Peak ESL Hiring Season in Korea
Types of ESL Teaching Jobs in Korea
How to Find Jobs Teaching English in Korea
Largest Chain Schools in Korea
Tips for ESL Teachers in Korea
Teaching Requirements for ESL Teachers in Korea
Embassy and Consulate Information in Korea
There are a wide range of teaching jobs for native English speakers with TESOL/TESL/TEFL certification in Korea. An advantage for Americans is the fact that many Korean schools want their students to have American accents, which means US residents are much more marketable to recruiters. Contracts in Korea are nearly always for one year in duration with the possibility to extend. An understanding of the English language is something that Koreans value, with most post-secondary institutions requiring a test of this skill before offering students admission into their programs.
The demand for ESL teachers in Korea is constant, which means the hiring season lasts 365 days a year. For Korean public schools, the main start dates are in February/March and August/September with applications being processed in the two to seven months preceding. Private language schools have preferred bringing in new teachers to coincide with the spring and fall term starts in recent years as well, but there are still some positions to be found practically any month of the year. There are new postings on website job boards every day, and Korean streets and newspapers are always filled with job notices regardless of the season. ESL teachers about to move to Korea have the unique advantage of deciding what time to begin teaching English in the country.
Public School System
Teaching in a Korean public school has its advantages for ESL teachers. Factors which attract many teachers to the public school system include job stability and the lower number of teaching hours (typically 22 per 40-hour workweek). English teaching positions in a public school typically pay a standard rate depending on qualifications, while payment from academies or hagwans (private education companies) varies depending on many factors. Many ESL teachers also feel more secure working at a public school because they are mandated and run by the Korean education system. Teachers looking for employment in a Korean public school should be aware that these positions offer more vacation time but they may only work with one to three other foreigners, as other subjects are taught in Korean by Korean teachers. The advantage is that foreign teachers are accompanied by Korean teachers in the classroom to assist with lesson planning and behavior management.
In addition to hiring for private language schools, a number of partners to the Oxford Seminars Job Placement Service recruit for highly sought-after public school positions through various provincial offices of education.
Private Language Schools
The easiest place for ESL teachers to find employment in Korea is in hagwans. A hagwan is a privately-run school which offers classes in English. Hagwans vary in size and the number of staff; they also vary in the courses offered to their students. When doing an Internet search, it is easy to spot both stories of positive and negative experiences teaching in hagwans. Remember that these are businesses, and while some might seem to place a higher importance on generating profit than the education of their students, don’t let horror stories scare away a great opportunity. Asking questions when being interviewed for a teaching job and spending some time researching any school that may be interested in hiring is great advice no matter where an ESL teacher is applying. Pay is typically equal to or higher than in public schools and working with several other foreigners is more common. A standard language school contract requires about 30 teaching hours per 40-hour workweek.
Universities and Colleges
Universities and technical colleges in Korea almost exclusively hire from the large pool of ESL teachers already in the country and these positions are highly sought-after. Applicants should have at least three years of experience working in the overseas ESL market to be considered and master's degree holders are strongly preferred. However, because there are a significant number of colleges and universities operating in the country, the potential for a serious ESL teacher’s career growth is almost limitless. Many of these jobs pay similar wages to teaching in the public school system, and compensate this discrepancy by offering more benefits, including more vacation time.
It is possible to make some extra money working as an English teacher offering private tutoring to Korean students. Teachers thinking about offering private English lessons should consult the contract they originally signed with the school. Most schools in Korea stipulate that teachers may not teach English anywhere other than in the school that hired them. Violating this agreement will risk many elements of an ESL career in Korea and could result in the loss of a job, monetary fines, or deportation. Be sure to discuss the possibility of teaching private English lessons with any employer before signing a contract. If an English teacher is able to work delivering private lessons, they will be able to charge around 22,000 - 80,000 Won hourly.
EPIK [English Program in Korea]
EPIK was established by the National Institute for International Education in 1995 to improve the English-speaking abilities of students and teachers in public schools throughout Korea. Guidelines for qualifications can be found at the EPIK Website. Placements are made in September and March, but applications are accepted year-round. Interested individuals should note that contracts with EPIK are for a minimum of one year, renewable each year following, and that preference is given to those having previous teaching experience with children.
CNOE [Chungcheongnam-do Office of Education]
Much like EPIK, CNOE is a government-run group that manages schools in South Chungcheong province (south of Seoul) and recruits instructors to teach in public schools throughout the province. These positions tend to be available outside of the standard EPIK intakes, and is a good option to explore for those requiring a more flexible timeline.
GOE [Gyeongsangnam-do Office of Education]
GOE is the government program that manages schools in South Gyeongsang province (west of the beach city of Busan) and recruits instructors to teach in public schools throughout the province. As with CNOE, these positions tend to be available outside of the standard EPIK intakes, and is a good option to explore for those requiring a more flexible timeline.
Other Jobs Teaching English in Korea
With English being the international language of business, many Korean companies are incorporating English lessons into their employees' work day. Korean businesses find it easier to hire in-house English teachers rather than send employees to a hagwan. These jobs typically have longer hours than a public school or hagwan, often featuring split shifts with classes in the mornings and evenings, and usually do not include accommodations. ESL teachers choosing this career path may have the option of negotiating salary; these types of positions are best secured in person by teachers with experience in Korea.
Graduates of Oxford Seminars receive our Job Placement Service with exclusive access to established schools and recruiters around the world, including Korea.
There are also many websites which feature lists of schools looking for TESOL/TESL/TEFL certified teachers to teach English in Korea. Decide which elements of teaching English in Korea are important to you before applying for any teaching jobs.
Individual answers to the following questions should provide some insight:
Additional ESL Resources to Help Teach English in Korea
The following links are recommended resources for individuals interested in ESL teaching in Korea:
Resources that may include ESL teaching jobs are:
Korean parents consider knowledge of the English language to be a very high priority for their children, often spending large portions of their income on additional private education. With such a large ESL market, there are many chain schools and academies specifically for teaching English in all regions of Korea, 12 months a year.
The requirements and guidelines below are listed for ESL teacher applicants to Korea who are citizens of USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa.
The most common visa for which ESL teachers apply is the E2 (Long Term Visa to Teach a Foreign Language).
Minimum Requirements to Apply for Teaching Positions in Korea
Types of Applicable Visas
Important Visa Information
Standard Process for Obtaining Documentation to Work Legally in Korea
Standard Required Documents for Visa Issuance Number
It is important to check with the Korean Embassy/Consulate as variations in requirements sometimes occur.
The United States of America Embassy Offices in Korea
Embassy of the United States, Seoul
188 Sejong-daero, Jongno-gu
Republic of Korea
Phone: 82 2 397 4114
Fax: 82 2 7397-4080
Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm
Canadian Embassy Offices in Korea
Canadian Embassy, Seoul
21, Jeongdong-gil (Jeong-dong), Jung-gu
Republic of Korea
Phone: 82 2 3783 6000
Fax: 82 2 3783 6239
Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 11:45 am; 12:45 pm to 5:00 pm
Australian Embassy Offices in Korea
Australian Embassy, Seoul
19th Floor Kyobo Building
1 Jong-Ro, Jongno-Gu
Republic of Korea
Phone: 82 2 2003 0100
Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday, 9:00 am to noon; 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm
British Embassy Offices in Korea
British Embassy, Seoul
Sejong-daero 19-gil 24, Jung-gu
Republic of Korea
Phone: 82 2 3210 5500
Fax: 82 2 725 1738
Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday, 9:30 am to 12:00 pm; 1:30pm to 5:15 pm (closes at 5:00 pm on Fridays)
Irish Embassy Offices in Korea
Irish Embassy, Seoul
Leema Bldg. 13F
42, Jongro 1-gil, Jongno-gu
Republic of Korea
Phone: 82 2 721 7200
Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday, 9:00 am to 12:30 pm; 1:30 pm to 5:00 pm
New Zealand Embassy Offices in Korea
New Zealand Embassy, Seoul
8th Floor, Jeong Dong Building , 21-15, Jeongdong-gil, Jung-gu
Republic of Korea
Phone: 82 2 3701 7700
Fax: 82 2 3701 7701
Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday, 9:00 am to 12:30pm and 1:30pm to 5:30 pm
Korean Embassy Offices in the US
Embassy of the Republic of Korea, Washington
2450 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
Washington, DC 20008
Phone: 1 202-939-5600
Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday, 9:00 am to 12:00 pm; 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Korean Embassy Offices in Canada
Embassy of the Republic of Korea, Ottawa
150 Boteler Street
Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 5A6
Phone: 1 613 244 5010
Hours of Operation: Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 12:00 pm; 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm