Recent years’ global events have had multiple effects on people across all sections of society, as you would expect. What not many people might have foreseen, however, was the significant shift in people’s values that brought about profound changes to the employment sector.
In a world where 1 every 5 employees are ready to change careers, it is important to understand what they are looking for and what they’re hoping to find in their new professional paths. If you too have rediscovered the importance of work-life balance, interpersonal relationships, and time for self-care, you might be ready to jump on ‘the great resignation’ bandwagon.
Many have also rekindled their hobbies and interests, where travelling often ranks in the top three. After all, exploring foreign countries, connecting with different cultures, and experiencing unfamiliar situations makes people feel alive and gives them a sense of sheer accomplishment. Didn’t someone say that “the world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”? Travelling for an extensive period of time, however, is an expensive hobby.
Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) is a flexible career path that allows you to travel the world while earning to support your new life abroad. Those looking to start afresh might prefer the charm of a destination that is off the beaten track yet popular enough to give a sense of security with well established expat communities. If that’s what you had in mind, look no further: South Korea could just be your thing.
About South Korea
South Korea is an incredibly fascinating country steeped in mystery and charm. Located in South-East Asia, South Korea is a mountainous country which also includes two extinct volcanoes. The climate in this country can be extreme, from -5 degrees Celsius in January to 25 degrees Celsius in August, which is also the wettest month.
With its quaint coastal fishing villages, South Korea appears to be a very traditional country; however, large and ever-growing urban areas say otherwise. Seoul, the capital, is a modern and industrialised city, home to almost 10 million inhabitants. From top to bottom, there’s lots to see in this country: from visiting temples, and museums to relaxing at the beach; from exploring Seoraksan National Park to shopping in Myeongdong in Seoul. What has probably made South Korea famous worldwide is its healthy and delicious food: who hasn’t heard of kimchi (fermented vegetables) and bibimbap (mixed rice), nowadays?
South Korea is often overlooked among new TEFL teachers, but this is a great country to live and work in. If you do some teaching English in South Korea, salary will exceed your expectations. This country offers some of the highest teaching salaries in the world, somewhere between $1,350 and $3,100 depending on your employer. You can get involved in TEFL teaching in South Korea either with an online set-up or in a classroom-based environment.
Classroom teaching in South Korea
If you feel that face-to-face teaching is what you prefer, you have different options as a TEFL teacher.
You could teach in public schools, where a limited number of placements are allocated by the South Korean government specially for international English teachers. They are usually hired through programmes organised by the government, such as SMOE (Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education), if you want to be based in Seoul, GEPIK (Gyeonggi English Program in Korea), and EPIK (English Program In Korea), the most popular one.
Alternatively, you could work at usually private primary or secondary international schools. There, lessons are taught in English and teachers follow a western curriculum. The competition to find a teaching job in these schools is harsh, but the salaries are considerably higher than in the public sector.
Private academies, or hagwons, provide English language courses to students of all ages. They recruit all year around and salaries vary depending on location, but they are usually competitive. With a flexible teaching schedule, this option is quite popular among new TEFL teachers.
Teaching at university is also a very tempting option, with four months holiday a year, competitive rates of pay, keen and dedicated students, and 400 universities across the country to choose from. As these posts are highly sought-after, this environment is extremely competitive.
Online teaching in South Korea
Another way to connect with South Korean culture without moving abroad is to teach English online, from the comfort of your home office. Many teachers firmly believe that South Korean students are among the best students you could possibly teach. They are responsible and conscientious, hardworking and disciplined. They clearly understand the importance of becoming fluent in the English language to be successful in the international world of work, and they are keen to learn.
Among the many established online language schools for the South Korean market, such as Skybel, Classo, Carrot Global, Bok Tutors, and GMNY, a few stand out:
- Ringle is an interesting option as it doesn’t require teachers to commit to a minimum number of teaching hours and it offers a very flexible schedule. For each lesson, you should allocate an hour’s work: 40 minutes for the actual lesson, 10 minutes for prep before, and 10 minutes for feedback after the lesson. They don’t have specific requirements for their teachers, who get paid between $15-$20 per hour.
- Started off in South Korea, Englishunt is now expanding to Japan and China, also evolving into an educational publisher. Working with this platform means teaching all ages at an hourly rate of $14.
- Like with Ringle, Tutoring allows teachers to have a flexible schedule offering adults and children one-to-one lessons at an hourly rate of between $10-$14. To be considered for a job with them, you should hold at least a bachelor’s degree – or be currently studying towards it, have prior teaching experience, and guarantee a minimum of one teaching hour a week.
- If you don’t fancy teaching young learners, you could join Global LT English to teach business professionals. Bear in mind that you need to hold a bachelor’s degree and at least two years of teaching experience to work with this online school. They calculate your pay based on your experience and qualifications.
In short – why South Korea?
This is a beautiful country that offers spectacular views and landscapes, a fascinating culture and exciting cuisine. It also has plenty of opportunities for TEFL teachers with competitive salaries and appealing working conditions, either in the classroom or online.