There is a very strong demand for ESL teachers in Korea with positions to teach in
public or private schools. The Oxford Seminars Job Placement
has access to many positions with reputable schools and
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
The demand for ESL teachers in Korea is particularly high in February and August,
but there are positions available throughout the year. For Korean public schools,
the main start dates are in February/March and August/September with applications
being processed in the four months preceding. There are new job postings on the
Internet every day, and Korean streets and newspapers are always filled with job
notices regardless of the season.
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. English teaching positions in a public school
typically pay a standard rate depending on qualifications, while payment from
academies or hagwons (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
Private Language Schools
The easiest place for ESL teachers to find employment in Korea is in hagwons. A
hagwon is a privately-run school which offers classes in English. Hagwons 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 hagwons. 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.
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 10,000 - 50,000 KRW
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. ESL teachers are encouraged to apply through their local Korean
embassy or consulate, or through an EPIK-approved recruiting agency. Guidelines for
qualifications can be found at the EPIK Website
are made in September and March, but applications are accepted several months
beforehand. 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.
GEPIK [Gyeonggi English Program in Korea]
Much like EPIK, GEPIK is a government-run group that manages schools in Gyeonggi
province (which surrounds the metropolis of Seoul) and recruits instructors to teach
in public schools throughout the province. Many of these schools are located in the
suburbs of Seoul and are accessible to downtown by subway. A number of partners to
the Oxford Seminars Job
recruit for public school positions through EPIK, GEPIK
and other provincial or metropolitican offices of education.
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 hagwon.
These jobs typically have longer hours than a public school or hagwon, 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
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
Individual answers to the following questions should provide some insight:
- Does working in a large urban area such as Seoul appeal more than working in a
smaller rural region?
- How much of a factor is salary and quality of accommodations when considering
applications to teaching jobs?
- What level of English would students need to communicate?
- What age range would comprise the ideal classroom?
- Are there any concerns about taking public transit?
- Is travel important? How much off-time would the ideal teaching position
Additional ESL Resources to Help Teach English in Korea
The following links are recommended resources for individuals interested in ESL
teaching in Korea:
- Oxford Seminars
ESL Teaching Resources
Article on Korea
- Job Monkey Language Guide
Resources that may include ESL teaching jobs are:
- Oxford Seminars
English Language Schools Directory
- ESL Cafe
- Korea Herald
- The Chosun Ilbo
Largest Chain Schools in Korea
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
- One of the largest chain schools in Korea, this is a
great place to start looking for English teaching jobs. Chungdahm Learning boasts
over 40,000 students across the country with over 200 locations in cities including
Seoul, Busan, Jeju, Daegu.
- ECC has locations throughout Korea; including several offices within
Seoul. Being a large company, they are able to offer very competitive salaries and
opportunities for their teachers. There are ECC schools in Seoul, Incheon, Ilsan,
Bundang, Daejeon, Daegu, Changwon, and Busan.
- There are a lot of opportunities for ESL teachers in Korea, so decide what type of
English teaching job is the best fit. Elementary school positions are the most
- Learning the Korean language overnight is impossible, but it is highly recommended
to spend some time learning as many common phrases as you can. In many urban areas
it is possible to find free Korean language lessons. Hangul, the modern Korean
alphabet, was created by academics some 600 years ago so that even a "commoner"
could learn to read and write. It is an extremely phonetic alphabet that can be
learned in just days.
- For the most part, Korean apartments are smaller than those in North America. Do
not expect to have a lot of space for items that can easily stay at home.
- The majority of schools will pay for, or reimburse, air transportation costs.
Typically the cost of a one-way ticket to Korea will be reimbursed within one month
of arriving and the ticket home will be provided at the end of the contract. One can
bring this initial cost down by spending some time researching various options on
- Practice using chopsticks. Do not come to Korea expecting to use a fork and knife
- Moving to the other side of the world usually means that ESL teachers must find
someone they trust to manage their finances while they are gone. Some choose friends
or family while others choose to retain the services of a professional financial
advisor. The rules for filing income tax are generally the same whether one resides
in the United States or abroad. For more information visit: IRS
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
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
- BA (3 or 4 year) degree from an English-speaking university/college. A temporary
degree or graduation letter from university is not acceptable.
- Native English speaker (English spoken since birth), or have resided and been
formally educated for at least 10 years (from at least 7th grade) in an
English-speaking country (USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, or South
- Citizenship in a country where English is the primary language (USA, Canada, UK,
Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa).
Types of Applicable Visas
- E2 (Long-term Visa to Teach a Foreign Language).
- E1 (Professor Visa): designed for those who wish to teach in a university setting
(not confined to teaching foreign languages) and who are qualified according to the
'Higher Education Act' standards.
- C4 (Short-term Employment Visa): designed for those who plan to stay for 90 days
or less with the intention of profiting from lectures, research, the instruction of
new technology, commercials, fashion modeling, etc.
- Spousal Visa: designed for those married to a Korean and living in Korea. ESL
teachers are eligible to use this visa to teach English, providing the necessary
requirements are met.
- F4 (Visa for People of Korean Heritage): This visa can be secured for a stay of up
to two years and can be extended. This visa can be used for employment in almost all
sectors, excluding unskilled manual labor and speculation activities.
Important Visa Information
- E2 visa applicants should apply for a visa at a Korean embassy or consulate in
one's own country.
- Visas will only be granted if there is sufficient time remaining on the
applicant's passport after end of stay in Korea (six months).
- One should apply for a visa in person.
Standard Process for Obtaining Documentation to Work Legally in
1. Applicant secures a contract with a legitimate school.
2. The school applies to the Korean Immigration Office on applicant's behalf, and if
approved, receives a Visa Issuance Confirmation Number (VICN).
3. VICN number is given to the teacher to be used in applying for the visa.
4. Teacher takes VICN to closest embassy/consulate along with documents listed
Standard Required Documents for Visas
(It is important to check with the Korean embassy/consulate as variations in
requirements sometimes occur.)
- A valid passport with at least six months remaining after travel dates (This
should be confirmed with local embassy/consulate)
- Completed visa application
- Passport photos
- Original degree and a notarized copy
- Sealed university transcripts
- Employment contract
- Letter of personal reference
- Federal Criminal Background Check from police department in region of residence
(with attached FBI notarization/apostille for US residents). Those with minor
offences will be taken into consideration on a case-by-case basis, but typically any
criminal record check that does not come back clean will disqualify the applicant
for a Korean E2 work visa.
-Applicant's Health Statement (form available through Korean embassy/consulate). The
applicant is not required to obtain a physician's medical assessment, but rather
must complete a self-health statement to be submitted along with the visa
application. Within 90 days of arrival in Korea, he/she would be required to go
through medical testing at a designated hospital in order to maintain a valid
- All official documents notarized
- For Canadian Citizens:
All notarized documents must be confirmed at the
The United States of America Embassy and Consular Offices in Korea
Embassy of the United States, Seoul
188 Sejong-daero, Jongno-gu
Seoul 110-710, Republic of Korea
Phone: 82 2 397 4114
U.S. Consulate General, Busan
Room #612, Lotte Gold Rose Building
#150-3 Yangjung-dong, Busan jin-gu
Busan, Republic of Korea
Phone: 82 2 397 4114
Canadian Embassy and Consular Offices in Korea
Canadian Embassy, Seoul
21 Jeong-dong, Jung-gu
Seoul 100-120, 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
Canadian Consulate, Busan
c/o Dongsung Chemical Co. Ltd.
472 Shinpyeong-dong, Saha-gu
Busan 604-721, Republic of Korea
Phone: 82 5 1204 5581
Fax: 82 5 1204 5580
Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday : 09 :00 am-11 :30 am; 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Australian Embassy and Consular Offices in Korea
Australian Embassy, Seoul
19th floor, Kyobo Building
1 Jongno 1-ga, Jongno-gu
Seoul 110-714, Republic of Korea
Phone: 02 2003 0100
Fax: 82 2 2003 0196
Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday, 9:00 am to noon; 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm
Australian Consulate-General, Busan
Room 802 Samwhan Officetel
830-295 Bumil 2-dong, Dong-Ku
Busan 601-709, Republic of Korea
Phone: 82 51 647 1762
Fax: 82 5 1647 1764
Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday, 9:00 am to noon; 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm
British Embassy in Korea
British Embassy, Seoul
Sejong-daero 19-gil 24, Jung-gu
Seoul 100-120 , Republic of Korea
Phone: 82 2 3210 5500
Fax: 82 2 725 1738
Hours of Operation: Monday to Thursday, 9:00 am to 12:30 pm, 1:30 pm to 5:15 pm (closes at 5:00 pm on Fridays)
Irish Embassy in Korea
Irish Embassy, Seoul
13th Fl. Leema Bldg.
42, Jongro 1-gil, Jongno-gu
Seoul 110-755, Republic of Korea
Phone: 82 2 721 7200
Fax: 82 2 774 6458
Email: contact form on website below
Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday, 9:30 am to 12:30 pm; 1:30 pm to 5:00 pm
New Zealand's Embassy in Korea
New Zealand Embassy, Seou
Jeong Dong Building, 8th Floor
21-15 Jeong-dong gil, Jung-gu
Seoul 100-784 (West tower), Republic of Korea
Phone: 82 2 3701 7700
Fax: 82 2 3701 7701
Hours of Operation: Monday to Thursday, 9:00 am - 12:30pm and 1:30pm - 5:30 pm
Korean Embassy and Consular Offices in the US
Embassy of the Republic of Korea, Washington
2450 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
Washington, DC 20008
Phone: 1 202 939 5600
Fax: 1 202 797 0595
Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday, 9:00 am to noon; 1:30 pm to 5:30 pm
Korean Embassy and Consular Offices in Canada
Embassy of the Republic of Korea, Ottawa
150 Boteler Street
Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 5A6
Phone: 1 613 244 5010
Fax: 1 613 244 5034
Hours of Operation: Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to noon; 1:30 pm - 5:00 pm