Monday, February 8, 2010

Disposable Teachers

Native English teachers are and will always be disposable to EPIK, GEPIK, SMOE, and any other teaching program in Korea.

Native teachers do not have rights as long as Korean schools dangle everything over native teachers' heads and hint at mistreatment down the line. They control too much about your contract; they will use the ambiguous contract wording and lack of actual contract checks and balances to their advantage. So much for decency; you're a pawn to be pushed at their whim.

Isn't it strange that most countries around the world strictly follow contractual obligations, yet many of Korea's schools still seem to think it is still mere child's play. I would easily say there are many who have been mistreated at the hands of their employers and co-workers; It's not as if there is any REAL way of getting help without retaliation from your school in the future.

Too much power is in the wrong hands.
Too little is there to support native English teachers.
Too much of the native English teaching contract is designed to quickly dispose of and replace teachers.

When I say native English teachers, I mean people who have the potential to be good teachers, but are surrounded by an environment that says, "Leave, we don't want you here." You won't get training, you might get a caring Korean teacher that might do some actual work (but it's highly unlikely), you will get a large majority of students and Korean English teachers that see you as irrelevant (there is no important standardized test for verbal speaking), you will get mistreated and forgotten daily.

Do not go to Korea to teach English, no matter how much money they dangle in front of you. They haven't put any real thought into protecting you from the corruption that still prevails in Korea's mismanagement of resources, workers, and, of course, you.

One day this may all change, but until then the misconduct continues...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

[Video] Typical Co-teaching

So, you want to teach in Korea? These are some very typical videos of how Korean co-teachers "work together" with native English teachers. Their slogan should be "Teach in Korea: Get Screwed."

I highly recommend everyone video tape their co-teachers in action (in-action or lack thereof). Maybe a lot of the Korean English teachers would actually do what they're supposed to do.

Letting people know about it sure doesn't do anything. I notified the co-teachers, the principal, Gepik reps. Most people would rather allow it to go on, that try to fix it.

Korean English Teacher 1

Korean English Teacher 2

Just keep in mind, these videos are roughly 7-9 minutes of a 45 minute class; these were made in the beginning of the 2nd half of the school year / contract year. There are 20+ classes exactly like this in a week; the contracts go for a year. Let me repeat that, every class that you have will be like this. The Korean co-teachers exert minimal effort across the board and use the excuse that all the other schools do it that same way. This means that Korea has one hell of a problem with it's English education and fulfilling contractual obligations. It's widespread, won't be fixed anytime soon, and there is very little a native English teacher can do to stop it.

One major lesson the Korean English teachers need to learn: as a teacher you're supposed to actually try to teach and serve the students needs, not serve your own selfish desires to be lazy.

[Demonstration Video] [Will be added at a later date...]

This is a video of my demonstration. It is a demonstration that is made to be an extravagant. It is made to pretend to be a depiction of how native English teachers and Korean English teachers work together as they are supposed to. I already wrote a lengthy prose about this situation [Link].

I will say that I, like most native teachers, ended up making the majority of it myself. The Korean co-teacher, for the first time ever, when watched by others, pretends to work together. She ended up forcing herself into more of a dominant role in the demonstration, but was criticized by Korean teachers from other schools because the demonstration is supposed to be about how we teach and how the Korean teachers support us, not the other way around (which still doesn't follow the contract, since we're supposed to be the assistant teachers...). But, it's very easy to see the extreme difference in what they pretend goes on in the classrooms and what actually goes on in the classrooms based on comparing this video to the ones above.

It is a clear example of how Korean English teachers will use and manipulate native teachers for their own personal gain / to look better in their own careers. They will only pretend to do what they are supposed to when others are watching. At all other times, they will do nothing at all.

A typical school class 'co-teaching' with a Korean English teacher.

Korean co-teacher
67+% standing/sitting doing nothing
2 % talking in korean
0 % talking in English
0 % actual teaching or effort

Native co-teacher (Me)
100% Powerpoint creation
100% finding/photocopying worksheets
100% lesson planning
100% actual teaching / class lecture
90+% constant movement around the classroom
90+% talking to students in English

The top two videos were an end of 2009 video of English as a second language "co-teaching" with Korean teachers in Korea at a public middle school (GEPIK). According to contract, native English speakers are supposed to be the assistant teachers and Korean teachers are supposed to help us make lesson plans which also never happens. The Korean teacher stands absolutely still typically more than 2/3rds of the class time and almost never talk. This scenario, albeit very unjust, is fairly common.

Do not trust Korean contracts regarding teaching ESL in Korea. They are vague, not worth the paper they are written on, and are purposely made to leave out numerous minor and important details. Contracts are a bait and switch scam to get you to Korea and then mistreat you after you have invested your time and effort and gone past the point of no return. There are no checks and balances to ensure your well-being.

English native teachers are disposable in Korea. DO NOT think you will be treated fairly. DO NOT teach English in Korea. They will not treat you with respect behind the closed doors of the still very individually managed schools. Korea is still knee-deep in its archaic, male-dominated, and hierarchical system of management.

Korean co-teachers will try very hard to hide their laziness. Just to remind you, they get a college degree and teaching certificate in teaching English, they get to go to numerous seminars, and have many years of hands on practice. What do they do with all this experience and training? Absolutely nothing. I even had Korean co-teachers that wouldn't hand out papers unless I forced them to.

You, meanwhile, have none and have come to Korea to teach because supposedly you don't need any experience and they will train you (not). Teachers are still highly regarded in Korean society without any concept of what actually goes on.

These videos were made with veteran Korean co-teachers after many months of being together. I had six Korean co-teachers; all were fairly similar in their lack of usefulness/effort. All efforts made to try to fix the obvious unbalance of work are met with organizational resistance which will inevitably label you an outcast by the co-teachers that are supposed to help you, but usually don't. There are no places to speak out about this injustice since those that you turn to will tell you to "grin and bear it."