Teaching in Korea

Teaching in Korea should be an enjoyable experience. The location and credibility of the school obviously plays an important role, although, the age of the students you teach, type of school you work at, and job responsibilities are also key factors which will determine whether or not you have a positive encounter with South Korea.

Teaching in Korea Realities

The lion’s share of teaching opportunities in South Korea involve working with children between the kindergarten and middle school age levels. There are two teaching sectors which most people can choose from: private sector jobs and public sector jobs. Other teaching opportunities in Korea (College Instructors, University Professors, International Schools, Business English Instructors, Factory and Corporate English Programs, TOEFL Instructors, etc.) also exist but these positions are VERY limited and generally require applicants to have very specific qualifications. In short, these other types of jobs are limited, highly competitive and hard to secure.

The fact is, the very large majority of westerners teaching in Korea work with children between the ages of 5-15. This is where the high demand for English instructors resides and where the bulk of credible opportunities are found. Why? Because most Korean children study English on a daily basis but only a small fraction of the adults do. As a result, there are literally 50 jobs available at the children & early teens level for every adult teaching opportunity. 

Working with high school aged students is also uncommon. Unfortunately the education offices no longer hire western teachers for the public high schools and parents generally take their children out of the private English education system (hagwons) once they finish middle school; so they study harder in order to get accepted into the better colleges and universities.

To make yourself more competitive with hiring schools and public school programs, Gone2Korea recommends enrolling in a TEFL Certification Course. Make sure to choose a 100 plus hour program because anything less will not be accepted as a credential in the ROK. Successfully completing one of these courses does not guarantee you employment, however, it can help you land more interviews!

What to Expect During a Typical Day of Work

  • Head to the school (usually within walking distance)
  • Arrive at school and spend some time talking with your co-teachers.
  • Review the syllabus you’ve been assigned to determine what curriculum you’ll be introducing to the different classes that day.
  • Start preparing your lesson plans for the classes you’ll be teaching.
  • Talk to some of the kids that come running through the teachers office while you’re trying to prepare.
  • Make photocopies, prepare your flash cards, organize your books, etc.
  • Head to your first class of the day.
  • Say hello to your students and ask them to settle down and take their seats.
  • Check off the student attendance form.
  • Crack a few jokes or do something funny to get the students ready to begin.
  • Ask the students to take out their textbooks and turn to the appropriate page.
  • Begin teaching the pages and topic that is outlined in your syllabus.
  • Do your best to keep all of the students interested in the lesson you’re delivering (an outgoing personality is the best weapon for a Korean classroom).
  • If you finish implementing the lesson before the class ends then it’s time to use your arsenal of English games and activities!
  • Assign homework if needed (homework can be anything related to the lesson/topic you completed).
  • Ask your students to pack up their books, pens, pencils and erasers.
  • Once the bell goes you’re free to let your students leave for the day.
  • Head back to the teachers office.
  • Return the books and materials you used to the appropriate places in the office.
  • Take a short 5 – 15 minute break.
  • Make sure you have everything needed for your second class of the day.
  • Head to your second class and start all over again!

Once you’ve completed the last class of the day you’ll likely be expected to stay at the school for a brief period to organize the teacher’s office.  During this time you will help the other teachers clean the desks, organize the teacher work space, make sure all the textbooks are properly organized, etc.  Once this is done you’re free to head home and begin doing whatever it is you do during your free time. Note: Some private schools require their western staff to conduct student phone calls at the end of the day (i.e. phone teaching).

School and Employer Expectations

As an English teacher in Korea your primary objective will be to stimulate English conversation with your students. Believe it not, the Korean teachers at your school will likely be responsible for teaching grammar and reading. Your job – for the most part – will revolve around pronunciation and conversation. Many of the textbooks you’ll be using are comprised of pictures and limited text designed to encourage students to participate in discussion based exercises. You’ll also spend a lot of time getting your students to engage in group activities.

As easy as this may sound, it’s important to remember that most students will have limited English speaking skills, therefore, communicating with them can be challenging. In the end, the more creative you are with your lessons the more English your students will learn. You’ll probably have more fun in the process as well!

Class Preparation

School directors and principals require their western staff to complete no less than 60 minutes of class preparation time each day. Just like schools and teaching jobs in the West, class-prep is an important, and mandatory, part of the job in Korea. Proper lesson planning is essentially your blueprint for implementing the curriculum and maximizing your student’s time spent in the classroom. Let’s be honest, if you’re not prepared for your classes, and you’re wasting valuable time scrambling for topics and materials to teach, then you’re not doing your job. More importantly, unprepared teachers means the students won’t be reaching their full potential.

Curriculum and Resources

All schools have a structured curriculum to follow. You’re responsibility is to deliver the curriculum to your classes via the respective textbooks and workbooks. Most schools also provide an array of English games, books, flashcards, crayons, coloring sheets, props, and so on, to help you and your students succeed. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the available resources during your first week of work, it will help ease the transition into your new role as a teacher.

Thanks for checking us out, we’re glad you’re here!

Gone2Korea is your connection to full-time teaching jobs in South Korea. Western graduates, primarily from the US, Canada, UK, and Australia, use our services to secure jobs with trusted Korean schools, and schools use our services to find and hire enthusiastic teachers from the West.

Worth noting: We’re not a job ‘sourcing’ agency or recruiter that finds new schools on the fly. On the contrary, we work with a select group of schools and programs that we know and trust. 

In addition to helping you land a job, we’ll also be helping you with your work visa, departure, arrival, and offering support for the entirety of your contracted term.

Prior teaching experience and related degrees are NOT prerequisites for teaching in Korea. Here’s what you’ll need in order to qualify.

Korean schools and programs offer western English teachers highly competitive benefits packages which includes: