Teaching English In Korea: What You Need To Know

Written by Dan

Teaching English in Korea is an exciting and unique but challenging experience. If you’re considering taking a teaching position in Korea, it’s essential to know what you’re getting yourself into – and this blog post is here to help! From basic requirements and cultural considerations to tips on finding the right job for you, get ready to learn all about teaching English in Korea. This one-stop-shop guide will give you everything you need to conquer your teaching goals – so let’s dive in and explore what working as an ESL teacher overseas has to offer!

Teaching english

1. What Is English Teaching In Korea All About

What is English teaching in Korea all about?

Teaching English in South Korea involves instructing students of varying ages in English language skills, including writing, reading, speaking, and listening. This can happen in public schools, private language institutes (known as hagwons), universities, or even through private tutoring sessions.

The South Korean government highly emphasises learning English, making it a core subject for students from as early as elementary school. As a result, there’s a high demand for English teachers across the country.

Why should you consider it as your next adventure abroad?

  1. Competitive Salary and Benefits: English teachers in South Korea can earn between $1,350-USD 3,100 per month. Moreover, many teaching positions offer benefits like free or subsidized housing, paid vacation, and airfare reimbursement.
  2. Cultural Exchange: Living and working in Korea provides an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in a new culture, learn a new language, and make lifelong friends.
  3. Travel Opportunities: South Korea is an excellent base for exploring other parts of Asia. You can visit nearby countries like Japan, China, and Thailand with your earnings and vacation time.
  4. Job Security: The demand for English teachers in South Korea is consistently high, offering job security to those who decide to teach there.
  5. Professional Development: Teaching English in Korea can be a stepping stone in your career , whether you plan on continuing in the field of education or branching out into other areas.

2. The Benefits Of Teaching English In Korea

Cultural Experiences

Teaching English in Korea offers a rich cultural experience. You will be immersed in Korean traditions, festivals, and daily life, providing insights into a unique and fascinating culture. From learning the language to trying local food and participating in traditional ceremonies, your time in Korea will be filled with new experiences.

Making a Difference

As an English teacher in Korea, you have the opportunity to make a significant impact on your students’ lives. By teaching them English, you are providing them with a skill that can open up numerous opportunities for them in the future. It’s a rewarding experience knowing you’re making a difference in their educational journey.

Steady Income

Teaching English in Korea offers a steady income, with salaries ranging from $1,350-$3,100 USD per month. This is a competitive salary, especially considering the cost of living in Korea is lower than many Western countries.

Saving Money

One of the major benefits of teaching English in Korea is the potential to save a significant amount of money. Many teaching contracts in Korea include housing or a housing allowance in addition to the monthly salary. Some also cover airfare to and from Korea. This, combined with the low cost of living, means you can save a large portion of your earnings.

Professional Development

Teaching English in Korea also offers numerous opportunities for professional development. Whether you’re interested in advancing your teaching skills, learning about educational administration, or exploring a different career path entirely, the experience you gain in Korea can be invaluable.

Travel Opportunities

South Korea is located in Asia’s heart and is a great launching pad for travelling to other Asian countries. Its well-connected transportation system makes it easy to take weekend trips to places like Japan, China, or Thailand. Plus, within Korea itself, there’s so much to explore, from bustling cities like Seoul to beautiful natural landscapes like Jeju Island.

Learning a New Language

Living and working in Korea allows you to learn Korean, a language spoken by more than 75 million people worldwide. Not only can this be personally rewarding, but it can also enhance your resume and open up new career opportunities.

Building Lifelong Friendships

Finally, teaching English in Korea allows you to meet and build relationships with people worldwide. Whether they’re fellow teachers, students, or locals you meet while exploring the country, these relationships can become lifelong friendships.


3. Requirements for teaching English in Korea

Educational Requirements

To teach English in Korea, you will need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. This degree can be in any field, not necessarily in education or English.

TEFL/TESOL/CELTA Certification

While not always mandatory, having a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), or CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification can increase your chances of securing a teaching job. Some programs might require a certificate with at least 100-120 hours of coursework.

E-2 Visa

Foreigners who wish to teach English in Korea must obtain an E-2 visa. To get this visa, you must be a citizen of a country where English is the primary language and have a clean criminal record. The process involves submitting various documents, including your degree diploma and a health statement.

Native English Speaker

In most cases, schools in Korea prefer to hire native English speakers. However, if English is your second language, but you’re fluent and have a strong command of the language, there are still opportunities available.

Good Health

You must submit a health statement as part of the E-2 visa application process. Korean Immigration reserves the right to approve or decline visa applications based on the applicant’s health status.

Clean Criminal Record

An applicant’s criminal history is also considered when applying for an E-2 visa. A clean federal background check is required as part of the application process.

Open-Mindedness and Adaptability

While not an official requirement, being open-minded and adaptable is crucial when moving to a new country with a different culture and way of life. Your ability to adapt to new situations, understand cultural nuances, and cope with unexpected challenges will contribute significantly to your success as an English teacher in Korea.

4. Tips For Finding An ESL Job In Korea

Research Thoroughly

Start by understanding the Korean education system and the different types of teaching jobs available. Public schools offer a more regular schedule and often have fewer teaching hours than private language institutes (hagwons). However, hagwons might pay more and offer more flexibility regarding location and age group. Universities and private tutoring also have their own advantages and drawbacks.

Use Reliable Job Boards

Online job boards can be a treasure trove of ESL teaching positions. Some popular ones include Dave’s ESL Cafe, Go Overseas, and ESL Jobs World. Make sure to filter your search based on your preferences (such as location, age group, and type of institution), and regularly check these websites for new job postings.

Consider Using a Recruiter

Recruiters specialize in connecting teachers with schools in Korea. They can guide you through the application process, help negotiate your contract, and assist with your visa application. Some recruiting agencies even provide pre-departure training and support. While using, a recruiter can make your job search easier, choose a reputable agency and understand their terms and conditions.

Prepare a Strong Resume and Cover Letter

Your resume should highlight your educational qualifications, teaching experience, and any relevant skills (like proficiency in a second language or experience with special needs students). Your cover letter should convey your interest in the position and explain why you’d be a good fit. Remember to proofread both documents for errors.

Nail the Interview

Interviews for ESL teaching jobs in Korea can range from formal to casual. Be prepared to answer questions about your teaching style, classroom management strategies, and how you would handle cultural differences. You might also be asked to do a mock teaching lesson, so prepare a lesson plan.

Check School Reviews

Searching for school reviews can give you a sense of what current and former teachers think about the institution. Remember that experiences can vary, but consistent negative reviews could be a red flag.

Understand the Contract

Your contract will outline your responsibilities, salary, working hours, vacation time, housing arrangements, health insurance, and other benefits. It’s crucial to understand these terms before signing. If there are any clauses you’re uncomfortable with, don’t hesitate to discuss them with your employer or recruiter.


Connect with people who have already taught in Korea. This could be through online forums, social media groups, or personal contacts. They can provide valuable insights, advice, and possibly job leads.

Professionalism and Patience

The job search process can take time, and the visa application process can be complex. Stay professional in all your interactions, follow up on applications at appropriate intervals, and be patient. Your effort and persistence will pay off!

5. Important Things To Remember When Packing For Your Journey 

Packing for a move abroad, particularly for a job in teaching English in Korea, requires careful consideration. Here are some important things to keep in mind:


Korea experiences all four seasons, so you’ll need to pack a variety of clothes. Winters can be quite cold with heavy snowfall, so warm clothing like coats, scarves, gloves, and thermal wear is essential. Summers are hot and humid, so lightweight and breathable clothing is recommended.

Professional Attire

As an English teacher, you’ll need to dress professionally. While the dress code can vary depending on the school, it’s a good idea to bring a few formal outfits for occasions like job interviews or parent-teacher meetings.


Many Korean apartments and schools require you to take off your shoes before entering, so easy-to-remove shoes can be practical. Also, if your shoe size is larger than a US size 8 for women or a US size 10 for men, you might find it challenging to find shoes that fit in Korea, so make sure to bring enough pairs.

Personal Care Items

While you can find most toiletries in Korea, if you have specific brands or products you can’t live without, it’s a good idea to bring them. This is particularly true for deodorant and certain types of makeup, which might not be readily available or could be quite expensive in Korea.


Remember to bring your electronics, like your laptop, smartphone, and e-reader. However, bear in mind that the voltage in Korea is 220V, so you might need a voltage converter for devices that aren’t dual voltage.


It’s a nice gesture to bring small gifts from your home country for your co-workers and students. These don’t have to be expensive – keychains, postcards, or local snacks can be a fun way to share your culture.


If you take prescription medication, bring enough to last until you’re able to see a doctor in Korea. Over-the-counter medicine that you trust should also be packed, as formulations can vary between countries.

Important Documents

Don’t forget to bring important documents like your passport, degree diploma, TEFL certification, and job contract. It’s also a good idea to have digital copies of these documents saved in your email or on a cloud service.

Open Mind

Lastly, while this isn’t something you can pack in a suitcase, remember to bring an open mind. Living and working in a new country is a fantastic opportunity to learn about a different culture and make lasting memories. Enjoy the adventure!

So, if you intend to teach English in Korea, you should ensure that you have all the essential items packed and ready for your journey. From clothing to electronics, personal care items to important documents and gifts, it is essential that you remember all these things before heading out.

6. Willingness To Be Flexible and Adaptable When Living Abroad

Living abroad in a country like Korea is an exciting opportunity, but it can also present challenges as you adjust to a new culture and way of life. Here are some tips on how to stay flexible and adaptable and deal with culture shock:

Learn About the Culture Before You Arrive

Before you depart for Korea, take time to learn about the culture, customs, and etiquette. Understanding cultural norms, such as bowing when greeting someone, or the importance of age and hierarchy in social interactions, can help you adapt more quickly.

Develop a Routine

Establishing a routine can give you a sense of stability and normalcy. This could involve setting regular meal times, scheduling daily exercise, or taking time each day to relax and unwind.

Stay Open-Minded

Keep an open mind and try to see things from the local perspective. Remember that just because something is done differently doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Embrace the differences and enjoy the learning experience.

Practice the Language

Learning Korean, even just a few basic phrases, can greatly enhance your experience. It will make daily life easier, and locals will appreciate your efforts to communicate in their language.

Take Care of Your Health

Living abroad can be stressful, and stress can impact your physical health. Make sure to eat a balanced diet, get plenty of sleep, and exercise regularly. If you’re feeling unwell, don’t hesitate to seek medical help.

Stay Connected with Home

Stay in touch with family and friends back home. Sharing your experiences and hearing familiar voices can help when you feel homesick.

Seek Out a Support Network

Try to build a network of friends and acquaintances in Korea. This could involve joining clubs, participating in social events, or networking with other teachers. Having a support network can help you navigate any challenges that come your way.

Give Yourself Time

Adjusting to a new culture takes time, so be patient with yourself. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed sometimes, but remember that these feelings are temporary and will lessen as you become more accustomed to your new surroundings.

Explore Your Surroundings

Get out and explore your new environment. Visit local markets, try new foods, and travel to different parts of the country. The more you engage with the culture and the people, the more at home you’ll feel.

Remember, experiencing culture shock is a normal part of living abroad. It’s a sign that you’re stepping out of your comfort zone and growing. You can successfully navigate this exciting journey with time, patience, and a positive attitude.

Teaching English in Korea is an enriching experience that requires preparation and adaptability. Each step is crucial for success, from meeting the teaching requirements to packing appropriately for your journey.

Living abroad may present challenges, including culture shock, but with a positive attitude and willingness to adapt, these can be transformed into valuable learning experiences. Ultimately, teaching in Korea is not just a job but an adventure that promises personal growth and memorable experiences. So take the leap, prepare well, and enjoy the journey!

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






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