links i find vital

where it all started for me! (btw it starts off with like a min of music)
a seoul radio station interview about bssk
a bunch of interviews with black expats in soko
find family on facebook: Brothas&Sistas of South Korea

Saturday, August 22, 2015

a basic breakdown of teaching english in south korea.

photo source here.
the date is not really 2015, but i want this post to stay at the top.

regardless of where you were born, you are qualified to work in south korea if you hold a passport from AND earned your degree in the US, Canada, South Africa, UK, Ireland, Australia, or New Zeland. if you dont have a bachelors but do have two years of undergrad/associates, you can work for korea via the talk program. you do not need to know how to speak korean. you do not need any teaching experience.

in south korea, children go to public school during the day. after the regular school day, they go to after school private academies, also called hogwons. there are hogwons for every subject: math, science, music, art, etc, and of course, learning english. if you teach in south korea, you will work public (meaning public school) or private (meaning hogwons). if you have a masters degree, you may want to instead pursue work at a university or a uni-gwon.

commonalities for most soko jobs: you work under contract for one year. they will reimburse you for your plane ticket. you will have free furnished housing, you'll have medical insurance, you get a one month extra pay as severance at the end of your contract.

public school is a regular mon-fri gig, public holidays off, 9am-5pm or whatever hours they have you working. you will be the only non-korean in the school. you work as an assistant to your korean co-teacher. curriculum might be already prepared, or you may have to make it yourself or with the help of your co-teacher. class size is big, 20, 30, 40+ students per class. usually 45 min a class i think?

hogwon hours are afternoon to evening/night. usually mon-fri, maybe weekends too/instead, depending on the school. you are alone in the classroom and will be one of many non-koreans working at the school, depending on how big the school is. maybe they will have a set curriculum for you to teach, or maybe they give you a book and tell you to have a it.

think of hogwons like fast food joints. maybe you work for mcdonalds or burger king or carl's jr: all serve burgers, but are a little different in both name and location. ie: Sonic is the same everywhere, but you know that the one on Main Street is your favorite and the one you visited one time on Grand Ave was terrible. maybe you've heard great things about the mcdonalds Maharaja Mac, but they wont make it for you b/c it's only on the menu in mcdonalds india. dont swallow things you hear like, "i heard hogwons dont pay on time" or "i heard schools shut down and leave you stranded," or the like. Instead, just remember that you will always hear the negative & rarely hear the positive. case in point:Ive heard TERRIBLE things about the hogwan chain "Wonderland," but i met a girl who worked her first year there at a branch in seoul and she loved it and would've stayed/renewed her contract were it not for family things calling her back home.

are you ready? get your paperwork started. look at the job board on eslcafe. if you are black & nervous about coming, listen to this and read the discussion forums on the fb group. ready? break!


supa dupa fly said...

unrelated, but canada has a mclobster roll sandwich.

Peterson said...

Areed about the crapshoot that is hagwons. I think the best advice is to talk to a current teacher before you sign a contract.

Elaine said...

I'm a black woman, 25 y.o., who wants to teach in South Korea. I'm worried that I'm not as qualified as the wave of new grads and others that are now deciding to teach there. I'm struggling to get recommendations, and I only have one year of tutoring experience (it was at my uni back in 2005-2006). I'm not an education major either. I'll check out the FB group to see if there was anyone who was in my position, but found a job in there.

a boy from another planet said...

I taught English in S. Korea in the summer of 2008. Absolutely loved the experience.

I think it is unfair and unjust to recruit English teachers based on passports. I worked with a lot of "teachers" from the West who were massively unqualified. They had no experience with ESL and were horrible teachers. I have a friend from Brasil who has a masters in ESL. She is a phenomenal ESL teacher but just because she received her degree in Latin America, Korean schools are reluctant to hire her. Instead, they recruit engineer and biology majors from America, Canada, Australia etc. who don't even know what a coordinating conjunction is.

I feel bad for some of these Korean students. They pay ridiculous amounts of money to learn English but they end up with unqualified teachers simply because of the flawed stereotype that all Westerners speak and teach flawless English.

justin said...

Ok so I do not have a degree BUT I have attended atleast 2 years of college. I took a look at the Eligibility section on and is it me or did they change something? I remember looking at it last month and it was saying that if a person doesn't have a degree then they must have atleast attended college for 2 years. But now,it says this "Applicants with an Associate's Degree OR completing their final semester of the Associates degree program MUST submit their final transcript with the date of degree confer indicated ".

So now applicants must be in their last year of college towards their to qualify for the talk program? 2 years of college is not acceptable anymore?

supa dupa fly said...

hi justin. your blogger profile settings are private, so i can't msg you directly. i suggest you send an email to talk and ask them directly.
best of luck, do keep us updated.

Anonymous said...

I love this blog. I hope this will be me in August. I hope to teach in Korea this year...I'm just waiting .

Muse said...

Me too @Anon! Sent through my documents a couple of weeks ago! Keep me posted.

Anonymous said...

Im applying today on the parkenglish website, is that a good place to apply to teach abroa?

Sarah Louise said...

Hi, I was wondering if you could help me with some information. I am planning on visiting a friend in Seoul from the beginning of aug to oct and was interested in volunteer opportunities and was wondering how you organise a visa specific for volunteering and do you need a visa for all types of volunteering please?

Julie said...

It seems that this is your longest post. I hope you'd write more and more. Thank you.

English School in the Philippines said...

Thanks for the very detailed post.

Anonymous said...

QUESTION, not comment. What's the going rate for private classes Korea? Please tell,
Thanks Ellen

supa dupa fly said...

Hi Anon. I do not know b/c i do not teach privates. I value my free time. You can perhaps find an answer on

Praveen RS said...

Such a nice post

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