Teaching English in Korea and How in 2021 [Updated] TEFL

8 Types of Teaching English in Korea Jobs & How to Get Them

English is the global connecting language bringing together people from various countries and regions, speaking different languages. It is the most common language of intercultural communication and business in today’s time. Thus, it won’t be wrong to say that it is one of the most popular languages across the globe. Popularity makes it important to realize the importance of teaching English in Korea

This leads to the desire and need for learning the language amongst people coming from countries that speak a first language other than English. This desire is driven by the need to open up one’s horizons, compete at a global level, and be at par with the global developments. This trend of teaching English is extremely prevalent in oriental countries like Japan, China, and Korea. 

Teaching English in Korea can be a wonderful experience. Let’s know Why!

Reason #1:

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Korea, also known as the ‘land of the morning calm’, is a beautiful country where nature, tradition, and modernization co-exist beautifully at very close quarters. Be it the traditional palaces, the monasteries hidden away among the mountains, the enchanting natural beauty, the ultra-modern cities, and their nightlife, the technological advancements, or the delectable cuisine.

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Reason # 2:

It is a beautiful country to see around and explore in one’s spare time and it is also supposedly a paradise for food lovers. Kimchi, Korean barbeque, and bibimbap are a must-try! Thus, an opportunity to live and teach English in Korea can be a memorable experience in many ways. 

Reason # 3:

In addition to this, the way teachers are respected and revered in Korea is another heartening aspect to consider teaching in Korea.

There is a great demand for people who teach English in Korea, offering great pay with lots of benefits and perks, like free or subsidized housing, and rational visa requirements. The question now arises is what does teaching English in Korea entail?

Let us first look at the various types of assignments or jobs one can get to teach English in Korea.

What Types of Jobs Can One Get to Teach English in Korea?

The type of jobs one can get to teach English in Korea are broadly categorized into government and private assignments.

There can be openings to teach in Korea in public or private schools, international schools, universities and one can also teach English in Korea to business professionals. 

Some of the popular programs or options under which one can get a job for teaching English in Korea are as follows: 

8 Types of Jobs to Teach English in Korea:

Type #1:

EPIK – EPIK or the English Program in Korea is government-sponsored. Through this program, one can teach English in Korea in public schools all over the country.

Type #2:

GEPIK – GEPIK or the Gyeonggi-do English Program in Korea is also government-sponsored. Through this program, one can teach English in Korea in Seoul’s satellite cities, mainly the Gyeonggi-do province.

Type #3:

TaLK – TaLK or the Teach and Learn in Korea program allows undergraduates to teach English in Korea. They can teach elementary-age kids in rural areas in the after-school classes.

Type #4:

SMOE – SMOE or Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education program is also a government program to teach English in Korea. Founded in 2005, this is a very popular program as jobs are based in the capital city Seoul.

Type #5:

Hagwons – Hagwons are private language schools. There are scores of hagwons in Korea ranging from small ones to big chains being run across cities offering several opportunities to teach English in Korea.

Type #6:

International School – Teaching English in Korea can also be a very promising opportunity at international schools there.

Type #7:

University Jobs – Another option to teach in Korea as an English teacher is at the universities. This could be either at the university’s conversation class or the university’s language institute.

Type #8:

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Business People – One can also teach English in Korea to the business people and adults. Corporate houses have in-house intensive residential programs for a duration of 3 to 6 months.

Koreans revere their teachers a lot and every year on May 15th they shower their teachers with love and respect in the form of red carnations and other lavish gifts being given by both current and former students to their favorite teacher. So, be assured you are going to love teaching in Korea in more ways than you can imagine. 

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Teachers’ Day In South Korea

Now that we know about the type of jobs that one can find to teach English in Korea, let us now look at the qualifications one needs for teaching in Korea.

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Requirements to Teach in Korea

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Requirement #1:

The primary requirement for teaching English in Korea is that one is a native speaker of English. It means that one is a native of countries like the US, Canada, the U.K., Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Most schools require that one comes from one of these countries, though some schools are flexible.

Requirement #2:

Further, one needs a bachelor’s degree or at least an associate degree in any discipline to teach English in Korea. An exception is the TaLK program wherein a final year student can teach in Korea. These are elementary level after-school classes in rural areas. In addition to a bachelor’s degree, a TEFL certification course is recommended for teaching English in Korea.

Now one may wonder what a TEFL certification course is.

In simple words, it stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. It is a certification that trains and allows one to teach English to non-native speakers. It is typically required to teach English in non-native English speaking countries as it helps ensure that the person being hired is qualified, knowledgeable, and is the right candidate for the job. 

An important point to note here is that one should have at least 100 plus hours of TEFL experience as anything lesser is not considered credible to teach English in Korea.

Requirement #3:

Another crucial requirement to teach in Korea is the knowledge of Korean, at least basic Korean. This is crucial because the students don’t speak much English and this could pose a big challenge to one especially initially. As the students learn to speak English gradually, one’s hardship will be reduced significantly. Moreover, it will help interact with local colleagues at school and also help one make their way around the country daily.

Some other requirements to teach English in Korea include an E-2 category visa, a clean criminal background check, and a health check. A full-time teacher is usually expected to teach around 20 – 30 hours a week plus the prep time for classes. Classes usually happen in the mornings and evenings so afternoons are often free.

This further takes us to the question about the type of salary and perks one can get when teaching English in Korea.

Salaries for Teaching English in Korea

Salaries for teaching English in Korea are dependent upon the educational qualification, TEFL qualification, and teaching experience of the candidate. A bachelor’s degree holder on average can make between $1800 – $2500 per month. Taxation is at 5% and one can save up to $1600 per month. Moreover, most places offer subsidized or free accommodation. 

Teaching English in Korea also entitles one to a 10 – 20 days paid vacation per year along with an annual bonus of 1 month, around $2000 per year. There are also 15 – 18 national holidays in addition to the paid vacation. 

Furthermore, travel to and from one’s home country is also paid for. The Korean law also statutes the provision of health insurance during employment and payment of severance pay upon completion of an annual contract.

City or Rural Area – Where Should One Teach English in Korea?

Whether one should teach in a city or a rural area is another important point of consideration when teaching English in Korea.

Living in a city has its ups and downs. For example, one will be more well-connected with other parts of the country and internationally, be able to have a happening metropolis lifestyle like when living in Seoul, etc. 

However, there also comes the downside of a higher cost of living, crowded places, pollution and, smaller cramped apartments.

On the contrary, living in a rural area will be cheaper while offering a greater connection with the locals. This would offer a wonderful opportunity to experience the Korean culture at close quarters and also improve your Korean. 

Moreover, one would get to be in the lap of nature and enjoy the peace of the serene surroundings.

What’s the Difference between Teaching English in Korea at EPIK Versus Hagwons?

  1. If you are looking to teach in Korea in schools, you will come across two broad options public schools or private ones. Public schools are a part of the various government-run teaching English in Korea programs. One such program is EPIK – English Program in Korea.  The private schools are called ‘Hagwons’

  2. There isn’t much difference between the two. The salaries and teaching hours are similar. Though EPIK classes are run during school hours and classes at hagwons are mostly conducted during the morning and/or evening. The perks offered at both places are also similar.

  3. However, getting a job at a hagwon is much easier than getting an EPIK job. This is so because EPIK is a government program with a specific number of vacancies, while there are plenty of hagwons all across Korea.

  4. So, considering teaching in Korea at a hagwon is a great option even if it is one’s first time teaching in Korea. Also, hagwons hire throughout the year while EPIK only hires twice in a year ¬– February and August.

  5. Additionally, hagwon jobs are mostly in bigger cities whereas EPIK jobs can even be in smaller cities or rural areas. One can choose which hagwon to apply to but in the case of EPIK jobs, one doesn’t have a choice.

  6. So, one may have to be prepared for that when applying for teaching in Korea opportunity under the EPIK program. The requirements to apply for a job at hagwons may differ from hagwon to hagwon and this may be a point to consider too when choosing whether to apply for a teach English in Korea job at hagwons versus EPIK. 

So, to sum it all up teaching English in Korea is a once in a lifetime opportunity that one should strive for. The country has a lot to offer in terms of its culture, people, lifestyle, food, etc. The pay and benefits of teaching English in Korea are noteworthy and the work is highly satisfying.

Then, why not think of teaching English in Korea?

So, what are you waiting for?

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Namita is an alumna of Sheffield Hallam University, the U.K. She’s a content writer and a learning and development professional. In her corporate career, she has worked for brands like IBM, Barclays, and Capita Customer Management, before becoming an independent consultant . She mainly writes digital marketing content and has primarily written for native English speaking international clients. On the learning and development front, she’s a consultant & project manager at Growthsqapes – a learning and development consulting firm. She’s passionate about both her fortes and juggles them efficiently.

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