentation
A restaurant full of tweeters!

TESOL France 30th Colloquium – Day Two (#TESOLFr)

And after the excitement of Day One…Day Two came along for all of us to learn, connect and have fun!

Mike Harrison

I started my day with Mike Harrison’s super session Before Words: Ideas for Using Images and Sound in the Classroom. It was the first time I had attended Mike’s session and I loved it! I got so many ideas about what you can do with pictures and sound effects in class. We even did a visual poem. I teamed up with Deniz Atesok, a great educator from Turkey in the activities that Mike showed us and we came up with some great ideas! I will definitely be using his ideas with my students – and I will definitely be attending more of his sessions in the future. You can find a plethora of ideas on his great blog! A big thank you to Mike!

Anna Musielak

Right after Mike – the drama specialist and enthusiastic presenter (and very good friend – I am so happy to know her!) Anna Musielak! Ania’s presentation was called Break the Ice with Drama. I had seen Ania last year as well and I could not wait to attend her session this year either!

Ania presented so many ideas, you definitely have to catch her at a conference – her enthusiasm is amazing and so are her ideas, which work with all ages. We took part in many activities and could see in practice how great these ideas are. I loved how Ania’s ideas made everyone so enthusiastic, lots of people volunteered to take part in the activities. Lots and lots of ideas. Ania is also star guest blogger on many blogs, including mine. Her posts are definitely worth reading! Thanks so much, Ania!

Cecilia Lemos

After our lunch break, it was time to see Cecilia Lemos in action in her session, Ideas for Improving Studentsʼ Writing Skills: My Experience. Ceci gave us amazing ideas of how to integrate writing actively in our classes – a skill that has been often disliked by students for the reason that (we have all heard it and Ceci pointed it out as well) they have nothing to write. She introduced us to some nice tips for writing, such as motivating the students into writing the essay paragraph by paragraph wothout even realising it, and then putting them all together to make their very own writing piece – and prove to themselves that they can write! I also like how Ceci told us how she motivates her kids to read – they all read the same book, which she has chosen carefully to be apporopriate for all tastes and for both genders. She has also done a webinar on the same topic which you can see, along with other super posts, on her blog.

Luke Meddings

Right after, it was time for the one and only Luke Meddings and his plenary Dogme and the City.

I really liked how Luke paralleled language learning and teaching and exploring the city of Paris. It was a really great pleasure to listen to Luke and talk to him afterwards – we also enjoyed his Greta Garbo impersonation!

Thanks for a great plenary, Luke! Truly enlightening and I look forward to attending more talks from Luke in the future.

 

Marisa Constantinidis

Then it was time for Marisa Constantinidis – her session was The Reading Challenge: Motivation & creativity in reading lessons. Lots of educators heistate to use reading texts in their classes because they think the students may get bored. Marisa showed us so many ways to utilise texts in class successfuly, and get lots of things from them! She weaved reading texts into so many activities and extended them to speaking as well. I loved Marisa’s ways of motivating students to read – it counts to a great extent on how teachers present a reading text for the students to approach it! A great presentation form a wonderful person and educator! Read Marisa’s excellent blog  for more great ideas – I am giving a link to her very imimportant challenge for people with disabilities, which she pointed out in Paris as well and I believe is a very important issue for all educators to keep in mind.

Ceri Jones

Right after Marisa, the last session of the day I attended was Ceri Jones’s, You’ve Got Mail. She gave us very interesting ideas on how to use e-mail in class, as a means of communication with our students (letting them know what has happened in case of absence, for instance, but also as an exchange of language between the teacher and students). Ceri and her students did an excellent job in extending their linguistic abiltites and improving significantly in writing – something I found very interesting, as I communicate a lot with my students via e-mail, almost on a daily basis. I am definitely taking a lot of ideas from Ceri’s session! Read her super blog Close Up – great work there!

Then we had the Open Mic Night, which was a huge success and so much fun! Lots of singing, juggling, poetry reading – you name it : )

TESOL France 30th Colloquium – Day One (#TESOLFr)

Last year was the first time I attended TESOL France – it was a huge success from many aspects. First of all, the plenaries, workshops and talks were all fantastic and I learned so much. I met a lot of people I had only been interacting with online on Twitter and learned what the face-to-face meetings are really like: a lot of squealing, hugging and “Oh wow! It´s really you!!!!” among ourselves.

Beth Cagnol, TESOL France President (aka Wonderwoman!)

This year, I decided to do the same (well, actually, I had already decided after last year´s colloquium was finished!). I arrived in Paris last Thursday, on a rainy day…but I was so happy to be in Paris! I was positive that Beth Cagnol, the President of TESOL France and a wonderful person and educator, and her great team would prepare three great days for all of us who decided to attend. Which was exactly how things went! Beth opened the conference with a very emotional speech – I think we all had a lump in our throat just listening to her speak. Everyone at TESOL France made us feel so good there and enjoy a fantastic conference! This year I felt like I was returning to a very familiar place where I feel very welcome. Mille merci to everyone at TESOL France!

DAY ONE

Stephen Brewer, Plenary Speaker

On Friday we had the chance to listen to Stephen Brewer´s plenary on  It was the first time I was attending Stephen´s talk – Beth told us a lot of great things that Stephen has done in his career before he started his talk.

I especially liked what Stephen said about language being like music (as he is an amazing pianist himself) – for instance, that in language, as in music, we always have doubts as to how skilled we are, even if we are good at it.

What I also liked were the notions of human agency that Stephen mentioned – the great ability to exercise intentional influence and make choices. Then the inner game came into play – checking http://www.theinnergame.com, I found this definition:

What is The Inner Game?
“There is always an inner game being played in your mind no matter what outer game you are playing. How aware you are of this game can make the difference between success and failure.” -Tim Gallwey
FRIDAY SESSION
Dale Coulter

After Stephen’s plenary, I decided to attend Dale Coulter‘s session and was I ever happy to attend that one! Dale’s talk was Reflective Teacher Practice for Newly Qualified Teachers  – he told us so many things he does daily in his teaching and my aha! moment was when he said he keeps a journal, a normal pencil-and-paper journal. As I told hm after his talk (and I was very fortunate to discuss quite extensively with him), this is my 12th year teaching and I have never ever kept a journal! Dale reassured me it is never too late and I am going to use this idea, for the reason that I am always rather critical of myself when something goes wrong in lessons and I immediately dismiss my ideas. Dale said something amazing in his session: focus on the positive points and what went well and also on what you can improve. The best kind of reflection in my opinion! Read his blog here: http://languagemoments.wordpress.com for more ideas. Thanks so much for a great session, Dale!

At the ETAS SIG Day – Reflecting Along With Anna Musielak, Mike Harrison and James Taylor

Three wonderful people and educators I am happy to have met and be friends with - Ania Musielak, James Taylor and Mike Harrison

September 17, 2011, ETAS SIG (Special Interest Groups) Day: for the first time in the city I live in, Zug!

Super event: lots of speakers and visitors – especially my favourite Twitter people, people I had met last year in Paris at TESOL France, but more that I had not met. Two of them, Mike Harrison and Anna Musielak I had met before and was so happy to see again – and one, James Taylor, I would meet for the first time! It was great to meet him. With these three lovely people, we decided to write a collective blog post in the form of an interview, to reflect on this great event!

James: Apart from giving your own presentations, why did you want to go to the conference?

I wanted to attend the SIG Day because ETAS always does great events, very well-organised, very often and so helpful to our professional development as educators. Another very important reason was to see all my favourite Twitter people – attend their talks and Ken Wilson’s plenary!

Mike: Did anything surprise you about the conference? What and why/why not?

To tell you the truth Mike, I was surprised at the number of people attending from other countries, not only from Switzerland. There were people from all over Europe for this one-day event! It was great.

Ania: Which idea taken from the conference have you already used with your students (or are planning to use)?
I am definitely using Anthony Gaughan‘s student-centered activities which focus on recycling language and Mike Hogan’s on teaching Business English to beginners. Super stuff!
James: Apart from your own presentations, who were you most looking forward to seeing present?
Ken Wilson in action! We all loved his plenary.

I was looking forward to attending Ken’s plenary, which was awesome. Presentations I was looking forward to seeing were Mike Harrison’s, Anna Musielak’s and Vladka Michalkova‘s (but unfortunately, we were all presenting at the same time – terrible!). I was also looking forward to seeing Mike Hogan‘s, which was awesome on teaching Business English to beginners, a truly interesting and original talk. Anthony Gaughan‘s was super – it was the first time I was attending one of his workshops and it was great!

Mike Hogan in his workshop on teaching Business English to beginners

Mike: Tell us one interesting thing you learnt about teaching.

I absolutely loved Anthony Gaughan’s workshop packed with ideas for student-centered teaching (I love learning more about Dogme this period of my teaching life!). It was great, he had us moving around and doing great activities which I have started using with my students as well. I also liked Mike Hogan‘s workshop on teaching Business English to beginners – there are so many ideas to implement with them, and whoever says you cannot teach Business English to beginners, should attend one of Mike’s future presentations on the subject : )
The gang ready to hit the Old Town for the evening!
Ania: Did you have enough time for networking and meeting friends?
Fortunately, yes. The night before the event, it was great to see you, James and Mike and go out to dinner and listen to some music! After the event it was awesome to hang out (at various places, ha ha!) with you, James, Ken, the two Mikes, Andreas Grundtvig, Chuck Sandy, and Vladka. It was great to talk and laugh and smile a lot, a whole lot!I loved everything about ETAS SIG Day: the plenary, the workshops, the interesting discussions and all the fun we had with wonderful people. Ania, Mike and James, thanks so much for this great collaborative post – see you soon!

Mike, James and Ania walking along Lake Zug - hope you all come again!

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