[EDLING:1282] Language teachers see hardship

Francis M. Hult fmhult at DOLPHIN.UPENN.EDU
Tue Feb 28 15:15:10 UTC 2006

JoongAng Daily


Language teachers see hardship

European tongues lose out to Chinese and Japanese 

February 27, 2006 ¤Ñ Foreign language teachers of European languages such as 
French, German and Spanish are having difficulty in securing jobs at high 
schools as increasing numbers of students choose to study Asian languages as 
their second foreign language. 
For the last three years, no high school has hired a new teacher for European 
languages other than English. Schools offering Chinese as a second foreign 
language increased from 57 in 2003 to 102 in 2005, and those offering Japanese, 
from 117 in 2003 to 165 last year. 
According to the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education, there are an estimated 
400 teachers of German, French and Spanish in Seoul but 36 of them have no 
class to teach. Several teachers are also traveling to two or three schools, 
while others are learning other languages such as English, Japanese and 
Kim Il-hwan, 56, a teacher at Seocho High School in Seoul, goes to Yongsan High 
School two days per week to teach German to third-graders because the teacher 
who previously taught German there transferred to another high school as a 
Japanese teacher. 
"As there is no second-grader who wants to study German, I cannot teach at 
Yongsan High School next year. When I started my teaching career in 1981, there 
were two or three teachers teaching German and French at school." 
Between 2004 and 2005, 29 teachers of a European language other than English 
acquired qualifications to teach English (11), Japanese (7), Chinese (5) and 
Social Studies (7). 
The Education Ministry encourages such teachers to study at graduate schools of 
education by providing 50 percent of their tuition fees. 
Some question whether it is possible for European-language teachers to teach 
Chinese or Japanese after taking only one-year training courses. 
Park Won-hee, president of a Chinese-language teachers' group in Seoul, 
said, "Some Chinese pronunciation is still difficult for me and I have been 
teaching the language for 15 years. Those who have changed their subjects are 
likely only to be able to teach with teaching aids like video clips or CDs." 

by Lee Won-jin <soejung at joongang.co.kr> 

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