Teaching English in Korea
Frequently Asked Questions – Updated December 2015
We have attempted to cover as much as possible in our Frequently Asked Questions. If you have a question which is not covered below, we have an easy solution for you: Ask us! Contact Reach To Teach
South Korea currency is called won (KRW). Make sure you’re checking what the exchange rate is so you know what the exact conversion rate is. The average rate for first year teachers is 2.1 million won per month. Yes, you will be a millionaire (but only in Korea).
If you’re applying to the EPIK or SMOE program, please look at the requirements here.
The requirements for teachers that are applying for private school positions are a bit different. You must have a University degree and a TEFL certificate is a good idea if you would like to work at a good hagwon.
You are more than welcome to complete an application form now if you don’t have a TEFL certificate, however, we do need confirmation of enrollment from you to prove that you are willing to get a TEFL certificate for teaching positions in Korea. Reach To Teach recommends a number of prestigious TEFL programs that come recommended by our client schools and teachers. Furthermore, as a Reach To Teach teacher, you may even be eligible for a discount on your TEFL course. For more information, please visit our Reach To Teach TEFL page.
Yes! Most of our teach abroad programs are now requiring teachers to have a TEFL certification. In addition, many schools offer higher salaries to TEFL qualified teachers (as long as the course is 100 hours or more). If you are interested in getting TEFL qualified we recommend the i-to-i 120 hour online course. It’s internationally recognized and very well structured. You will also be happy to know that by booking the course through Reach To Teach you will receive a further 10% discount off their already discounted price! You just need to enter the promo code: reachtoteach10 at checkout.
That’s a great question and this link will provide you with some useful information!
With the EPIK and SMOE programs location preference on a first come, first served basis, so the earlier you apply the better your chances of getting your preferred location. With private schools (hagwons) we have many locations that you can choose from.
Yes. However, please be aware that many schools will require you to purchase your flight up front. The cost of your flight will be reimbursed within your first month paycheck after arriving in Korea.
Yes, your school will pay for your accommodation. Like any apartment you will still need to provide a down payment (a deposit against damage) and you will be responsible for your utility bills (gas, water, electricity, internet, etc).
We are unable to send photos as every apartment is different! However, rest assured you will be quite satisfied with your apartment. Teachers are generally very happy as apartments tend to be new and modern with plenty of amenities. Most apartments include a bed, a desk, a range, a refrigerator and a washing machine.
You should have at least US$1,500 in savings, above and beyond the cost of your plane ticket. This could be a combination of cash or money via ATM. We suggest you bring the majority in cash in case there are any unexpected problems with your ATM card.
If you have an ATM / credit card, call the card company and let them know you will be living in Korea. If you don’t they may think your card has been stolen and cancel it.
Your school will help you open a Korean bank account when you arrive and your school will then pay your salary into that account. To send money home you simply transfer the money from your Korean account to another account anywhere in the world. You will need to provide this information:
Swift Code/ International Code:
Keep your baggage under 20KG and remember most people buy things when they arrive (e.g. bedding, towels, etc). So, please don’t overload by bringing too much stuff to Korea!
A few thoughts to help you pack:
– Bring a range or clothes for work, play and the seasons. Summer = hot and humid! Winter = snow and ice!
– Most Koreans are quite slim and are generally of smaller frame size than Westerners. If you are of slim to regular build you will be able to buy clothes and shoes in Korea. If you take larger sizes your choices will be more limited.
– Toiletries, body products, etc, can all be easily purchased in Korea (although deodorant, sunscreen and bug spray are all quite expensive).
– For ladies: tampons can be very hard to find in Asia (pads are common) so bring a good supply of your preferred brand.
– Books (e.g. ESL books, ideas for lessons, etc)
– If you run out of stuff or forget anything.. it can always be sent to you!
No. You can get a phone and SIM card in Korea. You can purchase a pre-paid plan or you can opt in for a one year plan. For calls to your home country we recommend using Skype.
A cheap and easy way to keep in touch with loved ones is through SKYPE. They offer very cheap monthly calling plans to cell phones and landlines all over the world. If you are calling computer to computer it is free. Internet is widely available in Korea.
Few teachers drive cars in Korea and most Koreans use trains, buses and subways to get around. There is no need to bring an international license.
Please check with your physician.
Another consideration is that you might decide to go on vacation while you are in Asia. Make sure you check the health advisory boards for information on the countries that you are visiting as you’ll want to be vaccinated against some of the diseases that are present in specific regions. You can also get all necessary vaccinations in Korea before you travel on vacation.
We are not tax specialist so please check all information with your tax office. Tax rules can change and they can also be specific to individuals or certain situations. Generally speaking, teachers pay tax in Korea and are exempt from paying tax again when they return to their home country (providing they completed all the required paperwork). Again, please check with your government tax office before coming to Korea. More Information About Taxes for US Citizens Abroad.
Vacation time is decided by your school and usually set within the school calendar. Vacations are common around August and January.
It’s important to discuss any worries or concerns that your friends and family may have about your plan to teach in South Korea. Here are a few notes to help you with such a conversation:
1. The Far East is one of the safest places to live. Extremely low crime rates, a real sense of society and respect for others. The people of this region are not looking for conflict.
2. There are literally tens of thousands of English teachers in South Korea right now! Check online teacher discussion boards or blogs to see their feelings about living and working in Korea. You won’t see panic or worry. You’ll just see people getting on with their lives and loving their experience in South Korea!
3. The political situation in Korea is not new. It’s been with us for decades. In fact, it’s the same for Taiwan and China. The Western media hypes stories ‘breaking news’ but in reality it’s just the same old politics year after year. Heated but toothless politics seems to be part of everyday life in Asia!
4. If you ask the people of South Korea if they think conflict is coming they almost always say ‘NO’. They have lived their lives seeing the same political back and forth and it has never led to anything serious; and it’s not likely to change.
5. When you get to Korea you can register with your Embassy to say you have arrived and are working as a teacher. That way, if there is any reason why you should leave Korea (natural disaster, unexpected changes, etc) your embassy can locate you and plan your safe departure.
6. There are too many physical and economic checks in place for things to suddenly escalate. Countries like Japan, China, USA and organizations like the UN all have a strong influential role in maintaining prosperity, balance, stability and calm to the entire region.
7. It can be easier to worry than simply assess the situation and see the facts. Here are a couple of quotes to help you maintain perspective on your future plans.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
– Mark Twain
Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.
– Mary Schmich