US Embassy - Seoul ESL Embassy in Seoul



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From Embassy of The United States (Seoul - Korea)

Teaching English and types Of ESL Positions Available In Korea

Most English teachers work in language institutes (hakwon in Korean).  There are, however, positions available in a variety of settings:

   *  Private foreign language institutes (hakwons)
   *  Corporate in-house language programs
   *  University language institutes
   *  University academic departments
   *  Provincial institutions, both public and private.
   *  Government/private research centers
   *  Editing/public relations/advertising companies
   *  Private teaching/informal classes
   *  ETIS/EPIK Korean government program

Private language institutes are found all over Korea.  Some institutes are well-known, with many branches; others are small and short-lived.  The ESL market in Korea is extremely competitive and many institutes fail.  Most hakwons employ a number of instructors for conversation and occasionally for writing classes.  The typical employee can expect to work 25 to 30 hours per week.  The majority of classes are conducted early in the morning and in the evening, so many instructors have free time in the afternoons.  Most classes have between 10 and 25 students.  Pupils may be grade school or college students, or businessmen who are considering overseas assignments.  Some of the better institutes provide housing for instructors.  The average salary currently ranges from about 2 to 2.5 million won per month (US $2,100 to US $2,600).

Most large corporate groups (chaebol in Korean) have their own in-house programs.  The typical instructor can expect to teach more than 30 hours per week, teaching all day from early in the morning to late at night.  Most are intensive programs where the students study for three to six months.  Some employers provide full benefits including housing, but the instructor may be required to commute long distances from Seoul.  The average salary for these institutes is currently between 2.1 to 2.5 million won per month (US $2,200 to US $2,600).

Major universities in Seoul, as well as some provincial universities, operate foreign language institutes.  Some pupils are university students, but the majority of students are businesspeople.  These institutes tend to have the highest hiring standards in Korea; most instructors have M.A. degrees and several years teaching experience and are members of TESOL (Teachers of English to Students of Other Languages).  The pay, status, and benefits offered by these institutes are among the best in Korea, and as a result, there is very low turnover.

Most universities in Korea have academic departments dedicated to foreign language instruction separate from the foreign language institutes.  These universities employ full-time English conversation instructors.  University classes tend to be large, with little personal contact with the students.  Most instructors teach between 10 and 15 hours a week.  Most universities in Seoul do not provide housing, and some do not provide the benefits required by law.  Monthly salaries currently tend to run about 2 million won (US $2,100) per month, with three to four months of paid vacation per year.

Provincial universities generally provide better housing, working conditions, and salaries.  They also tend to treat foreign instructors as part of the faculty.  The better working conditions, however, should be taken into account when considering the cultural isolation a foreigner may encounter living in the Korean countryside.

Many government agencies and some private companies operate research institutes.  Most of these institutes hire foreigners who have degrees in the humanities, economics, or business administration as full-time editors.  Editors proofread correspondence and research publications, write speeches, and occasionally teach.  Most institutes pay quite well, and some provide housing.  Because these institutes tend to be government-run or affiliated with corporate groups, their instructors seldom experience problems in obtaining work visas.

Quite a few public relations and advertising companies in Korea hire foreigners to work as copy editors, and occasionally as teachers.  These positions are very hard to obtain as they are quite popular with the resident English-teaching community.  There are also opportunities to appear on television programs, movies and radio.  Most of these positions pay quite well and some provide housing assistance.

ETIS (English Teachers in Seoul) and EPIK (English Program in Korea) are programs sponsored by the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education and the Korean Ministry of Education, respectively.  These fairly new, Korea-wide, government-sponsored programs place native English speakers in every school district in Korea and present a unique opportunity for the adventurous to live away from popular tourist centers.  While recruiting and training appear to be performed quite professionally, teachers’ living and working experiences vary considerably.  Some are welcomed with open arms and treated extremely well.  Others, arriving in areas where the program has been forced upon reluctant, under-funded schools, are greeted less warmly and face significant challenges winning over ambivalent – or antagonistic – Korean counterparts.  Housing, benefits, reliability of pay, and access to ombudsmen are steadily improving, but still have a long way to go.

Many full-time English teachers teach part-time as well, either at another institute or in privately arranged classes.  Extra-contractual private instruction is illegal; however, many English teachers take on private students.  Part-time instruction at a second institute is legal only with permission from the sponsoring institute and Korean immigration authorities.  Private students tend to pay more per hour, but some instructors have found it hard to maintain long-term private classes.  One should arrange for private lesson fees to be paid prior to each class.  The Embassy reminds teachers that they are personally responsible for any violations of Korean teaching and immigration law they might commit.
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