South Korea FAQs
Are you considering teaching English in South Korea? If so, take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions page for more information. Here, you’ll find answers to some of the most common questions about teaching English in South Korea, such as what qualifications are needed, what the job market is like, and what the cost of living is. With this information, you can make an informed decision about whether teaching English in South Korea is the right choice for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the accommodation like?
- You will usually get a one bedroom or studio apartment. It may be smaller than you might expect but it will have all the basics such as fitted kitchen, bed, air conditioning, washing facilities, major appliances, wardrobe, etc. You might need your own crockery, cutlery, towels, bedding etc.
- South Korean apartments generally don’t come with an oven but will have a microwave and you can buy mini electric ovens.
- Rent is covered and no deposit required, you pay for utilities, water, gas, and internet.
- All bathrooms are called bathrooms- so no baths, no shower curtains, all floors get wet.
- There is heating in the Winter.
- All accommodation will be close to your school or centre.
- Apartments in Seoul are older and smaller as the cost of living is higher.
Where will I meet people and make friends?
- You will meet people at the pre-departure orientation
- You can join our South Korean Teachers Facebook group
- We have an interactive map showing you where all the other teachers are, and a bit of background information about them
What do people find most difficult about the move?
- It can be a steep learning curve
- Getting used to your new school/ job
- Adapting to living in a new culture
- Adapting to a new work culture – how to interact with colleagues, bosses and settle in
- Adjusting to the food
- Lack of patience and understanding- it is essential to adapt and accept the way things are done in South Korea, not try and change them
- Culture Shock- the pre-orientation and arrival orientation should help with this
We will offer support with any problems you may have especially with settling into your apartment, school, and South Korea in general.
We have full in country support as well as the pre-departure assistance. Contact us
Who do I contact if I have a problem with my apartment?
The schools own the apartments so you can contact them, or many of them will give you a direct number for the landlord.
Am I allowed pets in the apartment?
We don’t recommend pets. Firstly, bringing an animal into Korea is very difficult and involves a lot of money and paperwork. Secondly, if you get a pet while in Korea myself and my partner don’t think it is fair to then have to leave the animal and find it a new home. This can be very stressful for the animal. Feel free to get yourself some plants or a fish ☺If you are really longing for a pet, many pet rescue centres offer the chance to short term foster pets while they are waiting for a new home.
Do people mostly use cash or card in Korea?
Cash is rarely used, except in the markets. Most transactions happen using card of cashless apps on your mobile phone. It is a very modern country.
How will I be paid?
You’ll be paid into a local bank account which your school and our partner will help you set up.
Can I drive in South Korea? Do I need to?
Most people use the excellent public transport systems in South Korea. The only time you might want a car is if you’re in a very rural area, which isn’t close to any shops. You can easily convert your home car license into a South Korea driving license, but whether you must do any external tests will depend on your nationality and where your license is from. Passing the tests are relatively easy. With an international driving license, you can drive for up to a year in South Korea, so you could do that for the first year.
What happens if I don’t like my school?
Unfortunately, it’s very hard to break contracts in South Korea. If you have a problem with your school because they are not treating you right, out partner will step in and resolve any issues. If you’re struggling with the age group, lesson planning, the culture in the school, workload etc. then we will fully support you through the process and will mediate on your behalf if required. However, we generally encourage all teachers to stay until their contract ends because in order to resign, you need a letter of release from your school and if they don’t want to give it, then this can cause all kinds of problems. However, we do vet all of our schools and have never had any huge issues with this.
Can I come before my contract starts?
Yes, you can. However, you will need to leave South Korea and return in order to get the work permit/ business visa which can’t start until your contract starts. Obviously, post-covid this will be much easier as many people fly to neighboring countries such as Thailand, Vietnam etc
Can we be placed as a couple?
We will always do our best to place couples, but it is not always possible. Generally, we have very high success rates. However, we always eer on the side of caution when telling teachers whether they can or can’t be placed together. Worse case, you may be up to an hour away from your partner in separate accommodation. You would arrange to see each other in evenings or weekends. If you end up with separate housing, you are allowed to live together in just one apartment (the school won’t mind) but this may be difficult if your schools aren’t close. Again, we will try our best to accommodate you.
Are the students generally well behaved?
In general, yes. In private centres there’s only 8-12 students in a class while public schools have a local Korean co-teacher which makes the classes much more manageable. Of course, there is still the issue of dealing with excitable five-year old!
Who can apply for Teaching English in South Korea?
You must carry a passport from one of the following English-speaking countries:
USA, Canada Australia, New Zealand, UK, Ireland, South Africa, and any other
countries where English is the first and native language.
Do I need a degree to teach English in South Korea?
You must have a university bachelor’s degree, but it can be in any subject.
Can my degree be an Associate’s degree?
The degree certificate must have the word ‘Bachelor’ written on the degree certificate. The degree must be from a native English-speaking country and the candidate must be able to get it legalized. If candidates have a master’s degree qualification or higher, the bachelor’s degree will be the certification used to obtain a working visa and no equivalent will be accepted.
Do I need a TEFL qualification to teach English in South Korea?
You will require a TEFL or TESOL certificate with at least 100 hours of study. Schools in South Korea have high standards for their teachers and therefore, the candidate needs to meet a certain set of requirements to be eligible to teach in Korea.
We will assist the participants through this process, but they must meet the minimum qualifying criteria first:
- Applicants must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in any field of study.
- Applicants must be native English speakers and citizens of one of the 6 accepted native English-speaking countries (USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland)
- Applicants must also have graduated with a bachelor’s degree/diploma from one of the 6 native English-speaking countries (degrees from outside these countries are not recognised) Degrees from a Korean University that were taught in English may be accepted and need to be reviewed case-by-case.
- Applicants must be in good physical and mental health and need to disclose if they are taking any medication or have any health issues as this can affect their visa.
- Applicants must be over the age of 21
- Candidates over the age of 35 must be referred to our partner program team before they can be accepted and will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
- Applicants must have a 100% clean federal level Criminal Background Check**
- Applicant must be willing to commit for at least 12 months.
- Applicants must have sufficient funds to pay program fees and other associated costs of the program.
- Applicant must have a 120Hr, in class or online TESOL/TEFL/CELTA. Qualified teachers who have teaching licenses do not need to have a TESOL qualification. You can also come if you are currently enrolled in a TESOL course and will need to provide a letter of enrollment.
- Accent – Candidates must have clear and easy-to-understand accents. If an accent will be challenging for Korean people to understand, we may not be able to accept the candidate as it may affect their success in obtaining a position in Korea. Our partner program may request a voice recording in the event that you are unsure to assess a neutral accent. This applies to all nationalities.
** If an applicant has spent more than 4 months living/teaching/studying abroad in another country, they may be required to get a Criminal Background Check from the country as well.
Required Visa Documents
- Apostilled Copy of Bachelor’s Degree/Diploma**
- Apostilled Criminal Background Check**
- Apostilled Birth Certificate (UK & AUS citizens only)
- Apostilled Certificate of Citizenship (if applicable)
- E2 Health Form (filled out in ink and date left blank)
- Accredited TESOL Certificate- or letter of enrolment.
- 2x Ink Signed Letters of Reference
- 3x Individually Sealed Copies of University Transcripts (keep one copy with and send 2 copies to Korea)
- 8 x Passport Photos (send 4 to Korea and keep another 4 for later)
- Photocopy of your passport name page
- Cover Letter and Resume (with Picture)
- Application for Confirmation of Visa Issuance Form
- Signed copy of Employment Contract
** Documents that need to be legalized in Canada need to be notarized and then receive a consular seal from the Korean Embassy within Canada as there is no Apostille available in Canada.
Which criminal background check do I need?
Participants need to get a background check from their home country from the appropriate authority, mentioned below. If they have lived outside their home country for 4+ consecutive months in another country, they will need to provide a legalized (notarized and apostilled) police check from that country too. This is a relatively new policy implemented by certain Korean immigration offices and teachers’ visas will not be released until they see the additional background check in addition to the applicants’ background check from their home country. The additional background checks are usually acquired in said country and would need to be notarized and apostilled in said country. E.g., If you have studied in Spain for longer than 4 months, you require a criminal background check from Spain which also needs to be notarized and apostilled in Spain. This can be difficult to do from a distance and using a channelling service is often required and costly. In some countries, the participants are required to be there in person to get the document legalized. If this applies to one of your applicants, please check with the South Korea team before accepting the applicants.
- USA-FBI Background check apostilled at the Federal Level by the Department
of State in Washington
- UK-Either an ACRO or DBS check is accepted.
- South Africa-SAPS Police Clearance Certificate
- Ireland-An Garda Siochana –Police certificate
- Australia-National Police Certificate
- New Zealand- NZ Ministry of Justice – Criminal Records Unit
- Canada-Royal Canadian Mounted Police Check (RCMP)
Do I need a medical check?
Applicants must be in good physical and mental health. In order to get a work permit, a health check is required once in-country. It consists of a chest x-ray, giving a blood and urine sample, an eye, ear exam and a general check-up (blood pressure, colour test etc.). There is no list of unacceptable conditions but those that we have been informed of cannot be accepted are HIV, epilepsy, and mental health disorders where participants are taking daily medication. Any other health conditions will need to be handled on a case-by-case basis. We require candidates to disclose a history of mental health issues so we can provide support and ensure the candidate can cope with the rigours of working abroad. We require that candidates with any health issues are sent to our partner program for approval before signing that applicant up for the program.
Where Can I teach English in South Korea?
There are a few different types of schools that you can teach in, with each having its own advantages and disadvantages. Most commonly, an English teacher in South Korea works either at a public school or at a private English language school. In terms of locations, our top five most common locations are outer Seoul (not the city centre), Incheon, Daejeon, Daegu, Busan. We place people predominately in the North but do have placement all over South Korea.
How long are teaching contracts in Korea?
Contracts for teaching jobs in Korea are generally one year in length and you must stay for the whole year. Your work permit and visa will be directly linked with your school contract.
What is the pay and what are the benefits?
You will earn $1700-1900 US per month for 40 hours a week.
- You will be given a free apartment- you only need to pay for bills and the internet.
- You will get comprehensive medical insurance in Korea. Korean hospitals have excellent facilities.
- You will get around 26 paid holidays when working in the public schools or around 8-10 days holiday when working in the private language centres (Hagwons), which increases to around 15 in your second year. You also get all public holidays. In general, there are two 5-day long weekends throughout the year, so you get around 4 breaks per year.
Do I get paid for overtime?
In most cases, yes. It will be mentioned in your contract.
Is there any preferred dress code for teaching in South Korea?
A professional dress code will be preferred. Conventional collar shirts and pants for men and conservative dress/pants and blouse for women. Make sure you have no visible tattoos or body piercings (other than standard ear piercings) at any time while teaching. We cannot accept people with tattoos on their hands, faces, or visible areas. Hair can be dyed but only in natural colours- no pink or green!
Private English Language Schools
How many students are there in the class?
8-15 students per class
What resources and materials are there?
You usually have access to inside resources on an online portal where teachers can share ideas, lesson plans, PowerPoints, materials etc. You’ll also be provided with books and resources. The classroom is well equipped with everything you’ll need. You won’t need to make lessons from scratch as the materials are provided, but obviously, you need to come to well-prepared!
Will there be other expat teachers?
Yes, generally there is always more than one native English-speaking foreign teacher at each school/ centre. Typically, there will be 2-5 other teachers at the school.
Are there intake dates?
No, private schools are year-round.
Private and Public Universities
This is more likely the route for experienced teachers, and often those with a master’s degree in English, Education or similar.
International schools pay the highest salaries but have high standards and strict entry requirements. This route would be more suitable for someone who is coming from a teaching background with a PGCE, a Bachelor of Education or a state teaching license. We place around 80% of teachers in public schools while the other 20% is in private schools.
What are the working hours?
All public-school hours are the same and it’s 8.30 am- 4.30 pm and so it’s a 40- hour workweek. You won’t be teaching for all this time, but you will be acquired on site for the duration.
What are the materials and resources like?
Materials are much more minimal, with less capability for sharing lessons and fewer resources provided for you. Therefore, more lesson planning is required. However, you get the chance to make more of your own materials, have more control over what you teach and can be more creative.
What is the age range and level?
You will teach a range of students of all ages and abilities from beginner to advanced
How many kids are in the class?
There are usually 20-30 students in the class but you will get a South Korean co-teacher in the class with you who can help you with classroom management, behavioural issues, translations and giving instructions.
.How many hours will I teach?
Around 20-24 hours per week, and the rest is for lesson planning, grading, prepping, writing reports etc.
Who will I work with?
You may well be the only foreign teacher at your school, so it will be harder to make colleagues and work friends. However, you’ll have our network of teachers to befriend for socializing and there will other public-school teachers in your area/ town/ city.
Are their intake dates?
Yes, the peak one is in March (for Spring intake) and September (for the Autumn intake) You may need to wait for these two times of year to come if you want to work in public schools, as the intake is less flexible.
What is the cost of living in South Korea?
We will give you a monthly budget with all of your likely expenses.
How’s the expat community in South Korea?
There is a large expat community in South Korea, with many being English teachers! However, there are also students and business and technology professionals. This means that there lots of cultural and non-cultural things to do across the country. Definitely make sure to check out the Kimchi Festival in Seoul, where you can enjoy everything related to this popular side dish. Take in the cherry blossoms during springtime, the fun and unusual mud festival on the Western coast and many more.
Is it possible to save money while teaching in South Korea?
Definitely. One of the reasons why a lot of Teachers go to teach in South Korea is to save money, especially as you have rent-free accommodation.
Apart from teaching what can South Korea offer me?
South Korea has a lot of things to offer. You can enjoy a futuristic city life alongside rich history and tradition.
How’s the food in South Korea?
South Korea has many remarkable mouth-watering foods to offer.
What about the placement? What does it include?
- Full support from signs up and beyond
- Complete job placement with our fully vetted schools
- Paid holidays – 10-15 depending on the school
- Pre-departure info including all document processing
- Contract signing before you leave your home country
- In-country and pre-arrival orientation from staff who have all lived and worked in South Korea
- Help with settling in
- Call check ups
- Help with lesson planning and teaching materials
- Part of a Facebook Page for other teachers in South Korea
- Ongoing in-country support
- No end date (even if you move school or even country)
What should I expect when signing up for the full relocation package?
An amazing experience, plenty of opportunity to explore this fascinating country, a great network of friends, constant support from start to finish, unforgettable memories, to learn a lot about yourself both professionally and personally, plenty of expose to a rich history and culture and an overall amazing experience. Contact us
How long does the process take from start to finish?
It can take anything from 3-6 months. A lot of this depends on how quickly you get your documents to us, how good you are at interviewing and whether you have any prior experience and what your requirements are.