Teaching English in Korea as a First-Time Teacher or Recent Graduate
South Korea’s been a top English teaching destination since the late 1990’s. Every semester, Korean schools hire thousands of new foreign teachers primarily from the US, Canada and UK, many of whom have never taught before and graduated with degrees in unrelated fields.
Why is Korea an ideal place to work as a first time teacher?
- Safe working environments
- Modern school facilities
- Good benefits which include airfare & housing
- Competitive salaries
- Severance package at end of contract period
- Low cost of living
- Large expat communities
- A streamlined visa process
- Many jobs in a wide range of locations
- A society that’s friendly and welcoming towards westerners
What are schools looking for in candidates?
Having prior teaching experience, or a bachelors degree in a related field, are not necessary for landing a great job with a reputable school in Korea. The truth is, most of the applicants we receive here at Gone2Korea are from recent graduates who have degrees in completely unrelated fields of study. It’s perfectly fine!
Most Korean employers value two things above and beyond credentials, the first being the candidate’s personality. Korean employers are particularly interested in people who can connect with kids. As the saying goes, students will learn more from an average teacher who is likeable than a great teacher who is unlikeable. The second is the candidates interest in teaching; do they have a sincere interest in teaching, or are they coming purely for travel purposes.
In summary, if you have a friendly and outgoing personality, combined with a legitimate interest in working with children, your chances of securing a great job in Korea is very good.
How can I make my application more appealing to schools and employers in Korea?
Although additional credentials (above and beyond a degree) are not mandatory for acquiring a work visa in Korea, schools and employers are obviously free to accept or decline applicants as they see fit. If you don’t have any full-time teaching experience to display on your resume – don’t worry most applicants don’t – then make sure to include any ‘relevant’ details such as tutoring, coaching, mentoring, etc. This shows schools you have a skillset that’s transferrable to classroom teaching.
What about TEFL certifications, are they worth it?
The short answer, yes having TEFL certification on your resume will definitely make your application more competitive, it’s the easiest way to enhance your profile with a related credential. Being TEFL certified is mandatory for jobs in the public school sector – unless you’re an education major – and optional, but strongly advised, for jobs in the private school sector. To be clear, schools are totally open to hiring new teachers with limited credentials and unrelated majors, however, they obviously feel more comfortable hiring someone who has a basic understanding of ESL teaching principals. Look at it this way, if a school has 1 job opening and they’re reviewing 3 applicants who have similar personalities, no prior experience, are roughly the same age & nationality, etc. but one of them is TEFL certified and the other 2 are not, chances are the school will go with the TEFL certified candidate simply because they know the person is serious about teaching English (because they took the time to get certified) and because the school knows they have a basic understanding of English teaching fundamentals.
There are many good courses out there that are available 100% online. The courses aren’t that difficult and it’s relatively easy to fly through all the course modules within a few weeks, assuming you dedicate an hour or two each day. If you decide to enroll in an ESL certification course then make sure the course is accredited and consists of at least 120 course hours. Korean schools and programs do not acknowledge courses that consist of less than 120 hours as a credential so don’t waste your time and money on a short course. A great place to compare different TEFL courses, from a wide range of top certification programs, is on the TEFL Source website. The pricing is good as well.
Worried about taking the first step alone?
So you want to teach abroad but you’re nervous about doing it alone. We get it! Leaving the ‘normal life’ you’re accustomed to and travelling abroad is not an easy decision, especially if you’ve never done it before. Just remember that South Korea is a very safe and highly developed country with an established ESL teaching industry. As one of the worlds largest employers of ESL teachers, there are more than twenty thousand westerners who are currently teaching in Korea Korea and a large percentage of them are first time teachers and first time travelers. Also, the entire Gone2Korea team is comprised of people that taught in Korea before. We know the ‘in and outs’ and we work closely with our teachers to ensure their transition goes smoothly. Plus, we’re here to help for the entire duration of your contracted term! Make sure to contact us if you have some questions before taking the next step.
See what other teachers have to say about us!
“I want to thank everyone at Gone2Korea for all of your help. You’ve made what could have been a very daunting and overwhelming process simple and seamless. My experience in Korea has been amazing so far. My school is great and I truly appreciate all of the support I continue to receive from Gone2Korea. Thank you for everything you’ve helped me with so far and I look forward to keeping you updated on my Korean adventure”
I’ve been here a little over two months now and I am absolutely loving Korea! There is so much to do and see, and the people here are wonderful. My school and neighborhood are great, and I knew just what to expect when I came. Thank you so much Gone2Korea for making the transition so easy!
We both love Korea. Our school is amazing all the other teachers are so nice and helpful! The kids are ridiculously cute! Everything here has surpassed our expectations! Teaching is going well so far, we honestly have no complaints! We couldn’t ask for more, thank you for all your help!
“The Gone2Korea crew are, to use grammatical paralance, superlative. With their help, I landed a job teaching English at a private school in beautiful Tongyeong. Anyone set on going to teach English overseas for the first time should go through a recruiter,and you can’t do better than Gone2Korea. They make the whole process smooth and painless,and answer questions immediately and helpfully. They are consumate professionals every step of the way. Go with these guys, they will take care of you!”