Teaching English in South Korea is an incredible opportunity for anyone of any age. Despite your circumstances, you are likely to find a job teaching some of the most inspiring young people you’ll ever meet. All you need is a bachelor’s degree and an open mind.
From what I’ve heard, Korea offers you the best for the least. Meaning, you can come to Korea with absolutely no teaching experience and still make a very comfortable living. There are several things to consider when deciding a destination, South Korea or otherwise: Do you have a teaching degree? Certificate? Where do you want to teach, city or rural? How much money are you expecting to make? The list goes on.
To get a good idea of what each potential country offers you, do a quick google search. You’re sure to find thousands of answers about different contracts, cities and the pros and cons of each.
If you’re willing to pay extra money, you can certainly get a certificate (TEFL, TESOL, etc.) that will qualify you to teach in certain countries. For example, I gave serious consideration to teaching in Prague before I came to Korea but was hesitant to pay for the training when it wasn’t necessary in several locations.
Just because you don’t need experience in Korea doesn’t mean the job or your potential boss is untrustworthy. Of course, there are schools and academies that treat their employees badly, pay late or fire teachers near the end of their contract; horror stories certainly exist. I find you can easily avoid these situations by talking to current teachers at your prospective school. Ask them questions about their boss, hours, students, apartment, anything you can think of. It’s better to ask too much than too little so you know exactly what you’re getting into when you sign a contract.
In Korea, you can teach in either a private academy (hagwon) or a public school. Each has its own positives and negatives.
- A little higher pay
- Later working hours (usually around 1:00 pm – 9:00 pm)
- Smaller classes
- Less vacation
- Schools can sometimes take advantage of teachers
- Lower pay
- Early mornings (usually start around 8:00 am)
- More students
- Teaching degree or experience is usually preferred
- Much more vacation time (sometimes paid)
- Contracts are better (less chance of “shady” activity)
Regardless of which job you choose, you’ll receive free round-trip airfare and free rent among other perks.
Still not sure which is best for you? Contact a recruiter. Again, my best advice is to google some combination of “recruiter to teach English in Korea” and you’re sure to find one that is suitable for you. They’ll assist you with finding a job, setting up an interview and getting a visa.
Beware: Recruiters make money for getting teachers into Korea and into schools, which means they may not always have your best interest in mind. They could whitewash a contract or make a school seem better than it really is. Make sure you talk to current employees and check blacklist sites before you sign anything.
Once you find a recruiter and a school, it’s time to start your visa process. The steps and required documents are always changing and it seems as though it’s becoming harder for foreigners to enter the country. If you’d like more advice, check out Got a job? Now get a visa for help.
Once you’ve sent your documents off, completed your interviews and received your visa, you’re ready to go! Always keep an open mind and be prepared to face the inevitable, overwhelming feeling of homesickness. But more importantly, prepare for an amazing and life changing experience.