Teach English in Korea

Want to know more about teaching English in Korea?  Check out the resources below:

Click on the section you're interested in below, or simply scroll down to read them all.
Teachers to Gyeonggi-do at UW-Madison
What is GEPIK? What is EPIK?
Qualifications to teach English in Korea
Applying to teach English in Korea
Benefits of teaching English in Korea
Other bloggers teaching English in Korea
Teaching summer and winter English camps
What it's like to teach English in a Korean elementary school
Enjoying delicious Korean food

Teachers to Gyeonggi-do at UW-Madison

From 2013-2014 I taught English in a public elementary school in South Korea through the Teachers to Gyeonggi-do (TTG) program at UW-Madison (a part of GEPIK).

Unfortunately UW's TTG program has no current website.  All information was gathered via emails with Prof. Sandra Arfa (arfa@wisc.edu) and the program's graduate assistant Karen Best (karenb.fields@gmail.com).  If you're a UW senior or recent graduate interested in teaching English in Korea, send either of them an email and you'll get added to their Korea email list. That's how you'll receive application information, deadlines, and whatnot for the current year.

What is GEPIK? What is EPIK?

I mentioned above that UW-Madison's Teachers to Gyeonggi-do program is a part of GEPIK.  GEPIK stands for Gyeonggi English Program in Korea, which hires native English speakers as English teachers in public schools of the Gyeonggi province (around Seoul).  You can apply to teach English in Korea through GEPIK here.

For all other regions, you can apply to teach in Korea through EPIK: English Program in Korea.

Qualifications to teach English in Korea

  • Be a native English speaker from one of these countries: Australia (EPIK only), Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States or South Africa.
  • Hold a Bachelor's degree (any major) from an accredited university.
    • Note: If your major is not English/Linguistics nor Education (teaching certified), GEPIK requires that you complete a 100-hour TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certification.
  • Clear criminal record check.
Please take note of what's not listed above: You do not have to speak Korean in order to teach in Korea!

Applying to teach English in Korea

I applied directly through my university, but check out the EPIK and GEPIK sites above for application details.  You can apply to those programs directly, while many others apply through recruiters.  Here are two recruiting companies, for example:
  • Gone 2 Korea - While on a train to Busan in February, I met a Canadian recruiter working for Gone 2 Korea. I have not used their services so I can't vouch for anything, but he was pleasant train company—a good human being.
  • Teach Abroad through Reach to Teach - "Reach To Teach helps you find an ESL teaching job with a reputable school that meets our standards for high quality English teacher positions in destinations all over the world."
For a fall start date, EPIK applications are accepted beginning in February.  I applied for my program in March and came to Korea on August 29, so that gives you a rough idea of the application timeline.

Benefits of teaching English in Korea

The biggest appeal for me was being able to pay back student loans and save money while being exposed to an Eastern culture. I have also taught English before (in Spain) and rather enjoy the teaching profession, so getting more teaching experience was also key for me. There are numerous other non-monetary benefits of teaching in Korea, but I'm going to focus on the money in this section. This is what my contract includes:
  • 300,000 KRW settling allowance
  • 1,500,000 KRW reimbursement for airfare (both when you arrive and again when you leave at the end of your contract period)
  • A furnished apartment, paid for by the school all year long
  • Monthly salary starting at 2,000,000 KRW (can be higher depending on experience/major)
  • 20 paid vacation days to be used while school/class is not in session (i.e. during winter, spring, or summer break)
When you complete your contract, you receive severance pay (one month's salary) and the money that's been put in Korea's pension plan all year—a nice chunk of change! If you stay additional years, the pay gets bumped up, as well as vacation days and other perks.  

Other bloggers teaching English in Korea

The blog posts linked to below are excellent resources for anyone looking to teach English in Korea. I only have experience teaching in a public school, but there are also hagwons (private academies) and private schools to work in. These folks have done a great job covering all of the FAQs about teaching English in Korea:

The Ultimate Guide to Teaching English in South Korea by Drew Binsky

Teaching summer and winter English camps in Korea

In the GEPIK program at least, each native English teacher is responsible for planning and teaching a 2-week English camp during both summer and winter vacations.

This was a huge undertaking for me, starting completely from scratch, so I've shared what my elementary English camps ended up looking like here:

Winter English camp:

It's a Small World - Week 1

It's a Small World - Week 2

Summer English camp:

A Royal Mystery - Week 1 (aka Castle Camp)

A Royal Mystery - Week 2 (aka Detective Camp)

I've also made both of these camps available for purchase here, at an absolute steal. Each camp has all the files you'll need—PowerPoint presentations, complete daily lesson plans, worksheets, PDFs, etc.—saving you from full weeks (or in my case, months) of lesson planning!

What it's like to teach English in a Korean public elementary school

School updates: November - Pepero Day, open class, planning for winter camps, and more!

Korean school lunches - I photographed my school lunches for a week; they are so incredibly delicious.

The unpredictability of daycare classes

GEPIK Workshop, Korean Education, and Change via Abby @ Bodging for Apples - Great post to learn about the Korean education system and GEPIK's vision for change.

A week in the life of an English teacher in Korea
For a week in March of 2014, five other UW-Madison graduates participated in the Badger Blogging Blitz, writing every day about the day's happenings and answering two daily questions about teaching/living in Korea.

It's really interesting how different some of our experiences are based on schools/co-teachers, yet that there are still so many overarching similarities. Find out what an average day is like by reading the week's posts below.

Badger Blogging Blitz 2014: Day 1 // Day 2 // Day 3 // Day 4 // Day 5 // Days 6 & 7

Enjoying delicious Korean food

One of my favorite parts about teaching English in Korea was the amazing food. Since most menus are all in Korean with no pictures, I highly recommend you learn some basic Korean and a bit about the food (and restaurant etiquette) before arriving. This way, you'll be able to comfortably order and enjoy this delicious cuisine.

So to help others do this, I've made "The Beginner's Guide to Korean Food and Restaurants," which is exactly the guide I wish had been around when I moved to Korea. 
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