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Native English speaker for every Seoul school

Apr 04,2018
Starting from next year, native English-speaking teachers will be employed in all public elementary schools in Seoul for the first time, an attempt to narrow the gap in language skills among students caused by private tutoring.

The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education said Tuesday that each school will also be given 1 million won ($950) to buy teaching materials and develop a curriculum that teaches English in an interactive, experience-oriented manner.

The education office released its plan to narrow the gap in English skills among students, only some of who can afford private academies and tutors. English classes in Korean schools start in the third grade.

It is also trying to alleviate concerns among parents following a ban on after-school English education for first and second graders issued by the Ministry of Education last year, which came into effect in the school year that began last month. Parents were concerned that their kids would suffer in their English skills ? and that they would have to resort to private education because of the ban.

According to the education office’s plan, starting form 2019, native English-speaking teaching assistants will be assigned to all public elementary schools in Seoul. There are currently 561 public elementary schools in Seoul, of which 351 have native English-speaking teachers.

The city’s education office will recruit 100 more native English-speakers to work at the 210 elementary schools that do not employ a native-speaker teacher.

The move is expected to enable all students in Seoul elementary schools to receive lessons from a native-speaker in class and in after-school sessions, as well as have access to school-run English camps during vacations.

The office also plans to review and compile private English language programs like EBS Chomokdal, EBS Reading Club and Smart Wisecamp and provide their content on an open platform. The education office will supplement the cost of using the content to enable students to have free access to a more diverse English curriculum.

For students entering the third grade who are studying English for the first time, the office plans to change the lecture-style lessons and encourage interactive learning with the 1 million won support per school.

It will also provide opportunities for fourth to sixth graders to attend English camps, including one in the Seoul English Education Center in Gapyeong, Gyeonggi, and the Seoul English Village in Suyu, Gangbuk District, northern Seoul.

“Many parents have been anxious about their child’s English education after the ban on after-school English lessons for first and second graders,” said Cho Heeyeon, superintendent of the Seoul Metropolitan Education Office. “We are seeking diverse methods for students learning English for the first time in third grade to naturally acquire the language.”

BY PARK HYUNG-SOO, SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]