South Korea is one of the South Asian countries that has drastically developed itself in various domains. The technological growth in South Korea is worth hyping. Besides, the South Korean government is quite serious about education where teaching jobs are in abundance. On that note, South Korea is having lots of ex-pats, and therefore, the practice of the English language is quite smooth over there.
Teaching English in South Korea is having an excellent job market where both native and non-native English speakers are recruited to teach English in schools in South Korea. So if you want to teach English in Seoul, South Korea, or in any other parts of South Korea, you must have an internationally accredited TEFL course. Teaching jobs in Korea are quite fascinating as the pay scale is nice and the cost of living is not as high as in the Middle-eastern or European countries.
So, what degree do you need to teach English in Korea?
Most schools in South Korea require English teachers to have a Bachelor’s degree along with a TEFL certification course. Having a prior teaching experience will favour English teachers in Korea. However, there are plenty of teaching jobs in South Korea where ESL teachers are hired who might not have any teaching experience.
If you’re wondering how to become an English teacher in Korea you must enquire about many other facts as well. For example, you must be aware of the schools in Korea, their decorum, teaching pattern, number of students, working hours, and salary package. South Korea, the land of morning calm, is also famous for its private schools known as Hagwons. The culture in Hagwons is somewhat different than public schools which we shall discuss further.
Learn how Hagwons hire English teachers:
Seoul and Busan are the two most popular South Korean cities where you can enjoy the cacophony of city life and teach in reputed schools. If you adore a peaceful and quiet ambiance, Gyeongju is the one for you. It is a small city that is rich in cultural history and famous for its big lotus ponds.
Types of teaching jobs in South Korea:
The Government-sponsored programs: Generally, the job security is quite awesome but the salary package is not extremely lucrative. Having a TEFL certificate will make your application stronger. The public schools will allow you to get blended with the Korean Culture and they hire English teachers 5-6 months before their season begins.
There are 4 Government-sponsored programs that English teachers can opt for in South Korea. SMOE, GEPIK, EPIK, and TaLK are the major programs where the number of students and their age group varies a lot. Usually, the recruitment process begins in March and continues till September.
SMOK: (SMOE or SMOK?)
This program is located in Seoul and hiring begins in February end and continues till late August. TEFL certified English teachers are hired before arriving while the working durations are generally 40hours a week.
It is located in Gyeonggi Province—the area surrounding Seoul. Teachers are recruited during February and late August. Working durations are 40 hours week. Salary depends upon the standard of the qualification.
It covers all the regions and it believes in a first come first serve policy. The hiring session begins at end of February and then again at end of March. Teachers are required to work 40 hours every week.
Candidates must be a currently enrolled university or college students and are required to teach for a minimum of 6 months (can extend to a full year). English teachers have to teach English to elementary-aged children during after-school classes (15 hr/week). The hiring session starts in September for fall or March for spring
Private schools in South Korea: Teaching English in private schools in South Korea is in the most demand as the salary package is quite lucrative and the working hours are lesser than in public schools. Also known as Hagwons, these private schools have pre-prepared lesson plans. This system sometimes makes teachers feel that their creativity is curbed.
Teaching in Hagwons is ideal for teachers who are late risers as the schools begin after 1 pm or in the afternoon. The hiring season for private schools continues throughout the whole year and generally, English teachers have to work 35 hours a week. The salary package is within the range of 2000USD- 2200USD and it depends upon the standard of qualification of English teachers.
Universities: Most people begin teaching at universities in South Korea once they've already gained experience in teaching in schools in South Korea for at least a year. Building a good network is important in getting opportunities to teach in South Korean universities. However, having a master’s degree is mandatory to qualify for teaching at the university level. Working hours are extremely low and the salary package is 2,050-3,100 USD per month.
The recruiters from universities in South Korea will not be providing any accommodation to English teachers. Therefore, people who are traveling from other countries need to find an apartment, and the security deposit is like 5000 USD which will be returned to the tenant after the contract with the owner ends.
Private tuition: An English teacher having an E-2 visa is not eligible to provide a private lesson to any South Korean students. That is totally against the law. Colleagues can ask to do so. To be honest, that is not too risky but then again you should be aware of who to trust and precautions should be taken at any cost.
Working visa in South Korea:
Teachers who are traveling from other nations to teach in South Korean schools must have an E-2 visa. It will give you a permit to work there for 1 year. For a fee, you can get your single entry status changed to multiple entries, allowing you the option to travel in and out of the country.
The first step towards availing of this visa is to have a documented and legal contract from your employer. As soon as the process begins, you will need to send your apostilled documents to the Korean consulate. The South Korean government needs a clean background check done by the FBI. So if you want to get the visa faster, you must have your background check done by the FBI beforehand.
An apostille, a government seal used for authenticating overseas documents, is needed and for that, you will need to take a copy of your diploma to the notary public found at your local bank. You must produce the original document to have those copies stamped. Once notarized, you can send the copy to be apostilled by the Secretary of State.
Cost of living in South Korea:
Salaries in South Korean institutions depend upon the schools and obviously, on the qualification of teachers. Hagwons offer the most money for English teachers who are not having prior teaching experience at about 2,000 USD. But public schools offer a lower starting salary at about 1,350 - 2,000 USD.
Generally, both public and private schools provide accommodations to English teachers who are traveling from other countries. Typically it’s a self-contained studio ranging from medium-sized to small and apartments in Seoul are generally small in size due to the huge strength of the population.
Hagwons used to always re-pay you for your flight by either giving you a stipend or converting the actual ticket cost but the job market is getting highly competitive they provide this service less and less. Public schools will always re-pay your airfare with a stipend of about 1,000 USD, which will usually be stated in your contract. Most will provide a 250 USD settling allowance that is usually deposited into your account before your first paycheck. Before you leave, they will deposit another 1,000 USD into your account for your outbound plane ticket, irrespective of the destination.
Overall, the cost of living in South Korea is affordable but in metropolitan cities, the living cost is higher. Teachers can spend most of their salary on travelling and food. The last time you get paid, you get paid twice. Depending on where you’re working in South Korea and how frugal you are with your money, you can travel and save during your time in South Korea.
To end with:
Teaching English in South Korean schools is a prestigious job where teachers have to deal with students belonging from different backgrounds as South Korea is full of ex-pats. A TEFL course is mandatory for teaching English in schools in South Korea. The experience is excellent and having some years of experience in teaching in South Korean schools can let teachers work further in universities in South Korea.
To know about TEFL programs, call the toll-free number: 1800-212-6400