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Feb 24, 2009

Video Conference English classes making the difference in Gangwha Schools

Yonhapnews, Incheon, South Korea, Kim Chang Seon - Reporting

Beginning in the new semester this March, Incheon Gangwha-do Duk Shin High School students will be taking 1:1 interactive video English classes with American teachers.

On February 4th, the Incheon Office of Education revealed that approximately 190 first and second year students of Duk Shin High School were going to have video conference English classes with teachers in Wyoming and Utah twice a week starting this March.

In these classes, American teachers teach from English textbooks and converse with the students both questioning and answering in real-time, while a Korean teacher is there to facilitate conversation and moderate the class. The communication is made over the internet using equipment the school already has setup, such as web camera, high-performance microphone and headphones that are a part of the existing computer room.

The office secured the group of qualified teachers in America through ‘Eleutian Korea’ which is a local venture of ‘Eleutian Technology’, an e-learning company that employs American teachers.

Six high schools in Gangwha Island including Gangwha Girls’ High School, Kyo Dong High School, Yeon Pyeong High School, Baek Ryong High School, Dae Chung High School, Deok Jeok High School are going to have ‘one American teacher per class’ video English classes also beginning in March.

Since last November, 27 schools on this island including 19 elementary schools, 7 middle schools and Incheon International High School have taken these ‘1:1’ video classes. This is being increased with additional Elementary school students in 5th to 6th grade and high school students in their 1st and 2nd year.

For the upcoming semester, since Duskin High School has completed preparations for the individual ‘1:1’ video courses, they will be the only one of the additional school to implement the program for the next semester.

The Office of Education has introduced this program to strengthen English education across this province where it is difficult to attract native teachers, and a solution like this is necessary to meet the shortage of qualified English teachers. 

To make this possible, the Office of Education has allocated a budget of 0.56 billion won through the second half of this year. This includes the cost for each school’s beam projection, digital TV, high-performance microphones, web microphones, textbooks, American teachers and additional training for Korean teachers.

Jeong Jeong Ho, the School Inspector for the Office of Education said, “This project is designed to offer opportunities for students in this province to learn ‘Live and vivid English’. I expect the students will have more confidence in English and will lessen the educational gap.”