Korea: Native English Teachers Receive Higher Salaries

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Fri Mar 24 13:39:20 UTC 2006

Forwarded from edling at ccat.sas.upenn.edu

The Korea Times


Native English Teachers Receive Higher Salaries

By Chung Ah-young
Staff Reporter

A 25-year-old American staying in Korea is recently weighing various
options for an English instructor position offered by many private English
institutes. She is an American national and a graduate of Harvard
University, which is a perfect background as a native English instructor
in Korea. She didn¡¯t expect much when she first applied for a temporary
job teaching Korean students in an English language institute. But she is
being unexpectedly welcomed by private English institutes, regardless of
her prior experience as an instructor.

Nowadays, many native English speakers are increasingly in demand in Korea
as provincial and municipal governments vie to establish English immersion
camps and schools are trying to hire instructors as part of strengthening
their English education programs. Particularly, the institutes in southern
Seoul, better known as Kangnam _ an affluent business and residential
region _ are struggling to hire English speakers who are graduates of Ivy
League universities in the U.S. and other English-speaking countries, to
appeal to students and their parents who demand high-quality instruction.
``Recently, many native English-speaking instructors, who are
under-qualified, are causing problems for the institutes. Some foreigners
return to Korea only a few weeks after breaking contracts and start
working again. Many institutes are seeking ways to hire qualified teachers
to raise educational standards,¡¯¡¯ an institute official said.

Well-qualified instructors are paid much higher than less qualified
instructors, according to the institutes. On average, English instructors
with academic degrees from IVY League schools earn about 4 million won a
month, double that of regular English native speakers. However, not only
Ivy League graduates but also regular foreign teachers are enjoying rising
wages due to a soaring demand for native English teachers in schools,
English immersion camps and institutes. Native English speakers are now
paid about 2.2-2.8 million won from an average 2 million won earlier.

However, the rise in their salaries is likely leading to the hike in
tuition fees in the institutes. ``It might be inevitable that institutes
raise tuition fees if the salaries for foreign teachers are on the
rise,¡¯¡¯ an institute official said. According to the Ministry of
Justice, the number of foreigners with an E-2 visa, a one-year work permit
visa issued to foreigners working as English instructors, rose from 10,822
in 2003 to 12,000 last year. However, the estimated total hovers around
30,000, including illegal foreign workers with tourism visas.

As demand for foreign teachers continues to rise, their salaries increase
too. Worse, the government¡¯s crackdown on illegal and unqualified foreign
instructors, which was stepped up last year, also pushes the salaries up.
The government clamps down on unqualified foreign instructors, as they
work for the institutes without even a reference check. Under the current
law, a foreigner can start over with a new E-2 visa in another workplace
after the previous work visa becomes null. An English immersion camp,
which will open in Paju, Kyonggi Province next month, will pay about
2.7-2.8 million won a month each for about 140 foreign instructors.

They will also be provided accommodation and flight ticket fees. An
official of the camp said that the salary is expected to go up if it hires
qualified teachers with English education academic backgrounds and
teaching experience. A local teaching material company, Woongjin Think
Big, is currently recruiting foreign teachers with incentives such as tour
packages around Korea every two months.

The company will operate an English immersion camp in Inchon, just west of
Seoul, after remodeling Changsin Elementary School. ``Then, the total cost
of hiring teachers will be higher than other institutes because the cost
includes the tour packages,¡¯¡¯ a company official said. In other
non-English speaking countries, the English teaching job market is very
competitive. Most schools and other institutions require teaching
experience from a reputable institution for a certain number of years.
Most candidates are expected to teach sample lessons or complete grammar
exams before hiring decisions are made.

But in Korea, there is less focus on proving teachers¡¯ skills and
capacity since an English education boom in 1997 has brought an influx of
foreigners eager to teach and earn money, combined with Korean parents¡¯
enthusiasm for English education.

chungay at koreatimes.co.kr

03-19-2006 17:58

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