Requirements for Private Language Academy

Category : Education/Teaching / Career/Business / Visa/Legal Issues/Tax
Mar 24, 2015

Requirements for Private Language Academy Jobs in Korea


Hagwon (private language academy) jobs are the primary types of ESL teaching jobs in Korea. These jobs vary from school to school. There are kindergarten, elementary, middle school and adult hagwons. Kindergartens run in the morning and early afternoons, while middle and high school hagwons run from the afternoons to well into the evening. Adult hagwons usually hold classes in the mornings and then again at night when students are not working.


Hagwons are a great place to start your ESL teaching career. Other kinds of jobs are competitive and require more qualifications, while hagwons are fairly easy to get. Hagwons are also located all over Korea. You can have your choice of location, including busy metropolitan areas like Seoul. Pay at hagwons generally starts a bit higher than in the public school board, and can range between schools greatly. Entry-level pay for hagwon jobs is around 2.1 million KRW to 2.4 million KRW per month. It is not common to find a job less than 2.1 million KRW and yet it is possible to find jobs more than 2.4 million KRW.


The downside to hagwon jobs is that they can be unstable because they are owned and operated by individuals, not the government. There is a small risk that hagwons can go bankrupt leaving teachers without work and pay. While it’s true that some hagwons have a bad reputation, they can also be wonderful experiences.


The best way to ensure that you land a good job is to do your research. Talk to the director and the other teachers. Clarify all questions you have and read the contract thoroughly before signing it. If you proceed with some caution and lots of awareness you won’t have any problems!


à Read up

  1. An Introduction to ESL Jobs in Korea
  2. The E-2 Visa for Foreign Language Teachers in Korea


Hagwon ESL Teacher Base Requirements


  1. You must be a native speaker: You must be a native English speaker to teach at any hagwon across Korea. There are seven official English speaking countries: Canada, USA, UK, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, or Ireland. You must hold a passport from one of these countries.


  1. You must hold a degree: In addition to being a native speaker, you need to have a bachelor’s degree (a three or four-year university, not college degree) from an accredited institution to teach at hagwons. The school of hard knocks doesn’t count. You must have received the degree from a school in an English speaking country. Most schools are recognized so don’t worry too much if you didn’t go to Harvard or Oxford. Finally, your degree can be in any subject. You don’t have to be an English major to teach English. You also don’t need an education degree or teaching certificate. Once you’ve graduated with your bachelor’s, start job searching!


Application Procedure


  1. Apply via email to a recruiter after finding a job online, like WorknPlay’s recruiting page. In some cases, you may work directly with the school, but that is unlikely. Hagwons usually use recruiters to find native teachers.
  2. If contacted, you will have a phone interview with your recruiter.
  3. After that, the recruiter will ask you to send hard copies of all the required documents (as listed below). It is this part of the application that is the complicated part and can take time.
  4. If you are offered that job, you will then need to apply for an E-2 ESL teaching visa. Please read the procedure for that in the article, The E-2 Visa for Foreign Language Teachers in Korea.


Documents Required for Hagwons Jobs

Each hagwon application is slightly different, but most jobs just want to see some basic documents. Send these things to your recruiter via email:

  • Your resume
  • A cover letter, which should include your:
    • nationality
    • date of birth
    • available start date
    • preferred location in Korea
    • ESL experience
    • contact information
    • job preferences
  • A photo


Hard Copies of Documents Required for Hagwon E-2 Visa Application


Send all of the documents listed below to your recruiter once you have accepted the job and sign the contract (in ink). Although these documents are not needed to secure a job at a hagwon, they are needed to apply for your working E-2 (ESL teacher) visa. These documents are specific and it is important to take care in preparing them. If you make a mistake you must do them again. As well, it can take time to gather this paper work, so start preparing early. It is advised to begin even before you have a job secured because they are needed for every job. The whole process goes much faster if you have these things ready to send to Korea. That just means you’ll be living comfortably in your new house in a new country that much sooner!


à Notes

  1. Make sure that your name appears exactly the same on all your documents. Write your full name out including your middle name. Do not use a middle initial. Korean authorities can be very particular about the spelling of applicants’ names, so don’t make a tiny error that could cost your job and experience.
  2. Documents required by GEPIK (the Gyeonggi-Do English Program in Korea), EPIK (the English Program in Korea) and hagwons (Language academies) are all different. See the following articles for those details:
    • Requirements for GEPIK Jobs in Korea
  • Requirements for EPIK Jobs in Korea
  • The E-2 Visa for Foreign Language Teachers in Korea
  1. Your employer may also want copies of these documents with an apostille or notarization if applicable. It is advised to get two copies of all your documents so that you may give one to your employer and one to immigration. Also, your potential employer won’t give your documents back, especially if you will be working for EPIK or GEPIK. If you decide not to take the job, you’ll need to do all the paper work again. Another reason to get at least one extra copy done at the start!


The Documents


Employment contract signed by you and the employer

It must be signed by you and your employer. They will fax or email it to you; you must print it out, sign it and send it back with all the rest of the documents.


Self Health Check

This is a basic health check answered by you. It is done to ensure that you are mentally and physically fit to be a teacher. It is recommended that you have it completed by a doctor, although it is not essential. Once you arrive in Korea, you must visit a Korean hospital to have a medical done in country. If discrepancies are found between the self health check and the Korean doctor’s examination, you risk losing your visa. In other words, don’t lie!


Degree Certificate

A copy of your degree must be notarized and apostille-authenticated by your local notary authority. Send that copy to Korea, not your original. Bring the original with you to Korea and to the Korean embassy/consulate, just in case your school or the authorities want to double check it’s real.


à Note: If you’re Canadian, you need to get your degree notarized by the Korean consulate, as well as the Canadian notary authority. Most countries signed an apostille agreement with Korea so that their home apostille is recognized, but Canada did not. It applies to Chinese applicants as well.


Criminal Records Check

This part of the process gets complicated. You must have a recent criminal record check completed within the last six months. It must be done at the national level for your country. It then must be must be notarized and/or apostille-authenticated by your local notary authority. You need to send the original to Korea to receive your visa issuance number and you need one copy to give to the Korean embassy/consulate in your home country. Since it’s such a hassle to get, it’s advised to make a few copies of it or if possible, get an extra check done at the same time.


à Tip: It usually takes a while to process criminal records checks. You can visit your police department before you even have a job in Korea as the check is accepted by Korean authorities up to six months after the issue date.


Your Resume or Job Application Form

Some jobs request you send a resume while other jobs have a standardized resume-like a form to fill out. In any case, you should have already sent these through when you first applied for the job. However, Korean Immigration usually likes to see it too.


Passport Copy

Include a color passport copy of the first page of your passport. Make sure your name and information are fully visible and that your passport is valid.


Four Color Passport Photos

They should follow the correct passport format. That means no smiling and ears must be showing. It should be taken above the shoulders and straight on.


Information on Criminal Background Checks


  1. Australia: You need a “National Police Clearance Certificate” from the Australian Federal Police in Canberra. Get it certified with an apostille.
  2. Canada: Get a “Certified Criminal Background Report” with a Vulnerable Sector Search issued from your local police department or the RCMP and then notarized from a Canadian notary authority. Canadians must submit their report to the Korean consulate to be notarized once more.
  3. Ireland: Obtain a “Police Certificate of Character” from the local or federal police in your region. Be sure the police include a ‘Vulnerable Sector Search’ or a ‘Sex-offender Registry Search’. It must first be notarized by a notary public and then authenticated with an apostille.
  4. New Zealand: You can’t get a criminal record check in NZ, so request a copy of your ‘conviction records’ at your local police department instead. You will need to then get it certified with an apostille. It takes 20 days for get your records, so start early.
  5. South Africa: You’ll need a “Criminal Background Report” from the SA Police Services in Pretoria. If you’re not from around there, start the process early to get it on time. You’ll also need to get it authenticated with an apostille.
  6. The UK: You will need a “Subject Access (Basic Disclosure) Certificate” if you are from the UK. Get it from your local police authority. Request it in advance as it takes about a month and get it notarized after.
  7. The USA: You need a “Criminal Background Check (National Clearance)” done by the FBI. It can take a while if you have to send away for it. It must first be notarized by a notary public and then authenticated with an apostille.
Tags : Education. Teaching.

Lindsey lived and worked in Seoul, South Korea for over 5 years. While there, she dabbled in different areas of work and explored the culture. She spent time teaching elementary students, business English to adults and high school students about college preparation. She also studied Korean, wrote blogs and tasted as many foods as she possibly could including fermented skate fish. Over the years, Lindsey developed a love for Korea and the culture. She is keen to share her knowledge of Korea with others and she will always consider Korea a second home.

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