ABCs of Teaching English in South Korea

By Avery Souders

Education is a fundamental must in any country’s society. It teaches vital information that helps you to grow and develop, expanding your awareness and understanding of the world around you. A popular place for teaching has become eastern Asia such as countries as China, Japan and South Korea. In South Korea, there are many opportunities to teach English. One of the main requirements for teaching English is that you speak it. There is a lot of information on the Internet about teaching abroad, but here are some resources that will help give you a look into what goes into being an English teacher in South Korea.

How to Prepare…

Before you start packing for South Korea, a few things you should know to prepare for your travels starts off with having a valid passport. A new passport can cost about $120 USD,  but renewal is free. The next thing to note is the importance of having a visa or work permit. The work permit is usually valid for one year and takes about 2–4 weeks to process. There is a lot more information that you can look up online about what a visa is and what is needed to get one it can be as well as a work permit. 

One of the most important things to do before leaving your country is to make sure you have all of the required vaccinations that are needed. A helpful resource when needing to know what these vaccinations are can be found on the CDC website. Many of these vaccinations can be expensive, so be prepared to pay out of pocket.

The next thing that can be helpful to have a degree from any university it does not have to be an education degree. What's more is a teaching certificate can also increase your chances of being hired as an English teacher. It is highly recommended to take the TEFL, teaching English in a foreign language, in order to be certified as a teacher of a foreign language.

What to Know…

Surprisingly, it is okay to not have knowledge about the Korean language! So do not stress out if you think you need to be fluent in Korean to get a job in teaching. You can start picking up the basics to expand your Korean vocabulary with resources such as Talk To Me In Korean, Eggbun, and more!

One of the main programs for teaching English in Korea is called EPIK. This stands for the English Program in Korea, which is sponsored by the Korean government, and places teachers and cities and provinces all throughout the country. 

There are many websites that you can look at that will help you find a school to teach. Your placement and payment in South Korea depends upon your education background. For example, if you have no experience in teaching and have no degree from a university, that means will have the lowest payment amount, and you will have a harder time getting placed in a good school. If you have many years of experience in teaching English and have an English degree from a university then you will be paid a lot more and your choice in schools is greater. The demand for placement in cities like Seoul, Daegu, or Busan can be tough because everyone wants to go there. You may be asked by the online website helping you where you would like to teach, but you may not be placed there.

A nice thing from the schools where you teach are the benefits of having healthcare and housing. While things like this may sound a bit boring, they are super important to have. Moreover, teaching contracts usually last one year, so make the most of your time while there. The longer you work at the same school, the better the benefits!

Ups and Downs to Teaching…

Like anything, there are pros and cons to any situation like teaching. While it is great that you may be provided housing and healthcare, the amount you are paid varies and it can be only enough to survive on to the next paycheck. However, as long as you are financially responsible you can make good use of what you receive! Another issue that may arise while abroad is the need to renew your work visa. This can be more of a hassle rather than a serious problem but it can be frustrating to have to travel to the embassy.

For anyone travelling to a different country, the hardest part will always be the homesickness and culture shock. You may think this won’t happen to you, but usually within three months of living in another country, you begin to miss the little things about where you are from. In order to not miss home too much, make sure to have a few friends from your country, but also make many Korean friends so that they can help you adjust better. The more  you surround yourself with people who are from the same country as you, the harder it will be to integrate into Korean society.

Options for English Secondary Speakers…

If you are a non-native speaker, meaning English is your second language, then you will have more trouble finding opportunities in South Korea to teach; but never say never because if you are very fluent and have the ability to back up your credibility, then you will have just as good a chance as any American, Englishman, or Australian. It would be useful to check out vlogs or blogs online from other non-English speakers to get an idea of what to expect.

The English language plays an important role, connecting people through business and trade. Having teachers who truly care about teaching others their language in a way that is helpful in understanding as well as information provided in new interesting ways. 

Remember the best part of teaching is sharing your knowledge with others. The students you will work with will have so much fun learning this confusing language we call English all because you took the time and care to help make learning easier and fun.

Have you thought about teaching in South Korea or any other countries? Was this information helpful?

Written by Avery Souders

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