Teaching in South Korea: The Skinny

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Getting here


First, determine what age group you want to teach. Do you like kindergarteners? Do you find high school students fun and challenging? What about teaching middle school or elementary school? Some schools are all-girls or all-boys schools. You may enjoy teaching in one of those schools.

Next, find an ad online. Check out Seriousteachers.org and Dave’s ESL Cafe.com. Both will help you find a job.

Jobs with a school district are much different than with an academy. After-school academies teach English to kids after school.  Generally, these academies will only give you about a week off a year. They also have very strict interpretations of how you can teach. Since they allow you to teach in the afternoon and evening (my job was from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.), some love this schedule. They also have kindergarten programs during the day. The school districts offer about 18 days paid vacation, and you have a Korean-speaking co-teacher to help you teach. You may, however, be teaching in more than one school, getting from school to school on the subway or a bus, because some school districts “share” teachers.

If you want to teach adults, you must have a master’s degree to teach college. I don’t know the requirements for teaching adults in adult academies, such as at Berlitz. These jobs are split shifts. You teach very early in the morning, have a long break, then start teaching again in the afternoon. People I spoke to generally love it or hate it.

Once you have checked out the job and its qualifications, go ahead and call the recruiter, agency, or the person hiring. Generally, Korean schools hire agents to hire their overseas staff. There are some very good agencies out there. I used GMSC Vancouver in the past.  You will probably have several interviews on Skype.

Be very careful to start to get your paperwork as soon as you can. The FBI background check can take three months! You will, most likely, need to get your bachelor’s degree apostilled as well. That can take a while as well. Make sure you have everything you need, or you can’t get a visa. Visa requirements change. Be sure you check them carefully!

You can live anywhere in Korea you want, depending on whether you want to teach in a school district or an academy. School districts are restricting foreigners in Seoul. I have lived near Seoul, and in a small town near a rice paddy. They all have their pros and cons. I do love Busan!

One more thing…it’s COLD here eight months of the year, unless you live on Jeju Island. It gets cold there for about six months. So, be sure you can stand the snow!

Busan Professor X. Pat

English: Students don Korean Flag Umbrellas to...

English: Students don Korean Flag Umbrellas to mark their team affiliation at School Sports Day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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