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Getting Started on an English Teaching Job in South Korea

Admin - Feb 10 2016

South Korea is a promising career destination for ESL, TESOL and TEFL professionals. Both the private and the public school system in the country currently harbor a huge demand for English language teachers, with the former offering great opportunities for foreign English teachers to learn about the country’s socio-cultural backside while the latter providing some of the most rewarding career packages around the Asia-Pacific region.

Teachers employed in South Korea’s public schools are directly hired by the Ministry of Education and serve primarily as support for local teachers. The system’s very structured learning schedule makes it possible for teachers to have weekends and evenings off, allowing for some exciting explorations of the country’s interesting locations. According to the Teachaway.com website, major public school hiring for teachers occurs twice a year during the February to March and the August to September period.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s private education system allows for flexible hours, offers very attractive salaries and provides additional benefits such as free air fares and accommodations. However, private schools generally require more work hours compared to institutions under the public school system, leaving foreign teachers with generally shorter periods for leisure, entertainment, or personal travel. However, the scheme does allow for significant amount of overtime pay, allowing for ESL and TEFL practitioners to fatten their wallets and bank accounts. South Korea’s private schools are best for English language teachers aiming to build up their finances within a highly structured environment.

One of the programs focusing on the public education sector is the English Program in Korea, or EPIK. EPIK provides English language educators a good opportunity to work with the Ministry of Education and enjoy lucrative wages. The program also offers teachers a unique experience by getting them to share their culture and skills with South Korean students across the country. EPIK has an ongoing partnership with Canada’s University of Toronto wherein individuals seeking to work with South Korea’s public schools can obtain their TEFL certification through the university’s online portal. The EPIK program places more than 1,000 teachers in English language teaching jobs every year. To be eligible for the EPIK program, job applicants must have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent from an accredited institution and a citizen of a country where English is the primary language. These are on top of the requirements for an E-2 or an F-4 visa.

On the other hand, there are quite a number of private institutions in the country that hires ESL or TEFL practitioners. In addition to the relevant travel documentation and teaching certifications, job seekers in this market need to know the teaching philosophy the private institution they want to serve in. For example, some international schools adhere to the learning ideal that drives students to become self-sufficient learners and gives relatively less premium on grades while some private schools establish extremely competitive academic environments where students are being groomed to surpass expectations.

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