What's It Really Like To Teach English In Korea?
Wondering what's it like to teach English in Korea? Awesome. I was there once and now I am here to share my experience teaching there with you.
Korea was my second country to teach English in. I first started in Taiwan and then later taught in Korea and China.
In this post I'll talk about the culture, the environment, the teaching scene and share some video interviews with teachers in Korea.
I'll also do some comparing to other Asian countries like China, Japan and Taiwan. I'll include some of my experience as well as some of the other teachers in Korea that I interviewed.
First let's take a look at...
4 teachers in Korea talk expectations, housing, food, TEFL courses, shady schools & they give you advice
The teaching scene in Korea
- Requirements: 4 year degree & native English speaker, plus preferences for experience, TEFL certification, etc.
- Job Market: Good, but public school job cuts
- Average Salary: 2.0-2.2 million Won ($1,700-1,900) a month
- Cost of Living: Medium, similar to Taiwan
- Housing: Free
- Airfare: Often free and paid upfront
- Teaching hours: 24-30 a week
*These are averages expect differences between institutions
Best financial beneﬁts
Korea is one of the best paying countries in the world for ESL teachers (especially for beginners) when you add up the benefits.
Free housing, free airline tickets, severance pay, a good salary (close to $2000 a month), some schools (mostly public) offer a start up allowance and a pension for Americans and Canadians make this a great place to save money.
Learn more about the salaries for teachers in Korea.
Say "Kim Chi"
Native to Korea, Koreans love their Kim Chi. You'll ﬁnd hundreds of varieties here. Korean food is often spicy.
Korea is the most conservative of the four places. You'll ﬁnd an unbelievable amount of churches here and many dogmatic Christians. Roughly one third of the population is Christian.
Social conformity is common in Asia. Yet, you'll ﬁnd Korea to not have much diversity in styles of fashion or self expression. The norm is the way. The pop icons set the tone and everyone else follows.
Korea is very mountainous. The highest mountain in South Korea is Hallasan 1,950 m (6,398 ft) and Baekdu in North Korea is 2,744 m (9,003 ft). Hiking opportunities are plentiful.
I hiked all over Busan. It was pretty easy to just go to a mountain and find a trail up it.
Need a boob job? A double eyelid?
Plastic surgery is the norm here. You'll ﬁnd clinics all over. Even adolescent girls are getting "eye jobs". A double eyelid is highly desirable and considered beautiful. It is the most common form of plastic surgery here.
A Korean friend of mine estimated that at least 60% of females between the ages of 18 and 35 have received this kind of surgery.
Proud to be Korean
I think Korea is the most nationalistic of the four locations in East Asia.
High speed internet
You'll ﬁnd high speed internet here and good connectivity. It has ranked #1 in the world for it's internet speed.
If you go to Korea be sure to try out the "Jimjiban". It's a public like bathhouse where you can spend all day or all night soaking in hot tubs or relaxing on the heated ﬂoors. It's cheap too.
I spent like maybe 6 months staying in jimjibans in Busan.
I lived there for three + years. I liked teaching many of the kids there and the ﬁnancial situation. The beneﬁts are good and I usually had nice places to live in. The environment is not as polluted as China and Taiwan, so I liked that too.
And I found it pretty easy to get out of the city and up into the mountains. Public transportation was good.
However, I wasn't a big fan of Korean culture. It's best to live somewhere you are interested in.
""Expect to work hard. I was a teacher beforehand, so I know there are a lot of extra hours involved. But when I was looking at the internet I found stuff like: make sure your apartment has a TV, make sure you get holidays. It is a teaching job, so if you are just out of university or you're taking a year out I would suggest that you take it seriously."- Sandra's advice