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At the start of this semester I transferred from a high school to an elementary school and have become very curious about how common it is for the NSET to have a minimal or ,"human tape recorder," type role in the classroom. I should first point out that I am quite happy at my new school and this post is not intended to start a big rant about under utilised NSET's.

When I worked at a high school my 18 classes a week were 100% my responsibility, from planning to delivery. In fact, most of the time there wouldn't be a Korean Co-teacher in the room. Similarly, during my first year in Korea at a hagwon I did everything alone. At this school however, the students do not have separate native teacher and Korean teacher classes just English class. I think this can be a very effective set up and is with one of the co-teachers I work with as our roles are clearly defined. I am very much the supporting ,"assistant," teacher but still feel my presence in the classroom is valid. With the other co-teacher though, it doesn't go as smoothly. The class is conducted almost entirely in Korean and sometimes I will have done little more than control the textbook CD-Rom by the end of the class.

I have a good relationship with this co-teacher outside of the classroom and to be perfectly honest don't really mind continuing on this path it if it how she wants to do things. I have tried a few times to politely suggest giving me a more active role in the classroom which have been met with responses of ," Oh yeah sure," but then when it comes down to it very little changes. I have also tried to be pro active and jump in during parts of the class where I feel I could be useful but am often either interrupted or get no response from most of the students. It has got to a point where most of them will now switch off when I start speaking English because they know a whole bunch of Korean is right around the corner.

My concern is that perhaps there is a small chance that she does in fact want more from me in the classroom but is unsure of how to achieve this. At this stage it seems unlikely but I thought I would post to find out how many NSET's are in similar situations. If there are many then perhaps it is just a preferred teaching style of many Korean teachers here.


  • nickster13
  • Veteran

    • 118

    • August 30, 2011, 01:54:12 pm
    • Seoul, Korea
Re: How minimal is the role of NSET's in public elementary schools?
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2012, 01:28:34 pm »
Same boat bro. Last year when i first arrived, i had coteachers who wanted me to do everything, and frankly i had just arrived so it was rough since i didnt know how everything worked yet.
But this year its exactly as you said. My coteachers love taking control of everything, as their job is english teacher, in fact I wonder why they even pay me to go to class with them, as I do very little beyond a few repeat drills. And we have a really good relationship, but this is my role, and i do it without complaint. So yes it is totally normal to have coteachers like this.


  • Grimne_Lothos
  • Expert Waygook

    • 846

    • December 28, 2011, 12:56:27 pm
    • Buyeo, south korea
Re: How minimal is the role of NSET's in public elementary schools?
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2012, 01:37:55 pm »
when i first started they gave me a bunch of videos to watch of sample classes and in all of them the Net was a human tape recorder.  I am under the impression that this is what they are taught as their goal .  Some teachers with lower english skills  give the NET a larger role and some NETS are still teaching with homeroom teachers and their homeroom teachers don't take part at all.


Re: How minimal is the role of NSET's in public elementary schools?
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2012, 02:04:52 pm »
How minimal (or otherwise) the NSET's role is really varies from one school to another, and even, as appears to be true in the OP's case, from one Korean co-t to another within the very same school.

In fact, I'd say it's even possible to have a situation not too dissimilar to what the OP had experienced previously in high school, where an elementary NSET plans everything and does everything. That's pretty much what happened with me, the first time I worked in an elementary school. It was a smallish school and they had no Korean English teacher. I was supposed to co-teach with each of the home room teachers. Most of them had minimal English and as I was a fairly experienced teacher, they were happy for me to just plan and teach everything. That was also my preferred way of doing things. Generally they would stay in the classroom, but not always, and it tended not to be a major problem if they didn't.

In another elementary school I worked in, I was in the tape recorder role for regular classes, but my after school classes were all down to me, both planning and teaching with only me in the classroom.

I've heard of other different arrangements too, so it really does vary as far as I can see.


  • fishead
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1138

    • April 23, 2010, 07:58:05 am
    • Yangju Korea
Re: How minimal is the role of NSET's in public elementary schools?
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2012, 07:29:32 am »
 Show your co-teachers the games on this site particularly the ones by Sprite and Dejeon. Show them how the games can be modified to teach the language in the textbook with photo's that you can copy and paste.
The Mario adventure with score or the Pokeman should work well with Elementary students


  • jurassic82
  • Veteran

    • 242

    • August 31, 2010, 12:30:51 pm
    • South Korea
Re: How minimal is the role of NSET's in public elementary schools?
« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2012, 03:36:14 pm »
It was already mentioned before but I think it depends on the school you are at, the coteachers that you have and the willingness you have to do more. For my current situation I have had a lot of input in the lessons that I teach and I would say the 40 minutes of every class are divided up equally between my coteacher and I. I do an after school program as well and that is all up to me and I am on my own. For many of the other NETs I know in Seoul and Gyeonngi they do a lot of the work themselves and are seldom a human tape recorder. When I hear teachers talking about that kind of arrangment I am curious if they kind of prefer it that way and don't really try and speak up to change the situation as it is pretty easy to just sit there and act like a robot in order to collect a paycheck. I am not suggesting that is what the OP does but I think many others out there do that. Anyways, that is just my experience from the last four years at my Public School.  :o


Re: How minimal is the role of NSET's in public elementary schools?
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2012, 12:55:59 am »
  You are a tape recorder. Next...