The Lowdown on Teaching English in South Korea
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South Korea is undoubtedly one of our fave destinations for teaching English as a Foreign Language abroad – as it is for many people. There are so many reasons to put South Korea on your bucket list of TEFL destinations. The juxtaposition of ultra-modern cities, spectacular natural scenery, fascinating historical sites, interesting culture and outrageously good food make this country a popular choice for tourists and TEFL teachers alike. Luckily for us, there are more than enough jobs to go around for us TEFL teachers!
Why you should consider teaching English in South Korea
- The jobs
There are more EFL jobs in South Korea than there are chopsticks in China. You can work in a public school, private school, university or teaching private students – whichever teaching situation suits you.
- The salary
In South Korea you can expect to earn between 1.8 and 3.5 million won a month, which is between $1 500 and $3 000 a month. With this salary, you can live well and save money to pay off your debts back home.
- The packages
But it’s not only your salary that makes these jobs so appealing. In South Korea, your job will typically include a very generous package besides your salary. Schools will generally pay for an annual return flight home. They will offer you accommodation or a housing allowance. They will pay for your visa and cover your health insurance. All of this makes your salary much more attractive than just the number on your cheque.
Read more: English Teachers Make a Break for the East
But do you actually know what it’s like to teach English in South Korea?
Let’s look at the different options available to you as a TEFL teacher so you can make sure that South Korea is the right choice for you.
There are a number of government programmes which place you in a public school. These placements differ from working in the private sector in a number of respects. First of all, your working hours are fewer. You are paid slightly lower than in a private school but you are given a lot of paid vacation. You co-teach with a local teacher, and will most likely be the only foreign teacher in the school.
There are a few government programmes you can apply to:
SMOE places you in a public school in one of the 25 districts in Seoul. You teach for 22 hours a week but you work 40 hours a week. Each month you will earn approximately 1.8 million to 3 won, depending on your qualifications and experience. You are provided with accommodation or a housing allowance, flight reimbursement, a settling-in allowance and a severance package on completion of the contract. You need a Bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certificate or a teaching qualification, as well as a clean criminal record. Furthermore, you need to be a citizen of South Africa, Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia or New Zealand. You must be below 62 years of age. An SMOE contract is for one year.
GEPIK places you in a public school in the area surrounding Seoul known as Gyeonggi. You work 22 hours a week but your working hours are 40 a week. You can start either in March or September. Each month you will earn approximately 2.1 million won, but your pay is dependent on your qualifications. You are provided with accommodation and reimbursed for your flights. Contracts are for a year, with 20 days of paid vacation. This programme prefers experienced teachers.
EPIK is the English Programme in Korea and it is sponsored by the Korean Ministry of Education. It places you in a public school anywhere in South Korea. You teach 22 hours a week but your working hours are 40 a week. You can earn from approximately 1.8 to 2.7 million won a month, dependent on qualifications. Accommodation is provided and you are given a severance package at the end of your contract, as well as a settling-in allowance on arrival. You need a TEFL qualification and at least 100 hours of teaching experience. You also need to be a citizen of (and graduated school in) Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States or South Africa.
TaLK is the Teach and Learn in Korea programme. It allows you to teach Elementary school children in rural areas of South Korea. You work 15 hours a week, and your lessons are after school. You will earn approximately 1.5 million won a month. To be eligible for the program you must be a current tertiary student and commit to teaching for at least 6 months. You need to be a citizen of South Africa, Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States, New Zealand or Australia.
These programmes all require you to go through a recruitment agency. These agencies will help you through the rigorous application process. They will ensure you have all your paperwork in order and know how best to tackle the interview. They will also provide you with more information on your placement so you are well-prepared to go to South Korea.
Hagwons are private schools in South Korea. They provide a lot of structure for inexperienced teachers, in the form of lesson plans. Recruitment takes place throughout the year, so you don’t need to wait for the beginning or middle of the academic year to apply. You will work about 35 hours a week, though your lessons only take place in the afternoons or evenings. You can earn about $2 000 a month, with ten days paid holiday a year. Most of the teachers at a hagwon are foreigners.
There is quite a difference in experience in teaching in a public school and a hagwon. The lifestyle you lead will be quite different, so make sure you make the right choice for yourself. While South Korean students are under a lot of pressure in general, hagwons are also known as cram schools, so this can give you a good idea of their purpose. What this means for you is that often your students will be tired, stressed or unmotivated. Also bear in mind that hagwons are private businesses so your experiences will be different in different hagwons. Some hagwons have bad reputations for their working conditions, so do your due diligence when choosing which hagwon you’d like to work in.
To teach at a university you need a Master’s degree and preferably some teaching experience. You can earn approximately 2.5 – 3.5 million won and you work very few hours. To be sure, working in a university is a very good job but you need to be well-qualified and experienced.
Can I teach English in South Korea?
In order to teach English in South Korea, there are a few requirements you need to fulfil. You need to have a Bachelor’s degree (in any field) as well as a TEFL certificate, preferably from an internationally recognised provider. Some programmes or schools may have additional requirements but this will be communicated to you during the application process.
All we can say is, if you think you have got what it takes to teach in South Korea, then don’t hesitate – do it!
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Students may test their English level here: https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/content.
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LAST UPDATED: 19th July 2023
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We’ll only market other organisations’ products and services if you have said it is OK for us to do so.
You can ask us to stop sending you marketing information or withdraw your permission at any time.
ELEARNING FUTURES LTD retains personal information in line with our corporate retention requirements. Your data will be stored within the European Economic Area (“the EEA”) (The EEA consists of all EU member states, plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein). However, in some circumstances, part or all of your data may be stored or transferred outside of the European Economic Area (“the EEA”). You are deemed to accept and agree to this by using our site and submitting information to us. If we do store or transfer data outside the EEA, we will take all reasonable steps to ensure that your data is treated as safely and securely as it would be within the EEA and under the GDPR. Such steps may include, but not be limited to, the use of legally binding contractual terms between us and any third parties we engage with, and the use of the EU-approved Model Contractual Arrangements. If we intend at any time to transfer any of your data outside the EEA, we will always obtain your consent beforehand.
Right to access personal information
- Under the law, any individual has a right to ask for a copy of the personal information held about them. This means that you can ask for the information that ELEARNING FUTURES LTD holds about you. This is known as the right of ‘subject access’.
- When making a request you will need to give us:
- a request in writing (by post or by email)
- We may need to ask you to provide:
- proof of your identity
- proof of your home address
- any information that we reasonably need to locate the information you have requested (for example details of the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD offices or staff that you have had contact with and when)
We will not start looking for your information until we receive all of the above. In order to submit your request, or for help making a request, please contact us.
Rights concerning the processing of your personal information
- Right to restrict processing of personal information
- In some situations, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of your personal information. We may restrict your personal information by temporarily moving the information to another processing system, making the information unavailable to users, or temporarily removing published information from a website. We may also use technical methods to ensure the personal information is not subject to further processing and cannot be changed. When we have restricted processing of personal information, this will be clearly indicated on our systems.
- You can require us to restrict processing in the following circumstances:
- You are concerned that the information we hold about you is inaccurate. You can ask us to restrict the information until we can determine whether the information is accurate or inaccurate.
- We are processing your personal data unlawfully and you do not want us to delete the information but restrict it instead.
- We no longer need the information for the purposes for which we collected it, but they are needed by you for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims.
- You have objected to the processing (see below), and we need to decide whether the legitimate grounds we have to process the information override your legitimate interests.
Processing you think is unlawful
- If you tell us that you think we are processing your personal information unlawfully, but you do not want the information to be erased, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of that information.
- We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the processing is unlawful, and may also ask that you provide evidence to support this view.
Processing of personal information you think is inaccurate
- You can tell us if you think the personal information we are processing about you is factually inaccurate. You can require us to restrict how we use your personal information until we can verify the accuracy of the information. We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the information is inaccurate, and may also ask that you provide some supporting evidence of the alleged inaccuracy.
- If we find that the personal information we are processing about you is inaccurate, we will take appropriate steps to correct the information.
Personal information is no longer needed by ELEARNING FUTURES LTD but needed by you in connection with a legal claim
- In most circumstances, we will securely delete or dispose of personal information when we no longer need it for our legitimate business purposes. Our approach to retention is outlined in our corporate retention schedules.
- However, if the personal information we no longer need would assist you in establishing, exercising or defending a legal claim, you can require us to keep the information for as long as necessary. We may ask you to provide an explanation and any available supporting evidence that a legal claim is ongoing or contemplated.
Right to erasure of personal data (“the right to be forgotten”)
In the following circumstances, you have the right to require that ELEARNING FUTURES LTD securely deletes or destroys your personal information:
- If the personal information we hold about you is no longer necessary for the purposes for which we originally collected it.
- The processing is based on consent – if you have previously given your consent to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD collecting and processing your personal information, and you notify us that you withdraw your consent. Please note: withdrawing your consent does not mean the processing of your personal data which occurred before the withdrawal was unlawful.
- We are processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes, and you want us to stop.
- If you think ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has processed your personal information unlawfully.
If you think any of the above situations apply, we may ask you for an explanation and further information to verify this.
Right to object to processing
You have the right to object to the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD processing your personal data in the following circumstances:
Personal information used for direct marketing
If we are using your personal information to send you direct marketing, you have the right to object at any time. If you exercise this right, we will stop processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes. However, we may keep your information on a “suppression list” to ensure your information is not added to any marketing lists at some point in the future.
Automated decision making and profiling
- ‘Profiling’ is the automated use of personal data held on a computer to analyse or predict things that have a legal effect, or other similarly significant effects, on the individual. Examples would include economic situation, health, personal preferences or interests and location. You have the right not to be subject to a solely automated decision (that is, a decision made electronically, with no human intervention), and this may include profiling (although there is no general right to object to profiling). If you are concerned the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has made a solely automated decision about you, you can object.
- Please note, ELEARNING FUTURES LTD is allowed to carry out automated decisions with no human intervention where you have given your explicit consent to this processing (although you have the right to withdraw your consent).
- We are also permitted to make automated decisions with no human intervention in the following circumstances:
- The automated decision is necessary to enter into, or perform a contract, or complete a contract involving you and the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD.
- The automated decision is allowed under a law passed at the European Union level, or at the level of the European Union or EEA member state level (i.e., is allowed under national law). The law will provide safeguards to protect your rights and freedoms.
However, you still have a general right to object in both of the above circumstances, providing reasons why you think the processing is having a negative effect on you. If you do object, we will carefully consider your reasons, and decide whether to review the decision-making process in your specific case.
Right to data portability
- If you have provided your information to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD, you have the right to request and receive a copy of that information in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format.
- You also have the right to ask us to send the information we hold about you to another organisation.
- There are some situations in which the right to data portability does not apply. For further information, please contact us.
Exercising your rights concerning the processing of your personal information
If you wish to exercise any of the above rights concerning the way in which we process your personal information, please contact:
Risk Management Team
ELEARNING FUTURES LTD,
21-22 Old Steine,
Email: [email protected]
Your right to complain to a national data protection regulator (data protection supervisory authority)
- If you think we have processed your personal information unfairly or unlawfully, or we have not complied with your rights under GDPR, you have the right to complain to a national data protection regulator.
- Complaints about how we process your personal information can be considered by the data protection regulator.