TESOL South Korea: A Look at Hagwons, Public Schools, and English Villages

Teach English in South Korea - Hagwons, EPIK, English VillagesAre you ready to teach English in South Korea?! There are basically 3 kinds of teaching opportunities: hagwons (English academies), public schools (EPIK), and English villages. Each has advantages and disadvantages over the others, depending on your list of priorities.

Hagwons – TESOL Jobs South Korea

Hagwons are privately owned and seem to start up and shut down frequently, so they don’t tend to offer the same job security as a position at a public school with government funding. Don’t let this scare you away from applying for hagwons, but DO check into the company’s credibility a bit by looking at their website or requesting an e-mail address so you can correspond with other teachers at the school. Another major difference is that hagwons tend to hold somewhat strange hours since students will be coming after school from early afternoon to late evening, as well as Saturdays, so that is probably the time frame you will be working. If you are a late riser you may count this as a benefit over public schools which are pretty standard early morning to mid afternoon. Hagwons vary greatly in class size and the amount of support you will get from fellow staff members and with instructional materials. If these things concern you, be sure you have a firm understanding of the situation at the particular hagwon you are interviewing with before you sign anything.

English Villages – TESOL Jobs South Korea

English villages tend to be larger operations and therefore a bit more stable than hagwons. They are usually run somewhat like a summer camp (but year-round) with as much total English immersion as possible. This means you will have a high turnover rate of students, maybe changing weekly. These can have a more laid back and fun atmosphere, and since you will be doing the same thing weekly you’re likely to learn what you need to do pretty quickly, and your lesson planning will probably be minimal. However, since you will be doing the same thing weekly, this has the potential to become monotonous, so it’s up to you to keep it interesting.

EPIK – TESOL Jobs South Korea

At public schools you will probably keep the same students for at least a semester, and have a chance to really get to know them and build a rapport. These jobs are also pretty stable since the government backs them, and you will probably have at least one Korean teacher to help you out in the classroom or to collaborate with on lessons. However, you will most likely have to do a lot of lesson planning in this position (but don’t worry, you’ve got a TESOL certificate so you know what to do).

Whichever teaching job you decide is right for you, you can expect your accommodations to be provided, and expect them to be very small. Many jobs also provide a stipend for utilities on top of your monthly salary, and many will reimburse you for the cost of your plane ticket to Korea. It’s completely possible to get hired from abroad. Expect phone interviews (possibly with people who speak less than perfect English). It is also common that applicants are required to send a photo, a criminal background check, official transcripts, and an original copy of your diploma or other credentials. Use your best judgment on this one- maybe make a copy of important documents to keep until you get the originals back. Many people go through recruiters if looking for a job from outside Korea to help bridge the culture/language gap. And don’t worry, the school pays the recruitment fee, you don’t. If you’re already in Korea when you apply for jobs you’ll need to leave the country to get your visa sorted out, and most schools will pay for you to go to Japan for a weekend to do that.

Related Articles:

EPIK Orientation and Cultural Tips

Co-Teaching in South Korea

Teaching Large Classes in South Korea

Cultural Adaptation: TESOL Certificate Graduate in Korea