To begin this story, I will have to take you way back to the idyllic and overly idealistic glory days of English education in Korea, way back to 2006. At the time, I was employed by an elementary school in Seongbuk-gu, up in northern Seoul. My my views on life in Korea at the time were just as hopeful and full of optimism as the day-dreaming policy makers at the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (SMOE) and the policy makers in national government, that naïvely believed young and inexperienced native English speakers were the answer to Korea’s inability to master the English language. For the policy makers and the wide-eyed foreign teachers, fresh out of college and fresh off the boat, the program was seen as a sure-fire solution to Korea’s English woes and bound for nothing but success. Despite the overwhelming wave of optimism from government towards native speaking English teachers (NSETs) in public schools around this time, the truth of the matter was, all parties involved had an appalling lack of understanding and direction on the jobs that they were doing and the work that was expected of them.
Yes it was my second year in Korea and I was still full of youth and enthusiasm for the job I was doing, even if it was all bullshit. I was an English teacher, one of several hundred employed in Seoul, caught up in the mass public school hiring frenzy of the mid 2000s. My life at the time was comfortable and my job was easy. The school had set me up in a high-rise office-tel, which overlooked the Sungshin Women’s University area of the city. Looking out from my apartment at night, you could see all the neon madness that is Seoul. The apartment was small, but modern, clean and comfortable. It came equipped with all the necessities and conveniences of modern day Korean life, including incessant jack-hammering from dusk until dawn as a high-rise government office slowly rose to occupy the horizon before me.
Local and national education administrators were adamant that the ESL gravy train was eventually going to turn into a super-sonic gravy jet and blast off and take them along for the ride. Officials were so adamant about bringing NSETs into Korea, that several English villages were constructed with government money to teach Koreans English, in “theme-park” like settings. Local media did its part in selling the English villages to the public before they were proven to be effective, financially or academically. The truth about English villages only came to light years later, and it must of been a hard pill to swallow for administrators involved in making the decision to build them. English villages suffered from three main problems: they were found to be pretty much be ineffective at creating better English speakers, they come at a massive cost of billions of won in public money for the limited amount of progress they achieve, and Korean people generally don’t like or use them as much as officials had initially hoped and said they would. But in the heydays of English fever in the mid 2000s, the sky was the limit and anything was possible. After all, some of the old roosters in administration were turning a bit gray around the neck and they needed the promotions and recognition, a defining achievement if you will, that comes with a job well done after years of public service in government bureaucracy. - Read more @ asiapundits - http://www.asiapundits.com/regions/korea/fleeced-how-korean-public-schools-sold-out-to-private-education/