The Ministry of Education will bring in native English-speaking teachers to work with teachers in English language classes across Turkey starting from the next academic year as part of a project aiming to improve the education of foreign languages in the country.

As part of the project, launched due to the criticism that foreign languages are not taught well in the country, “English cafés” will be opened, popular cartoons and children's shows will be aired in English with Turkish subtitles and foreign language education sets will be distributed to students. The project will run for five years at an estimated cost of TL 1.5 billion. The project aims to be the foundation of the nation's foreign language teaching policy.

With the project, a total of 40,000 English teachers will arrive in Turkey over the next four years and activities will be held during weekends and the summer vacation with the participation of Turkish teachers of English and native English-speaking teachers.

In English classes, native English-speaking teachers will accompany Turkish teachers and take part in extracurricular activities. The native teachers will also hold speaking classes for both the students and the Turkish teachers of English.

Speaking with the Anatolia news agency, Education Minister Nimet Çubukçu said Turkish students cannot speak English properly despite their foreign language classes, a reality that has led the ministry to initiate this project. She said the native English-speaking teachers will be of great help for students to practice English.

Addressing recent speculation that these teachers will replace Turkish teachers of English, Çubukçu said the project does not prevent Turkish teachers from being appointed as teachers, but it has been prepared to teach and help learn English better.

The head of the ministry’s projects department, Ünal Akyüz, said they have looked into similar programs in South Korea and Japan. He said 70 percent of local teachers and students are happy with the project in South Korea. While noting that English language teaching in Turkey is generally based on teaching English grammar, Akyüz said: “The new system focuses on speaking. We aim to show that English language education is not limited to teaching grammar, but that speaking and writing are important as well.”

The guest teachers will sign a one-year contract, and if the schools and teachers are happy working together, the contracts can be extended. “We will establish criteria prospective teachers will need to meet. We will look into their teaching experience and criminal records,” Akyüz said. The project will start in big cities first and later spread to other parts of the country. Agencies that will coordinate the employment of the guest teachers will be determined through a tender.

“We will only decide on a standard salary. It may change from province to province. The accommodation of the teachers will be provided by the agencies,” Akyüz explained, noting that the guest teachers are paid $1,500-2,000 per month in Japan and South Korea. He added that a similar system is already in place in several private schools throughout Turkey.

The materials to be used in English language classes will also comply with international standards and modern English education sets will be purchased to be used in Turkish schools, Akyüz stated. The project will pave the way for the teaching of English to start from pre-school.

The ministry is also preparing multimedia centers in schools to pave the way for distance English learning. Akyüz said 1,000 English teachers will be hired from the US for distance learning in the first phase of the project.

Source: Today Zaman

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