Teaching English in South Korea:
I’ve known for quite some time that I wanted to teach English in South Korea. I have researched multiple countries and their ESL programs. South Korea, by far, has some of the best opportunities for novice ESL instructors. Most, if not all packages, include but are not limited to: free roundtrip airfare from your home country, free housing, pension matches (depending on which country you are from), severance pay, paid overtime, resigning bonuses, all-inclusive orientations, cheap and delicious lunches every day at the school, 18 days paid vacation, and cheap healthcare!!!
One also has to take into account that the country is BOOMING! There are so many things to do and see. Some would argue that Korea has some of the best shopping. This tiny country is home to twelve UNESCO World Heritage sites! Twelve! I can’t forget to mention the cheap, delicious, mouth-watering, spicy food! The pros of living and working here are truly endless. EPIK is not the only program you can teach through, but it’s the one I am going to talk about in this post.
Disclaimer: Please understand that any advice I give you on this blog should be taken with a grain of salt. I am telling you what worked for me. Your circumstances may be different so use your judgement. Take what’s relevant to you and leave the rest. Don’t worry, I won’t be offended.
My EPIK process: Steps 1-21 of how I began teaching English in South Korea
When I was getting ready to apply to teach English in South Korea through the EPIK program, I had already reviewed the application, and was well aware of the documents I needed to obtain. I knew which documents were time sensitive, which documents needed to be authenticated, and which documents were needed at the beginning of the application process. So, I began making a folder. Keep in mind, I began doing this before I contacted a recruiter. To make this easy to review, I will number the steps I took.
- I ordered 10 copies of my sealed official transcripts from my university. (There is a limit of 5 per day-free of charge so I ordered back to back)
- I had lost my original diploma so I had to order another one which cost me about $25 + expedited shipping to Hawaii (where I was working on a cruise ship at the time).
- Had I been in the state at the time I could have just picked them up, but I was in Hawaii so I had to pay for expedited shipping. Once I received these documents in the mail I put them in the folder.
- I then placed an order for my Federal Criminal Record Check using a FBI approved channeler that would expedite the process. If you do not use an FBI approved channeler, it takes anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks-sometimes longer. This process took about a week. It also cost me around $100 for everything.
- Once I received the CRC in the mail, I put it in the folder along with my transcripts and diploma.
- During this time I was enrolled in a 140-hour advanced TESOL certification course through ITTO Online. I was in the process of completing this course as I was gathering my documents.
- By this time, I had already requested letters of recommendation from my manager and one of my mentors. I gave them the guidelines and double-checked to be sure they included everything. I also made sure that they signed, dated, and provided their contact information.
- The CRC and Diploma both needed to be notarized and apostilled so I used a FBI approved channeler again for this process. By getting both documents authenticated together I saved money on postage and was able to take advantage of a deal from the company I used. This process took a little less than two weeks. ***It is important to note that I did not cut corners when it came to shipping! I used reputable delivery services, I paid extra for tracking numbers, and I paid extra for expedited service*** It got really expensive, but in my opinion it was worth it. Many people who apply do not take this route, as it can get very expensive.
- Once I had all of these documents back in my possession I felt ready to contact Alistair Wery. He is a recruiter with Korean Horizons, an agency stationed in Korea. He was my lifeline throughout the entire process. Keep in mind that I was still enrolled in my TESOL course by the time I had contacted him. That was the one thing I had not completed.
- We discussed the application process, South Korea, the benefits package, my “why”, and the location I desired. (I told him I was willing to go anywhere, but Seoul)
- After our initial chat, I completed the application, the personal statement (which I had already written because I knew the prompt ahead of time), and the lesson plan which was slightly difficult seeing as though I had not yet reached that point in my course. I sent the application back to him within two days.
- Then I began scanning all of my documents onto a USB. I scanned a copy of my transcripts (I had two, one from each school), my diploma, my CRC, my letters of recommendation, my passport, my passport size photo, two business professional photos, and a proof of enrollment letter from the company I was getting my certificate through.
- This would have been a good time to get my 10 passport size photos, but I had already had them from a long time ago so I just used those instead.
- He then prepared me for the interview after my application had been accepted. I was told me to smile, show the interviewer who I am, and be genuine. He was impressed with how muchI knew about Korea. I took that as a sign that a questions about the culture might come up during the interview.
- My interview was scheduled on a Wednesday. Fortunately, it went really well, the conversation was organic, and I soon realized that I had overreacted. The notice that I had been offered a position came in that Friday! So less than two days if you take the time difference into consideration.
- Then Alistair requested that I send him all of the hard copies of the documents I had collected. I sent them all in one package using UPS as my carrier, and he received them in about 3 days. He submitted the paperwork on my behalf, and all I was left to do was complete my TESOL certification and submit the pdf file of my certificate upon completion.
- A few weeks later, I received my official contract in the mail!
- I went through every page of the contract, and signed it.
- In an effort to stay organized, I gathered all the documents I needed for the visa application process, and had them ready to go.
- I went to the Korean consulate in Atlanta, GA on a Monday morning. It took me less than 10 minutes to drop off the paperwork and my passport. They told to return that Thursday (this was FAST, and I think she was just doing me a favor).
- I picked up my visa and passport that Thursday, and began packing and mentally preparing for my first teaching job in South Korea!
The process was quite painless for me. I had done so much research by the time I applied, that I knew exactly what to expect. It was the best decision I could have ever made.
Do you have any questions about the application process to teach in South Korea? If so, please leave a comment below, and I’ll be sure to get back to you.
Do you know anyone who is considering teaching English in Korea through the EPIK program? share this post with them. I’m sure they would appreciate this information.