SEOUL, April 4 (Korea Bizwire) — Over the next five years, Seoul’s Office of Education will spend approximately 145 billion won to boost English instruction at city-funded public schools, a spokesperson announced yesterday.
In a country that prizes education, the demand for learning English is strong, evidenced by the 5.4 trillion won spent on private English tutoring, lessons, academies, and so on last year by K-12 students and their families, according to research done by the Ministry of Education and Statistics Korea.
Despite more money being spent learning English than any other subject, opportunities to learn English at school have been scaled back in recent years.
Among elementary schools in Seoul, the percentage that offered after school English programs dropped from 81.8 percent in 2015 to 59.2 percent two years later. Over the same time frame, middle schools and high schools that did likewise went from 85.9 percent to 73.9 percent and 62.3 percent to 48.4 percent, respectively.
In addition, the number of native English speaker assistant teachers also declined, from 592 to 337.
With a ban on elementary school-sponsored after school English studies for first and second graders having gone into effect early this year, there have been worries that parents will rely even more heavily on private English education methods. This would widen the gap in educational achievement between the children who can afford pricey lessons and those who cannot, angry parents have argued.
As a step towards providing a remedy, Seoul’s educational authority will recruit 100 more native English speaking teachers and assign them to elementary schools that request more English teaching staff starting next year.
A dedicated English class for students who lack the basics of the language, and a program that consists of a foreign English teacher and a university student visiting different schools and holding English learning activities will be expanded.
English learning content created by EBS (Educational Broadcasting System) will be made available free of charge to all students via a newly created online platform.
Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)