The 5 Best Teach English in Korea Programs (w/ Details & Requirements)

by: Emma Searight ESL Authority Emma Searight | Last Updated October 18, 2019

If you’re considering South Korea as a destination for teaching English, you’re probably wanting to find out more information about the various teach English programs on offer there. From highly sought after public school teaching programs to private language institutes (hagwons), there is sure to be one that suits you.

With competitive salaries and excellent perks (including paid airfare and accommodation), it’s no wonder South Korea is a popular destination for ESL teachers.

Read on to find out about the 5 best teach English programs in Korea:

  • EPIK
  • GEPIK
  • SMOE
  • TaLK
  • Hagwons

EPIK – English Program in Korea

EPIK is a teaching program sponsored by the Korean Ministry of Education. Teachers are placed in public schools (either elementary, middle or high schools) in urban and rural regions across South Korea. Prospective teachers can indicate a preference for a specific province, but locations are ultimately determined by EPIK. It’s best to be flexible when applying for EPIK, as you could end up anywhere in South Korea!

Being South Korea’s most well-known government teaching program, EPIK is competitive to get accepted to. EPIK hires in accordance to the public school calendar, with contracts starting 1st March and 1st September. The application process is strict and extensive, so it’s recommended to begin applications for the program as soon as doors open – February for the September start and August for the March start.

Job Summary

  • Salaries from 2 to 2.7 million KRW a month (between $1,800 USD and $2,400 USD), depending on experience
  • 1-year contract
  • Monday to Friday, 8 hours a day
  • 22 hours actual teaching time
  • Working alongside a co-teacher
  • Class size between 10 and 40 students
  • Contracts with one or multiple schools
  • 18 paid vacation days
  • Benefits include accommodation and reimbursed round trip airfare

Requirements

  • Native English speaker with citizenship from either Canada, USA, UK, Republic of Ireland, South Africa, Australia or New Zealand
  • 3 – 4 year bachelor’s degree or above (in any subject)
  • TEFL certificate or teaching license or one year TaLK scholar experience (note: if your degree is in Education, you don’t need a TEFL or any of these teaching qualifications)
  • Clean criminal background check
  • Meet the requirements for a Korean E2 visa
  • Be in good mental and physical health
  • Be under the age of 62

For a more in-depth insight into the program, including eligibility, benefits, the application process and what it’s really like teaching for EPIK, read our Complete Guide to the EPIK Program in South Korea.

SMOE – Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education

SMOE places teachers directly into public schools (usually Elementary level) around the bustling city of Seoul. It’s also referred to as EPIK-Seoul, as SMOE now recruits through EPIK.

Prospective SMOE teachers apply through EPIK, specifying Seoul as their location preference on the application. If successful, teachers are guaranteed to be placed in Seoul. It’s a very popular and competitive program, so applicants must make sure to apply as early as possible.

Job Summary

  • Salaries from 2 to 3 million KRW a month (between $1,800 USD and $2,650 USD), depending on experience
  • 1-year contract
  • Monday to Friday, 8 hours a day
  • 22 hours actual teaching time
  • Working alongside a co-teacher
  • 21 paid vacation days
  • Benefits include accommodation and reimbursed round trip airfare

Requirements

  • Native English speaker with citizenship from either Canada, USA, UK, Republic of Ireland, South Africa, Australia or New Zealand
  • 3 – 4 year bachelor’s degree or above (in any subject)
  • TEFL certificate or teaching license or one year TaLK scholar experience (note: if your degree is in Education with a major in Teaching, TESOL or Second Language Studies, you don’t need a TEFL or any of these teaching qualifications)
  • Clean criminal background check
  • Meet the requirements for a Korean E2 visa
  • Be in good mental and physical health
  • Be under the age of 62

Find out more by reading our Complete Guide to the SMOE Program in South Korea.

GEPIK – Gyeonggi English Program in Korea

GEPIK places teachers in public schools (typically Elementary level) around the Gyeonggi region, either in urban or rural areas. GEPIK recently merged with EPIK, so applicants wishing to teach in this province now apply through EPIK, stating Gyeonggi as their preferred location. Its close proximity to Seoul makes it pretty popular, so positions fill up fast.

Job Summary

  • Salaries from 2 to 2.5 million KRW a month (between $1,800 USD and $2,250 USD), depending on experience
  • 1-year contract
  • Monday to Friday, 8 hours a day
  • 22 hours actual teaching time
  • Working alongside a co-teacher
  • 20 paid vacation days
  • Benefits include accommodation and reimbursed round trip airfare

Requirements

  • Native English speaker with citizenship from either Canada, USA, UK, Republic of Ireland, South Africa, Australia or New Zealand
  • 3 – 4 year bachelor’s degree or above (in any subject)
  • TEFL certificate or teaching license (note: if your degree is in English, Education or Linguistics, you don’t need a TEFL or teaching license)
  • Clean criminal background check
  • Meet the requirements for a Korean E2 visa
  • Be in good mental and physical health
  • Be under the age of 62

For a more in-depth break down of the program, check out our Complete Guide to the GEPIK Program in South Korea.

TaLK – Teach and Learn in Korea

TaLK is an educational scholarship program placing teachers in elementary public schools in rural areas of South Korea, with the aim of supporting their English education. TaLK, often referred to as EPIK’s sister program, is one of the few options for teaching English in South Korea without holding a full Bachelor’s degree. As long as you have completed two full years of university education you can apply.

The application process is comprehensive and TaLK hires in accordance to the public school calendar, with contracts starting 1st March and 1st September.

TaLK offers all the similar great perks to the other public school teaching programs, including free accomodation, reimbursed round airfare trip and paid vacation. The salary is less, but teachers receive a pretty decent monthly stipend to live off.

Job Summary

  • Pay is a monthly capped stipend of 1.5 million KRW (approx $1330 USD).
  • 1-year contract (option for a 6 month contract)
  • Monday to Friday
  • 15 hours actual teaching time, typically after school classes
  • Working alongside a co-teacher
  • 7 paid leave days a semester
  • Benefits include accommodation and reimbursed round trip airfare

Requirements

  • Native English speaker with citizenship from either Canada, USA, UK, Republic of Ireland, South Africa, Australia or New Zealand
  • A graduate OR current undergraduate with at least 2 years of academic completion
  • Clean criminal background check
  • Meet the requirements for a Korean E2 visa
  • Be in good mental and physical health

Check out our Complete Guide to the TaLK Program in South Korea to find out more!

Hagwons

Hagwons are private education companies that cater to students ranging from young children to adults. Essentially, hagwons operate like businesses, separate to the South Korean public school system. Their purpose is to offer additional English lessons outside of normal schools/jobs, so they tend to operate during the evenings and weekends.

Unlike the public school programs, teachers have autonomy over the exact location and hagwon where they work. There are a huge number of hagwons operating in the country, meaning there are ample ESL jobs in Korea and a wide variety of establishments to choose from. Hagwons typically hire all year round, with the visa application process taking approximately 2 – 3 months. The government has no hand in employment decisions, it’s down to individual hagwons.

Job Summary

  • Salaries anywhere from 2 to 3 million KRW a month (between $1,800 USD and $2,650 USD), depending on experience and the individual hagwon
  • Working week will vary between hagwons. Typically Monday to Friday, 2pm to 10pm. There may be split shifts with morning work
  • Approximately 25 – 30 hours actual teaching time
  • Some hagwons may expect teachers to work Saturdays
  • Paid overtime opportunities
  • Small class sizes (usually 4 – 15 students)
  • Usually 10 paid vacation days
  • Benefits include accommodation and reimbursed round trip airfare

Requirements

  • Native English speaker with citizenship from either Canada, USA, UK, Republic of Ireland, South Africa, Australia or New Zealand
  • 3 – 4 year bachelor’s degree or above (in any subject)
  • Clean criminal background check
  • Meet the requirements for a Korean E2 visa
  • Be in good mental and physical health

The above are the essential requirements to work in a hagwon. It’s important to note that each hagwon is different and may set its own additional application requirements on top of these. The following may be preferred by some hagwons:

To find out more about hagwons, including the benefits, downsides and suitability, read our guide on What Is a Hagwon and Should You Work at One?

Emma Searight ESL Authority

Emma Searight

Emma is a writer for ESL Authority and a former teacher. She lives down by the sea in Cornwall, and enjoys surfing, cold water swimming, and going on adventures.

2 Comments

  1. Good day, Your feedback will be much appreciated which programme does one qualify for if she/he hold a 3-4 year Diploma with Postgraduate Certificate in Education (equivalent ti Degree) plus a TEFL Certificate. Thank you.

    Reply
    • If you have a bachelor’s degree + post grad degree (am I understanding that correctly?) you are qualified to teach pretty much anywhere, including these programs.

      Reply

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