Monday, April 27, 2015

New Rules for EPIK

The Korean MOE has just announced new rules for EFL public school teachers

On paper, they seem to make sense. All teachers now require a TEFL certificate and can't smoke near students and coworkers (cause no male teachers smoke.........).

Personally I am not totally against this, except that a 100+ hour TEFL certificate ranges anywhere from a CELTA (see my last post) to a gap year course offered from Universities of dubious accreditation. However, working standards and pay have not risen accordingly. In what should be a surprise to no one, it seems like a knee jerk reaction by the MOE. 

I personally think it is just an excuse to lower the costs associated with EFL teachers. While I think Koreans have started to figure out that anyone who speaks English is not automatically qualification to teach it, they still want English in their school system. A few years ago, a degree in linguistics and a CELTA could get you a 2.4-2.7 million won salary. Now, as they are basic requirements, you will only earn 2.2-2.4 (at least at present, the new hiring season is a few months away and this didn't affect those who were just brought in). There is also little to no opportunities for professional development. As Korea gets more and more expensive, one wonders why someone with such qualifications would choose EPIK over a private educator or, you know, another country.

I also think that this is just enough to weed out the backpackers but not enough to get educators. I know many EPIK teachers are great, but how many of them call themselves educators (In the private sector I've worked with journalists, actors, writers and engineers..... apparently)? I mean that as an honest question, my non-scientific observations would suggest not many. I think the sports groups and theatre stuff in Korea is great, but it is your hobby, not "what you do" and if you are an actual teacher, you may find that environment very stifling professionally. Otherwise it will get people who want two years of experience before they move on. Not that that is a bad thing at all, but a few senior educators in place to help those people would be beneficial both to them and the students at the school. 

I mean, if you have an MA or a CELTA or a teachers license and you work at EPIK, you either really love your job, are looking for two years teaching experience that opens up so many doors or...... well what is wrong with you?

Anyway, if someone at EPIK offers you 2.2 and you have any of the above qualifications, you can do better both in terms of professional development and money. 

On a final note, I do wonder why the MOE doesn't work to develop the teachers it has. For example, if you do a CELTA, we will pay you 100,000 a month for 24 months until it is paid off. Get a better teacher, save the costs of flights etc, and if they cut early, no loss to you. I guess that involves real planning and leadership though. Better to jump from policy to policy every six months.

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