|Korea's goal to teach its people to speak fluent English has created a high demand for native speaker English teachers. There are many teaching opportunities throughout Korea, including in bustling big cities, peaceful small towns and sunny tropical islands surrounding the mainland. Competitive pay with a relatively low cost of living makes teaching English in Korea ideal for traveling, saving money and exploring the rich culture of this country.|
| Public Schools
Federal, municipal, and certain provincial governments have begun hiring more native English teachers to teach English in public schools in Korea. The Korean government sponsors the English Program in Korea (EPIK) program in an effort to recruit native English speakers to teach at public schools throughout Korea.
Base salary ranges between 1.8 and 2.3 million won per month. There is a set pay scale for these programs; however, rates may differ depending on the government body sponsoring the program. Rural allowances may be added for certain areas and range between 100,000 and 200,000 won per month. Housing and basic furniture are always provided.
A candidate with a master's degree and those with more than 2 years of teaching experience will be compensated at the higher end of the pay scale (LEVEL 1), while teachers with a non-education related bachelor's degree would be at the lower end (LEVEL 3).
The Korean government has made the decision to hire more native English teachers for the public school system, with the goal of having one foreign teacher at each school in the near future.
Private Language Schools (Hagwons or Hakwons)
Private language schools (hagwons) can be found throughout Korea, especially since the boom in learning English as a second language at the turn of the 21st century. Most private language schools are located in Korea's metropolitan areas. Some are quite popular and have many branches or are part of a franchise. Other language schools can be small, but still offer a high quality of English education.
As the ESL market in Korea is extremely competitive, it is quite common for institutes not to succeed if they don't meet the expectations of their students, and more importantly, their parents.
Private language schools usually employ American, British, Canadian, New Zealander, Australian, Irish and South African expatriates to teach English conversation classes. Most of these companies provide housing for their instructors. Full-time teachers are expected to teach between 30 and 40 hours per week.
Most hagwons conduct classes from the morning to early evening for kindergarten students, while students between the ages of 7 and 18 are taught in the afternoon to late evening. Adult classes, which usually include university students and business professionals who want to improve their English, are conducted very early in the morning until late in the evening. Classes are small and accommodate between 10 and 15 students.
The average monthly salary of an English teacher at a private language school is presently between 2.0 to 2.3 million won a month. All institutes are required by Korean law to provide health insurance to English teachers during their period of employment. Severance pay upon completion of a one-year contract should also be paid by the employer. Some institutes, however, fail to honor these provisions.
Many English Villages have been created in Korea so that students can experience foreign-country life without leaving Korea. English Villages are built to offer similar experiences, environments, services and facilities as students would experience in an English-speaking country. There are English Villages in areas like Jeju, Paju, Ansan, Suyu (Seoul), Seongnam, and Gangwon. English Villages need creative, artistic and enthusiastic people to meet new batches of students every day or week, depending on their programs. Most English Villages hire many native English teachers to work in different fields, and offer on-site accommodations, about 30 hours of teaching per week and a salary range from 2.0 to 2.6 million won.
University Foreign Language Institutes
Most universities in metropolitan cities, as well as some universities in other provinces, operate language institutes. Many of the students studying at these institutes are university-enrolled or are working students. English courses offered by these foreign language institutes run throughout the university's breaks.
The hiring standards of these institutes are the highest in Korea. Most instructors employed have master's degrees in Linguistics or TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and have substantial teaching experience. The pay, status, and benefits offered by these institutes also are among the best in the country. There are many advantages to working at provincial universities, such as a larger house, better working conditions, higher salary, and the increased inclusion of the foreign instructor as part of the faculty.
Universities in Korea employ full-time English conversation instructors for general education subjects as well as English language departments. University classes tend to be larger, sometimes accommodating more than 100 students, so there is less personal contact with students. Most instructors at universities teach between 10 and 15 hours a week. English language standards at Korean universities differ depending on the university and students. More often than not, teachers will be expected to teach classes ranging from beginner to advanced levels, as well as conduct TOEFL or TOEIC classes. Many universities in Seoul do not provide housing for their teachers. Benefits provided by each university vary. Monthly salaries presently average between 2.2 and 2.5 million won, with three to four months paid vacation a year.
Corporate In-House Language Programs
Larger corporations often have their own in-house language programs for the benefit of their employees. An English instructor is often expected to teach more than 30 hours per week, and may work irregular hours ranging from early mornings to late evenings, as required. Most of the programs offered in-house are intensive residential programs usually required to be taken by the company's staff and employees, and range from three to six months.
Some in-house programs provide English instructors with full benefits but would require them to live on-site or be given a housing allowance. Average monthly salary for instructors in such programs currently ranges from 2.0 to 2.5 million won.
| Public Relations, Advertising, Publishing Companies
There are several public relations and advertising companies in Korea that hire foreigners to work as copy editors and occasionally as announcers for their English radio programs or television shows. These positions are difficult to obtain as they are quite popular with the resident English-teaching community and would require someone who has prior experience in these fields. There are also opportunities to appear on television and radio programs, commercials, dramas and movies. Most of these companies pay quite well, but may not offer full benefit packages, including airfare, housing, national pension, etc.
Government/Private Research Institutes
Many government agencies and private companies operate research institutes. Most of the institutes hire foreigners with degrees related to humanities, economics, linguistics and business administration to work as full-time researchers or editors. Editors proofread correspondences and research publications, write speeches, and occasionally teach as well. Most of the institutes pay quite well, while some offer additional benefits, depending on the institute. Because most research institutes are government-run, or closely associated with powerful corporate groups, instructors who work with them are usually sponsored with a different type of work visa.
|The Korean working culture is different from that of Western societies. It is important to treat those who are in a higher position than you with the utmost respect. Obedience is key. This is in contrast to the rather democratic work culture of the Western world, where individuality and challenging the status-quo are tolerated and even sometimes encouraged. In Korean culture, it is those who are at the top who have the first and the last say.
Working environments in Korea are often more formal, and it's important to dress appropriately. Businesspeople often wear dark-colored suits, even in warm weather. Teachers will often dress more casually, but it's important to note that fashion in Korea can be quite conservative. Male teachers often feel more comfortable wearing collared shirts and long pants while teaching, while females should not wear low-cut tops and often won't wear shirts without sleeves to school.
When you go to work, arrive a little earlier than the starting time and prepare for the day with your colleagues. To greet someone, say "Annyeonghaseyo?" (How are you?), which is the most common. After the day's work is over, say, "Sugohasyeo sumnida" (It was great work).
Often you will have hoe-sik (dining out together) with your co-workers, sometimes including your boss. It is a typical example of the Korean way of life. Koreans escape from the stresses of work through these social encounters, and can also resolve uncomfortable feelings with their colleagues by dining together. These occasions provide a good opportunity to make friends with Korean co-workers; therefore it is beneficial to attend them. Hoe-siks may not always be pleasant, though, as some colleagues will encourage each other to drink a lot, even if they cannot drink. Sometimes people can get very drunk, and say and do things they wouldn't normally. If something uncomfortable or unpleasant happens during these occasions, it is appropriate to talk to your colleagues frankly and solve the problem.