Teach English in South Korea
Teaching in South Korea is a FREE program that offers some of the best benefits packages for English teachers in the world. High salaries, free housing, paid vacation and contract completion bonuses are only some of the many advantages of participating in this Teach in Korea program.
Greenheart Travel has been selected by the South Korean Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and the South Korean National Institute of International Education to offer this program to qualified candidates. All expenses are absorbed by the South Korean government in support of its goals to foster international education and cross-cultural understanding. No teaching experience is required.
- Free program – no program fee
- Paid English teaching positions throughout South Korea
- One year contracts
- 10 day orientation upon arrival
- Free furnished studio apartment
- Salary of about $1,600 to $2,200 USD (1.8 – 2.5 million KRW)
- Approximately 30+ days of paid vacation
- Flights Reimbursement
- South Korean National Health Insurance coverage
Picture yourself abroad and read our participants’ blog posts on life as an English teacher in South Korea!
Emily shares her favorite memories from her teach abroad experience in South Korea:
There are two program start dates per year. All contracts are for one full year. Upcoming start dates are:
- Program dates: August 2015 – September 2016
- Program length: 1 year contract (52 weeks)
- Application available: February 1, 2015
- How To Get Started NOW for Fall 2015
- Deadline for Round 1 application materials submitted by: May 15, 2015
- Program dates: February 2016 – March 2017
- Program length: 1 year contract (52 weeks)
- Application Available: August 1, 2015
- Deadline for Round 1 Application Materials: November 15, 2015
- Citizen of the U.S., Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa (no exceptions)
- ONE of the following:
- Bachelor’s in any subject with a TEFL/TESOL certification (Minimum 100 hours)
- Bachelor’s Degree in English, Education, or Linguistics (no exceptions, this must be exactly what it says on your diploma)
- Master’s degree in any subject
- 55 years of age or younger
- NO criminal record including underage drinking charges, DUIs, misdemeanors, etc. (besides very minor traffic offenses like speeding)
- Must have studied in one of the above seven citizenship countries since the 7th grade (no later)
- You have the strong desire to learn about other cultures
There are no exceptions to the eligibility requirements. Degrees in English related subjects like Creative Writing, Journalism, etc. will not qualify you for the program.
There is no fee for this program. Frugal teachers are able to save up to $15,000 per year!
- Superior customer support and guidance from Greenheart Travel throughout the complicated application and documents process
- 10 day orientation upon arrival, including meals and accommodation
- Free furnished studio apartment
- Monthly Salary of 1.8 – 2.5 million KRW per month (about $1,600 to $2,200 USD, tax-deferred), depending on location, experience and qualifications.
- 30+ day of paid vacation (approximately)
- Settlement Allowance in first month’s paycheck (~$270)
- Flights to and from South Korea are reimbursed in your first and last month’s paycheck (~$1,200 each way)
- Contract completion bonus equal to one month’s salary
- Step-by-step guidance and support throughout application process, including pre-departure orientation
- National Health Insurance coverage
- No program or application fees
Personal startup costs include:
- Gathering and mailing your application and visa documents
- E-2 Work Visa Application Fee
- One-way flight to Korea (reimbursed in first month’s paycheck)
- $1,000-$1,500 to get you started in Korea
In your first month’s paycheck, in addition to your monthly salary you’ll receive about $1,500 extra, which is meant to reimburse you for your flight to South Korea, and your other start-up expenses.
You will be provided with a single, furnished, studio apartment. Teachers are responsible for paying for utilities (~$20-60 USD per month). Apartments will come furnished, and typically with a washing machine, refrigerator, and stovetop.
As one of the most wired nations in the world, Korea has Internet access readily available for reasonable rates. Your co-teacher will assist you with setting this up for your apartment if you would like. South Korea also has PC bangs (internet cafés) on nearly every corner.
What is EPIK?
EPIK stands for English Program in Korea, a program sponsored by the Korean Ministry of Education. The EPIK program was established in 1995 with the mandate to improve the English speaking abilities of students and teachers in Korea and to develop cultural exchanges.
I don’t graduate until December, can I apply before I have my diploma?
Yes, you can submit a “Letter of Intended Graduation” from your university’s registrar that will serve as your diploma until you receive it. You must submit your diploma to Greenheart Travel by January 15th, 2015 for the upcoming round. If you will not have your diploma printed by then, you will need to wait until the following round.
I don’t have my TEFL/TESOL/CELTA yet, can I apply while in the process of obtaining it?
Yes, you can submit a “Proof of Enrollment Letter” from your course provider. You must submit your TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate to Greenheart Travel by January 15th, 2015 for the upcoming round. This means you should aim to complete the certification by the end of December.
How likely is it that I will get my preferred city or province?
That all depends. There are limited amounts of positions in each city and province. The positions are filled on a first come, first served basis. Teachers are only referred to their preferred location once all of their documents have been completely and correctly submitted. Some locations are more popular than others, and fill very quickly. Metropolitan city provinces fill the fastest. If you have your heart set on a specific location, it is important to submit your documents as early in the process as possible!
How competitive is the program?
This program becomes more and more popular each round, and has become pretty competitive. It is recommended that you strengthen your application as much as possible with a strong (preferably in-person) TEFL certification or teaching experience. We will also send you over 30 sample interview questions, to help prepare you for your interview with EPIK staff.
How do I get a visa?
Once you receive your contract and notice of appointment, you will need to apply for your E-2 Work Visa at the nearest Korean Embassy or Consulate. You will be able to download the application from the consulates website. It will only take a few days to get your visa once you apply. We will provide all of the documents and instructions for applying for your visa then.
What is an apostille?
You may have noticed that a couple of the required documents for the program require something called an “apostille”. An “apostille” is a form of authentication issued to documents for international use. It looks like a certificate with a seal that is attached to your document with a staple. Applicants must get an apostille for their criminal record checks and Bachelor’s Degrees.
Can I bring my children? No.
Can I bring pets? No.
Will somebody meet me at the airport?
Yes! If you arrive on the recommended date, there will be an EPIK registration desk once you exit customs. EPIK representatives will be waiting for you to sign you in and direct you to the transportation to orientation. Transportation to orientation will be arranged for you.
What are my startup costs?
You will need to pay for your one-way plane ticket to Korea up front, which averages about $700-1,000. You’ll also need to bring living expenses for your first month (around $700 to $1000). At the end of your first month’s work, you’ll receive your first month’s paycheck, flight reimbursement and settlement allowance.
When will my flight be reimbursed?
EPIK teachers are given an entrance allowance of 1.3 Million KRW (~$1,100 USD) to cover the cost of your flight to Korea. This payment will be paid to you in your first month’s paycheck. Every EPIK teacher receives the same flight allowance, regardless of pay scale level or the actual cost of the flight.
I am already teaching in Korea, is the application process any different for me?
If you are working for a hagwon and would like to apply for the EPIK program, you will still have to apply the same as everyone else and follow all directions here. We will require all of the required documents, as the program can’t count on your hagwon to have screened you in the same way that they screen their applicants. EPIK will want to see all documents if they will sponsor your E-2 visa with their program.
I am a vegetarian – will this be a problem in South Korea?
You will be able to find a lot of fresh vegetables, fruit, noodles and tofu in your local grocery store. It may be more challenging, as it is anywhere, to get vegetarian meals when you go out to restaurants. Vegetarians should be aware that most Korean dishes are prepared using fish sauce or other seafood. Strict vegetarians or vegans should expect to do their own grocery shopping and prepare most of their meals at home.
Is South Korea safe?
South Korea is a very safe country. However, just like in any country, you should exercise some caution: be aware of your surrounds, keep an eye on your belongings, don’t walk alone late at night, etc.
Is there a threat from North Korea?
Although there are tensions between North and South Korea, there is no threat to South Korea at this time. For more information about relations between North and South Korea, please visit the U.S Department of State website.
Can I use my credit card in Korea?
You will be issued a Korean debit card when you open your Korean bank account which can be used almost everywhere. You will also be able to us major credit cards at most stores, hotels and tourist locations.
Will I have a bank account in Korea?
Your school will help you set up a bank account at a local bank that you will get your paychecks directly deposited into. Your paychecks will always be in Korean Won (KRW).
Is it expensive to live in Korea?
Living costs in South Korea can be reasonable or expensive depending on your lifestyle! For example, a bowl of bibimbop for dinner will run you around $4-5, a bottle of water costs about $ .30, and toothpaste costs about $ .80.
Will I pay Korean taxes?
If you are American, you are exempt from Korean taxes for the first 2 years you live in Korea, but you will have to provide an IRS form 6166 to your school. Instructions on applying for this will be provided once you have been accepted on the program. For all other nationalities, the taxes will depend, so ask your program manager for more information.
There will be a 10-day orientation when you first arrive in South Korea. During orientation, you will be grouped into classes and activities with all of the other new teachers that will be placed in the same location as you. The orientation includes Korean cultural tours, social events, performances, tips for adjusting to life in Korea, guides to effective lesson planning and much more.
Typically EPIK orientations are broken into two groups, depending on where you’re placed. Orientations are very large and you will likely get the chance to meet 300-500 other teachers during your first 10 days in Korea. Orientation is usually held on a campus at a university, and you will stay in the dorms with a roommate of the same sex (unless you are married). Accommodations and meals are included throughout the orientation.
Transportation from orientation to your placement will be arranged for you. You will receive your placement information at the end of orientation.
For a full in depth account of EPIK orientation please check out our teacher Sarah’s blog.
You will find out which city or province you have been placed in before you leave for Korea, when you receive your contract.
- Public Schools throughout South Korea
- Maximum of 25 teaching hours per week, Monday through Friday
- One year contracts
- Placements in Elementary, Middle, and High schools
- Public school schedule – no work on weekends, nights, or national holidays!
- Teach English alongside a South Korean co-teacher
- Assist with development of teaching materials
- Create fun activities for English language learning
- Design lesson plans
- Attend faculty meetings and social events
- Supervise extracurricular and/or sports activities
You will be working as a guest English teacher at a public school five days a week. Classroom hours are limited to 25 hours per week, and you are expected to be at school for 40 hours per week. These extra hours at school are to be used for lesson planning. You will be working alongside a Korean English Teacher as a teacher’s assistant. Experiences will vary by school, but you will be expected to create lesson plans, lead lessons, and work with students to improve their level of English. You may also be expected to participate in some extra-curricular activities at the school, and go to outings with other teachers.
Scroll over South Korea to see where our Greenheart Travel Teachers are placed!
The application is released for each round around 6 months before the start date. You cannot fill out the application until this round’s version is released, as the application looks slightly different for every intake. Old applications from previous rounds will not be accepted.
The application process at a glance:
- Do your research, read our blogs, and decide if teaching in Korea is for you!
- If you do not yet qualify, start your TEFL/TESOL certification
- Wait for your intended round’s application to be released and send the completed file, letters of recommendation, and photo to Greenheart Travel via email (NOTE: the files needed to apply are large, so please follow up and make sure we have received them)
- Interview with Greenheart Travel
- Interview with EPIK representative in Korea via Skype webcam
- Once you have passed BOTH interviews, send in completed hard copy document package to Greenheart Travel in Chicago. This includes criminal record checks, diplomas, transcripts, etc.
- Placement process in Korea
- Receive your placement and contract, apply for your visa, book your flight
The application process takes around 6 months; however, many documents needed are time sensitive. For example, the FBI background check (for US citizens) is only valid for 6 months. For this reason you should follow our timeline to the process carefully. We will soon be accepting applications for Spring 2015 (February). To be on the list to receive the application when it is released, please select APPLY NOW on the left and insert your information. If you want to apply for a future round, please see the timeline below, you should wait until around 6 months before your desired departure date to start the process.
EPIK Application Process
To apply, you must fill out the current round’s official EPIK application, and submit it to Greenheart Travel sdorsey [at] greenhearttravel [dot] org via email along with a passport style photo and two professional or academic letters of recommendation. Once your documents have been reviewed by the team, and you have passed the first round of interviews with Greenheart Travel, you will be scheduled for a Skype interview with an interviewer in Korea. Greenheart Travel will send you a list of questions to prepare for the interview.
If you pass your interview, you will be asked to submit the rest of your documents in hard copy format to our office in Chicago. For a full list of documents needed, please click APPLY NOW to receive detailed information regarding the application process.
It is very important to pay attention to detail while filling out your application and gathering your documents. EPIK does reject documents if they are not submitted correctly. This can slow down your application process immensely, or disqualify you.
Applying with a friend/spouse/significant other
You can apply as a “joint application” with your friend or significant other, but placements near each other are not guaranteed. EPIK only provides guaranteed joint applications and shared apartments for married couples.
Acceptance and Placement
You will know if you have been “accepted” to the program after your second interview with EPIK staff in Korea. This acceptance does not guarantee a placement. You can only be placed once you submit your complete package of documents. From here, positions are given to accepted applicants on a first come first served basis, based on who turns in all of their completed documents first.
While we know it is difficult, we ask for your patience during this time, as it can be a couple of months before you hear word about where you are placed, and receive your contract.
Notification of the location of your placement varies by hiring round. Greenheart Travel will notify you as soon as we find out that you have final approval. At this time, you’ll learn which city or province you are placed in, but not your specific placement location. The timing of this notification depends on the timing of your documents. Usually, contracts are sent out 1-2 months before the contract start date.
You will enter Korea on an E-2 Work Visa. You can only apply for this visa once you have been placed and have received your contract documents in the mail. We will provide all of the documents and instructions for applying for your visa then.
Unless you majored in English, Education, or Linguistics, or have a Master’s degree in any subject, you will need to become TEFL certified to qualify for the Teach in Korea program.
TEFL Requirements to qualify for the EPIK Program:
- TEFL certification of at least 100 hours
- In general, these hours can be online, however, EPIK gives preference to applicants who have taken an in-person course, or a course that has at least 20 hours of in-person instruction.
- Seoul positions require at least 20 hours of in person instruction
- Busan positions require at least 50 hours of in person instruction
- Greenheart Travel offers an online course that will certify you for 150 online hours, and 20 in-person hours. This course will fully qualify you to teach in South Korea.
Which TEFL Course should you take if you want to teach in South Korea? Read more here.
I don’t have my TEFL/TESOL/CELTA yet, can I apply while in the process of obtaining it?
Yes, you can submit a “Proof of Enrollment Letter” from your course provider. You must submit your TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate to Greenheart Travel by July 20th or January 20th for Fall and Spring respectively.
Sound like your kind of adventure? Learn more!
Get in on the conversation about teaching English in Korea and join our Greenheart Travel Teach in Korea Facebook group!
If you’re unsure about which program is the best fit for you, head to our Resources Page for more info on all of our Teach Abroad programs.