TEFL Courses

TEFL and TESOL Certifications for Teaching English Abroad

Everything you need to know about TEFL courses and how they affect your eligibility and/or desirability with hiring schools and programs in South Korea. IMPORTANT: You can add a TEFL certification to your resume as a formal qualification BEFORE you’ve completed the course, under the condition you provide a copy of the completed certificate prior to starting your employment contract.

TEFL Certification Courses For Teaching English in Korea

If you’re looking for some  discounts on accredited TEFL courses then make sure to check our recommended courses page to see some exclusive offers from trusted Gone2Korea partners.

TEFL Courses
First things first, TEFL basics!

TEFL is an acronym for ‘Teaching English as a Foreign Language’. However, the term is widely used to describe the teaching and travelling industry (i.e. TEFL course, TEFL jobs, TEFL programs, etc.).

Short answer, not really. Long answer, TEFL was originally created in order to train native English speaking people how to teach English in other non-English speaking countries. TEFL is the more popular term used in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia. TESOL (Teaching English as a second language) is the result of combining TEFL and TESL methodologies (TESL typically refers to training people to teach non-native English speakers in their home countries such as immigrants or foreign students). Today TEFL and TESOL are interchangeable terms and many course providers now market their programs as TEFL and TESOL.

Believe it or not, CELTA is just a TEFL brand name that was created by Cambridge University. There are many TEFL brands in the world but CELTA is one of the oldest and tends to be viewed as the industry benchmark by many industry professionals. However, there are many international TEFL programs around today that offer training, testing, and support that exceeds CELTA.

It’s exactly what you’re thinking; a course that trains and certifies people to teach English as a foreign language.

This simply refers to the credential you will have (you’ll be TEFL certified) once you’ve completed a TEFL course. You can add your TEFL credential to your resume so employers know you’re certified.

There are 3 types of courses; online, in-class and combination courses. We’ll explain more about the pros and cons of each in the information below.

Lesson planning know-how, classroom management techniques, student evaluation methods, teacher preparation exercises, understanding cultural differences in education and activity ideas for the classroom are some of the topics covered by most courses. In short, TEFL courses will equip you with knowledge and know-how that will benefit your students and make your transition into the teaching field easier.

Most courses are developed, owned and administered by private sector companies and/or colleges and universities.

There are countless courses to choose from ranging in quality, level of difficulty and total course hours. Most standard 100 to 150 hr courses are relatively easy (easier than a university class) although they do take time. Other courses, such as level 5 TEFL courses, are more in depth and have a much higher degree of difficulty.

Sometimes. Private schools rarely offer higher salaries to TEFL certified teachers but some do. Public schools have set salary rates that increase with the number of credentials you have.

Do I need a TEFL certification to land a teaching job Korea?

This is a pretty loaded question because there are lots of variables that determine whether or not someone needs TEFL in order to land a job in Korea. Similarly, there’s a big difference between getting certified in order to qualify for certain jobs (making yourself eligible) and getting certified in order to make your application more competitive so you actually land a job. The uncomplicated answer; it’s mandatory for certain opportunities and not for others, although it’s advantageous to have for all opportunities (we hope that makes sense). The complicated answer is explained below.

TEFL Policies for Teaching in the Korean PRIVATE School System
Hagwons, Language Academies, After-School Programs

A bachelor’s degree is the minimum educational qualification needed to acquire a work visa with a Korean private school employer; meaning, having TEFL is not mandatory. However, (BIG however) qualifying for a work visa is completely different than qualifying for jobs with schools. Candidates essentially need to qualify for both entities, the employer (for the job) and the immigration office (for the visa).

Each private school sets their own in-house hiring policies for their teaching staff. As a result there’s an enormous range of hiring practices and policies with Korean schools (there are over 10 thousand of hagwons in the country!). For example, some of the schools we represent will only hire elementary education majors from the US or Canada, they’re incredibly selective with their hiring preferences. On the opposite side of the spectrum some schools will hire first time teachers from any nationality with completely unrelated majors, no experience, and no teaching certifications, it’s a huge difference! There’s also an entire range of school preferences in the middle, some schools want teachers who have working experience with children while others want teachers who have attained their TEFL certification and so on. Just to be clear though, schools that hire non-qualified first time teachers are still selective with the people they offer contracts to and they obviously prefer candidates with credentials or some type of related experience.

Simply put, if you have no prior experience and a degree in an unrelated field then adding a TEFL credential to your resume will make your application more competitive. It will also qualify you for positions you wouldn’t otherwise be eligible for. Schools are well aware of the fact that teachers with TEFL require less training when they arrive (because the courses offer insight on class prep, lesson planning, student management, etc.) so when they have a choice between similar candidates (some with TEFL and others without) the schools generally gravitate towards the people with TEFL.

Do private schools prefer online, in-class or combined TEFL certification?

The large majority of private schools don’t have a preference for the type of course an applicant has (online, combined or in-class courses are all adequate), however, the course should consist of at least 100 course hours. Korean employers in both sectors (public and private) do not recognize TEFL certifications under 100 hours as a credential; meaning, if you decide to get certified then don’t waste your time on a 60 or 80 hour course, go for 100 hours at the very minimum.

Gone2Korea TEFL advice for people who plan on working in the private school sector

If you don’t plan on teaching long term (you only plan on teaching ESL for a year or two) then getting an accredited online TEFL certificate in the 100 – 160 hour range should do the trick. It won’t affect your salary level very much but it can help you land a job (or a better job) by making your application stand out in an increasingly crowded space. More importantly, it will prepare you for teaching English as a foreign language which is advantageous to you and your future students.

Alternatively, if your goal is to teach longer term and in other regions outside of East Asia, such as South America or the Middle East, then you may want to opt for an in-class course or combination course.

TEFL Policies for Teaching in the Korean PUBLIC School System
English Program in Korea (EPIK), Metropolitan and Provincial Education Offices

Having a TEFL or TESOL certification for teaching at public schools (EPIK, SMOE & GEPIK programs) has been mandatory since 2011 – with a few exceptions for education majors and qualified candidates which we explain below.

Over the years there have been lots of TEFL policy tweaks and changes by the different Education Offices in Korea. As a result much of the information you read online is outdated and no longer relevant to the current policies. For example, English majors and Linguistics majors no longer qualify automatically. As such, even candidates with related majors are now required to be TEFL qualified.

TEFL Exceptions:  The only candidates who qualify automatically (i.e. people who don’t require a TEFL or TESOL certification) are Education Majors, TESOL Majors and those who posses a valid teaching license, or PGCE, from their respective country of citizenship.

The truth about the 20hr in-class teaching practice policy

Having a 20hr in-class component has very limited, if any at all, impact on having your application approved. You need the certification in order to qualify and apply, however, having your application ‘approved’ is 99% dependent on your official interview with EPIK or the Education Office. The truth is the majority of EPIK teachers land their jobs with online courses. Just to be clear, online only TEFL courses are perfectly fine as long as they’re accredited and consist of 100 hours or more.


Busan Metropolitan Office of Education: The Busan MOE requires candidates to have a 100hr TEFL that includes a 50hr teaching practice component. Note: Just because your TEFL has the 50hr component doesn’t guarantee you a position in Busan. Busan is a highly competitive working location and your application competes with many education majors, people with lots of experience, etc.

Current Public School TEFL Requirements

The course must consist of 100 course hours, or more. Anything less than 100 hours is not accepted as an English teaching credential by EPIK or the Education Offices (excluding Busan, as mentioned above). Secondly, the course should be accredited or have international recognition.

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: