For many, the dream of becoming an English teacher in Korea begins far before it can become a reality. Once that reality comes true, it tends to be even more exciting and eye-opening than you would ever expect.
All of the research in the world simply does not compare to when you are actually living and teaching in Korea. It’s an experience that is truly life changing, but one that is different for each and every English teacher in Korea.
Watch below as Ana talks about her experience teaching in Korea. You can then read more below about the following topics Ana speaks about:
- Finding a Teaching Job in Korea
- Teaching English in Korea Programs
- Traveling Around Korea on Weekends
- A Typical Day Teaching English in Korea
- Why You Shouldn’t Worry About North Korea
Finding a Teaching Job in Korea
As Ana explains, the process of finding a teaching job in Korea can be done very quickly. This really depends on the teacher and how they prepare things on their end but also depends on which documents the teacher already has in their possession and which they are waiting on.
As an example, if you are looking to teach in Korea in August, but you will only receive the hard copy of your diploma in late July, you will have to look into positions in September or later.
However, if you have the main documents in hand (diploma, criminal background check, etc.), then the overall process to apply, be interviewed by your chosen recruiting agency, and then start the interviewing process with schools can happen within about a week or so.
Once you are then offered a job, the entire visa process usually takes about a month and a half to complete from that point.
Teaching English in Korea Programs
There are many programs out there that will find you a teaching post in Korea. With so many options, it is really hard to choose the ‘right one’ but there certainly are some recruiters that you should be wary of, so make sure to do your research!
Here are some red flags to watch out for when doing your research on the best recruiting agencies:
Charging fees to place you in Korea:
All recruiting agencies receive a commission from the school where the teacher is placed. The services some companies charge for are the exact same ones that Travel and Teach provides for free. If you are asked to pay a fee, find another agency!
Agencies with few or no online reviews
There are so many cases where an English teacher and a Korean co-teacher team up together to start a recruiting ‘company’. They will lead you in the right direction to collect your documents and will walk you through the visa process, and they may even be able to find you a teaching position in Korea.
However, if the stuff were to hit the fan, the teacher will be the one to get the short end of the stick. The newer and smaller recruiting agencies will work with just about any school…and that puts the teacher at risk.
So do your research and make sure you can find some good reviews about the company you choose to find your job through.
Traveling Around Korea on Weekends
One of the things that people find really great about Korea is the amount of traveling you will do on the weekends while you’re teaching there. The public transportation in Korea is among the best in the world which allows you to hop on a bus or train and be in another city within an hour or two.
As Ana points out, you can go from a bustling city like Seoul and experience markets, restaurants or just walk the streets with thousands of other people. You can then go to a city like Gwangju where it feels like you have entered a completely new world! Gwangju is pretty much the opposite of ‘modern city’ that is Seoul, being one of the historic cities in Korea.
A Typical Day Teaching English in Korea
There are many comparisons to teaching English in Korea to a standard teaching job back home in the U.S or in Canada. There are also many, many differences.
One of those differences is the almost ‘stardom’ that English teachers have in Korea. When you walk into your school, you will instantly be greeted by your students and other students at your school who will yell out, “Hello, teacher! How are you? I’m fine, thank you!”.
Korean students are absolutely enamored with westerners and having one as a teacher seems to always be a special treat to them.
Typical Teaching Hours in a Korean School
As Ana talks about in the video above, she usually arrives at her school around 9:30 am and starts teaching at 10 am. She then has classes that lead her to her lunch hour. From there, she teaches until 5:30 pm and then finishes her day by prepping for the following day, which takes about an hour.
One of the main things that is different from being a teacher in the U.S or in Canada compared to Korea is that teachers there do not have to take their work home with them.
It is very common for teachers in Western countries to have to grade tests or prepare curriculum for the next day, but life as an English teacher in Korea is much easier than that. The curriculum is already prepared for you, so you essentially only have to create a lesson plan for your upcoming classes around this. This usually takes around 1 hour to accomplish and is always done at the school.
How Teachers Spend their Free Time Outside of School
As Ana says in the video, once she leaves the school, she is then free to do whatever she wants. This is yet another perk about teaching in Korea – you have so much free time!! Many teachers in Korea will join groups or clubs that range from sports to billiards to learning Korean.
With so much free time, some teachers get themselves into trouble by having a bit too much fun partying, so it is a good idea to keep yourself busy with other activities. Going out to dinner and having a few drinks is fine, but it shouldn’t become a daily habit.
Our advice is to join other teachers and be active. Go to the gym, take yoga classes or earn your black belt in Taekwondo!
Why You Shouldn’t Worry about North Korea
When Mr. Trump became president of the United States, he took a hard stance on North Korea. This is something George W Bush did years back. Both presidents pushed but came up with the same result, where essentially nothing was changed.
During these times where the world was led to believe a nuclear war was about to happen, South Koreans simply went about their day and didn’t really give it a second thought. Why? Because the type of harsh talk that went on with the North Koreans wasn’t anything new – and more specifically – wasn’t anything that would be followed up with any sort of action.
Koreans are known to be hot-tempered and say things in the heat of the moment that they may not mean, so when the North is pushed, they of course will react in a heated manner. They just won’t necessarily follow through with their threats. South Koreans know this, as do teachers in Korea. So, as Ana states: there is nothing to worry about!