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Step 1: Teaching in Korea FAQ
Step 2: Read The Top Posts of 2006
Step 3: How to Find a Job Teaching in Korea

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

How to Find a Job Teaching English in Korea

I've received lots of emails lately about where I worked in Korea, and also what area we lived in. Along with that, people have been emailing about how to find a job teaching English in Korea. Well, right now I'm going to give you a brief guide on what I would do if I were to start my job search today.

Before you even attempt to pound the online job classifieds for teaching English in Korea, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

Can I adjust to a different culture, people, and customs?
Do I enjoy working with children? Am I a flexible person?
Are you interested in Korean culture? What do you know about Korea?

These are some key questions you need to sort out before you even look for a job. Many people arrive in Korea and follow the stages of "culture shock" and eventually start being negative towards Korea. The key here, the big secret is that you need to learn to accept Korea for what it is, and not make comparisons to your country back home. Sure, there are times when you need to vent, but if you can maintain a positive attitude that is open and flexible, you will enjoy your trip to Korea that much more.

Okay, with that being said, I'm going to list the steps I would take if I was to look for a job right now! I told you this would be brief, so if anyone has some more pointers and tips they would like to add, feel free to leave a comment!

1. Research the job market - visit the Korea job listings on Dave's ESL Cafe. Examine the job postings and make yourself a spreadsheet detailing the location, salary, and hours of jobs you are interested in. Do some research on Korea's geography. Where do you want to live? In the heart of the country (Seoul!) or down south near the ocean (Busan!)? I would try to find 10 job offers, then try to slowly eliminate the ones you don't want as you find out more about each school or location. Typically, jobs farther away from Seoul pay more. However, it's up to you to decide about where you want to live and teach.

2. Once you've limited your choices down to 5 schools or so, apply to all of them. You should have a polished resume and cover letter, along with a nice digital photo of yourself. Don't ask me why, but most companies want to see pictures of their teachers before hiring them. Ensure that your photo doesn't have any visible food showing in your teeth.

3. Dave's ESL Cafe: Korea Job Forums - This is where you will do more research on finding out about your school and the area you would possible live in. First things first, register for the forums (this will take a couple days) so you can message other members. I shall give you a warning about the Korea forums on Dave's ESL Cafe...this is an arena where many people voice their frustrations with living and teaching in Korea.

There can be an air of negativity that can ruin your image of Korea--IGNORE it and move along. I can't stress this enough...don't get jaded by the few complainers out there. Take everything you read with a grain of salt. There are rotten apples in every bunch, so the big whiners out there should just hop on a plane and fly home! Nobody is forcing them to teach or live in Korea!

Here you should be using the SEARCH function to find out more about the area and even about the name of your particular school.

4. Hopefully you will get a job offer, and when you do, hit up the forums on Dave's to find out more. Use the SEARCH function once again and if you find nothing, start a new thread asking for more information about your school (this is where the registration comes in handy). Better yet, take advantage of Google and start digging for more info about the area and school. Find Korea blogs with teachers living in the area and politely email them to find out more.

5. Negotiate with your employer - your salary can be negotiable depending on your education and teaching experience. Talk about salary, accommodation, and anything else on your mind. I mentioned we were able to get a queen size bed instead of a double and we also got flights out of Victoria instead of Vancouver. Will they pick you up at the airport? Will you work overtime (don't do it, unless you want more money!)? There's no harm in asking!

Also, ask for teacher references of teachers currently at the school. Ask for an email address and email the teachers to find out more info. This is a vital step and can come in handy.

6. Research, research, research - continue to find out more information about the area and school. Use Google Earth to try and locate where you will be living. Some of my readers have done this to ensure that the location they will be is relatively close to a Costco (you know who you are). So doing your homework will pay off.

Here are some good resources on teaching in Korea...read through them to learn more:
- My own teaching English in Korea FAQ
- A few of my readers have mentioned that this ESL Job Finder has come in handy for finding other jobs overseas, other than Korea
- Teaching English in Korea - Foreign Affairs Canada: this is a great read for everyone, even if you're not Canadian. Lots of information here.
- Outside in Korea has a couple good articles on 44 tips on getting a job and the skinny on teaching in Korea.

What? This sounds like too much work? Well, if that's the case maybe teaching in Korea might not be for you. However, there are FREE recruiters out there that will do the work for you! One such company is Flying Cows Consulting based in the UK. Check them out for finding your perfect job in Korea.

I will probably post a follow up to this (if I remember) about preparing yourself for Korea--if you've recently landed a job, check out my post about things to pack for Korea if you haven't already!

Update, Jan.5/2008: New E-2 Visa Rules


Anonymous said...

Hmmm, seems cool.

Joe joestain13@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

This website was very informative (Teaching English in South Korea) with a ton of useful information: http://www2.ald.net/~roden/korea/pages/intro.htm

It is slightly outdated paywise. You can convert monetary units between countries at this website: http://www.xe.com/ucc/

Currently (10/18/07), 2,000,000 won = $2,178 U.S. dollars, 1,525 Euros, 1,065 pounds

Also, choose a hagwon or public school in a city or rural area that is right for your personality. I enjoy being the only foreign teacher at my small mom and pop hagwon. The only problems are enrollment and lack of companionship. Smaller schools are much more likely to go under due to bad management and it may take a while before the other teachers or students warm up to you. Large hagwons have larger staffs of native teachers and often accept couples which help with the companionship issue. You don't have to worry (as much) about being paid if you work at a public school, but the classes are much larger.

If South Korea isn't right for you, there are ESL jobs in all over the world (Japan, China, Taiwan, Russia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and many other countries). Here are some links: http://www.eslplaza.com/

Good Luck!

Gary said...

John, thanks for informative tips. I'm sure everyone will appreciate them!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I've been keeping up with your blog for months now and I think its awesome. Anyway, I was reading on Asianoffbeat.com and I noticed that your site got a mention in the 'Offbeat News Roundup From Around Asia' section. I just thought that was pretty cool and wanted to tell you if you didn't already know.


Gary said...

Amber: thanks for taking the time to comment. I had no idea I was featured...thanks for this! :)

Anonymous said...

hi there...my name is Nyss..i am actually very interested in teaching ESL in korea@china,but the problem is,i am a non-native speaker and to add to that,i am a 20-year-old-muslim woman..i am currently still in my second semester of Degree in ESL and i even planned to take Mandarin classes..i don't think these as a problem before but then when i browsed through the ESL websites,the basic requirement all seems to be NATIVE SPEAKER..do you still think i have a chance??
anyone who reads this,& have your own opinions@suggestions,please mail me via :


Unknown said...

How long before you want to go to Korea would you suggest applying for jobs. We are interested in going in 2 years, so when would we apply?


Anonymous said...

hi. i'm a-ellynne from Malaysia. I wonder if those Korea schools would like to hire english teachers from Malaysia?

Anonymous said...

If you go to teach English in Korea, I recommend having enough cash to bail yourself out if you don't like it. You can read on many blogs on the web about thousands of unhappy teachers that had awful experiences there. Do your research before going. Look up the good AND the bad and decide if this is really the risk you want to take. Many of the ESL schools (hagwons) are corrupted in many ways so be careful. Look up the horror stories and you will see. If you get there and figure out it wasn't what you expected, or it wasn't as good as your recruiter told you, (they will lie just to earn their recruiting fee) you can sneak away to the airport on a Friday night, buy your own ticket outta there, and by the time they realize your gone on Monday, you'll be home already and there's nothing they can do. Lots of unhappy teachers leave on their own, and its NOT illegal. They will tell you it is just to scare you into staying against your will. Don't believe everything the recruiters tell you. The school pays them to recruit. They are not paid to tell the truth. A lot of the times the recruiter knows nothing about the school they send you to, except the name of the place. Do your homework first, and beware!

Unknown said...

If anyone hears about a company called JungAn Education (they run an after school program in Seoul) run.
I was working there for 4mnths when I found a tumor they threated to fire me because i needed immediate surgery and refused to pay me for an entire month that I worked because I was too sick and had to go home.

David said...

what are some of the basic education requirements to teach in Korea. I have a tesol degree.

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