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Illegal English Teachers Thriving

Posted March. 21, 2006 03:12,   


When Seoul Immigration officials visited an English TOEFL language school in Seoul on March 13, one of the school’s foreign instructors sneaked away.

The instructor, who entered Korea from Canada in 2000, had been stripped of his visa on charges of sexually harassing a female student while working at two universities in Seoul in November 2005.

A Seoul Immigration official said, “In January alone, 11 illegal foreign instructors were caught at an English camp for students. It turned out that they worked at two or three institutions and earned a lot of money.”

Many English institutions have sprung up around schools in major cities, which have attracted many underqualified English instructors. The TOEIC and TOEFL test changes that will evaluate speaking ability beginning in May have increased the demand for foreign English instructors as well.

Seoul Immigration estimates the number of illegal foreign instructors all over the country at 30,000. According to Seoul Immigration, the number of illegal foreign instructors caught amounted to 156 in Seoul in the second half of last year, which is double the number of the first half of last year.

There were many cases in which illegal foreign instructors who are not college graduates make much more money than Korean foreign language instructors. There are only a very few who majored in English related subjects.

The Seoul immigration caught a Canadian “M” (26) who entered Korea with a tourist visa in 2002 and earned about 150 million won by illegal tutoring in Bucheon-city, Gyeonggi for three and a half years, and deported him on March 8.

It turned out that “M”, just a high school graduate, pretended that he graduated from a prestigious university in Canada and made money more than 10 million won a month at max by teaching children of an lawyer, a doctor, an Oriental doctor and so forth.

The Justice department and the police have started to crack down on those illegal foreign instructors, but it is not easy to disclose them. That is because recently, brokers who specialize in fabricating foreign university degrees are booming and institutions and schools who hire them are not paying due attention to checking their qualification.

A famous language institute explained that they entrust an agency which introduces foreign instructors to them with the task of checking foreign instructors’ qualification. However, the agency confessed that they don’t take responsibility for the fabrication of identity and degrees and the quality of instructors.

The severity of punishment inflicted on illegal instructors caught is very light. The amount of fine imposed on employers and agencies is four million won and five million won, respectively. Exposed foreign instructors are either fined two million won or deported. Even though, the amount of fine imposed on foreign instructors who worked for more than a year in Korea was raised to 20 million won early last year, the government fears the diplomatic conflict and accordingly, they are just deporting them.