TEFL Q&A: Do I Need a TEFL to Teach with EPIK in South Korea?

Flickr Photo by cdnsue

Flickr Photo by cdnsue

For the past two decades, South Korea has been one of the top destinations in the world for ESL teachers. In addition to offering one of the highest salaries in the business, schools in South Korea offer free housing, free flights, and insurance benefits, among other perks.

Over the past year, Asian ESL destinations such as Taiwan and China have been moving towards making a TEFL certification mandatory in their hiring practices. A large number of schools in Taiwan these days are looking for teachers with experience and/or a TEFL certification. Meanwhile, the Chinese government has cracked down on requirements for teachers bound for first-tier cities like Shanghai and Beijing by requesting that teachers be 24 years of age, have a TEFL certification and two years of experience post-graduation, one of which must be formal teaching experience. While it is still possible to find employment in Shanghai and Beijing, it’s likely that teachers that do not meet these requirements are not teaching on a proper working Z visa.

This fall, the Korean government made some major changes to their EPIK program, a program that hires ESL teachers for Korean public schools across the country. Teachers with a Bachelor’s degree will not be accepted into the EPIK program unless they have ONE of the following:

  • A BA in English or English Literature
  • A TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certification
  • A Masters degree in any discipline
  • One year of teaching experience
  • Be certified to teach in your home country

In short, if you’re applying to the EPIK program with a Bachelor’s degree that isn’t a BA in English or a BA in English Lit, you need to get a TEFL or have at least one year of formal teaching experience.

Luckily, Reach To Teach is partnered with some of the best TEFL organizations in the world. For more information on the types of TEFL courses that our schools prefer and that come recommended by our teachers, please visit the Reach To Teach TEFL page on our website. Don’t forget that as a Reach To Teach teacher, you’re entitled to a discount off the total cost of your course.

The private school sector in Korea is also making some big changes. More and more schools are changing weekly schedules from a Monday-Friday work schedule to implementing Saturday classes. This means that teachers will still get two days off during the week, but teachers can expect to have Sunday off and one weekday off. Likewise, private schools in Korea are moving towards making a TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certification a requirement, but it isn’t mandatory, yet.

The ESL job market in Asia is becoming more and more competitive every day. Teachers planning on moving abroad to teach English this year should put some thought into the application and start planning ahead.

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