The New Year marks our (my wife and me) 10th anniversary of leaving South Korea, where we both taught English at Sookmyung Women's University. I taught in the TESOL certification program for in-service and pre-service English language teachers and she taught in the General English Program for undergraduate students. Except for my summer job in 2011, we haven't been taught English in East Asia since December 2005.
What has changed in the last 10 years?Although I haven't taught English in Japan and South Korea for 10 years, which is double the amount of years I taught in those countries, I have been keeping up to date through research and social media. The research has helped me better understand the English language policies of both countries, but social media has been more informative regarding the cultural and professional experiences of English language teachers.
Social MediaBy the start of 2006, most social media platforms did not exist or were in their infancy.
In the absence of these sites, blogging was a more popular form of sharing experiences. I discovered blogs in 2004, but I didn't get around to blogging until 2006, when this blog began as one of several blogs for professional purposes.
In 2010, when I chose my research topic for my PhD dissertation, I started looking at blogs written by other English language teachers, primarily in Japan and South Korea, and discovered that these two countries were coincidentally the two blogging hotspots for English language teachers. I've been doing my best to keep track of these blogs here.
Now with Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and many more social media outlets, English language teachers have many ways to share their experiences. Some teachers have expanded beyond simple blogging and microblogging, spending a lot of time and effort to create podcasts and YouTube channels about themselves, their profession, and/or the host cultures. I will be sharing my list of these podcasts and YouTube channels later. My point is that most of these did not exist 10 years ago.
English Language Policies of Japan and South KoreaBoth countries spend a lot of money on employing English language teaching assistants in their government programs, JET (Japan) and EPIK (Korea). Over the past ten years, many current and former teachers in these programs were fearing the closure of these programs, which has not happened.
What is happening is that demand and salaries for English language teachers have not really increased as explained in Waegukin's blog concerning the Korean context. BusanKevin also shares a similar perspective on this stagnation in Japan in his podcast episode about teaching adults in Japan. However, teaching adults in Japan is affected less by the English language policies and more by the private sector.
The apparent golden era of teaching English in those countries seem to have passed, at least for those starting a career in English language teaching. I haven't heard so much about teaching in Japanese and Korean higher education programs.