If you are looking to apply to teach English in South Korea, then you have come to the right place. There is a lot of preparation work that comes into teaching abroad and I will list several steps of the process below. I currently went through the process and am recording each step of the way. So now that you have decided to teach English in South Korea, there are several things that you need to take care of before applying for a position. Although many of the steps can be done while applying, I suggest you take care of these items beforehand since the application process can happen quite quickly.
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Teach English in Korea
How to Apply
There are several things to consider before applying to teach in Korea. There are some opportunities that you may think are too good to be true. There are two types of schools you can teach for in South Korea, there are the public schools mostly run under the EPIK Program and Hagwons also known as private schools and after-school programming. Public schools are more reliable agencies since they are run by government funding. Although, there are several teachers who currently teach in Hagwons and love their jobs and benefits, however, often times there have been quite a few horror stories from fellow teachers. If you choose the Hagwon route, it would be very important to do some research beforehand
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TESOL or TEFL Certification
One of the first things that you will need to do is to obtain a TESOL or TEFL Certificate. I highly suggest you get one with over 100 hours since most of the schools in South Korea require this. Even if you see that they don’t, you will have a better chance of standing out in front of your competitors and this may be one of the things that either makes or breaks your application. If you want to work in Busan, it is necessary to have an in-class TESOL or TEFL certificate.
Fill out an EPIK Application
I suggest you download the EPIK application to pre-fill out prior to the term you are applying for. Just download the application online and fill it out (it’s okay if it is from the previous term). I suggest you make your edits and fill this out before you apply with the school directly or with a recruiter. It will give you an idea of what types of questions and essay questions you will need to fill out.
The reason I suggest you fill this out beforehand is that the next terms application forms aren’t available until right before you need to start submitting them. This way it gives you an upper hand and you can just copy and paste your answers into the updated application. The application is broken up into 3 sections, personal information, personal essay questions, and a sample lesson plan. I won’t go over the personal information since that is self-explanatory.
Personal Essay Questions
Be sure not to mention anything about traveling in your personal essays. The school is not concerned with you wanting to travel. Instead talk about how teaching in South Korea will benefit you whether that be with public speaking skills, working with different people, etc. They want to know how teaching English in Korea will be an important asset in your career.
Make this as simple as possible. What I mean by simple, I mean make sure everything works well together and it caters to new learners. Avoid using complex sentences and focus more on how you will be applying the learning materials to your students. I know it might be hard and difficult since you won’t have a curriculum to reference, but I suggest you find some lesson plans online for inspiration. Include the worksheets, but this should not exceed more than 5 pages total, including the lesson plan and worksheets.
Teach English in Korea – Required Documents for EPIK
FBI Background Check with an Apostille
Now, I am not sure what the requirements are in other countries, but the requirements I will be talking about are for American citizens. This part is very important and should be done early but within 6 months of when you teach in South Korea. You should apply for your FBI Background check by visiting the FBI website. The FBI Background check costs around $18. You should apply online so that you can get updated about your results and you will be able to print the results online. This process can take a while to get back, I was able to get my results back within 2 weeks, but that may just be pure luck since I have heard of people waiting longer than that to get them back.
You can get your fingerprints anywhere on a card, but I suggest you go to a fingerprinting place rather than a police station. I once had my fingerprints printed at a police station and unfortunately, the FBI were not able to read my fingerprints because they weren’t done properly. Fingerprinting places are more likely to be accurate. My fingerprints cost me about $5, but that varies on where you will get them done.
Finally, the apostille is important in order for them to accept your paperwork. The apostille for your FBI Background check can only be done through the secretary of state in Washington DC. I suggest you use a channeler for this process since this is when things can take too long to get things back. I used Monument Visa and was able to get my apostille back within a week. Do not remove the staple from the apostille since it will no longer make the apostille valid. The apostille with Monument Visa cost me about $50 which was worth it to get it in a timely manner.
Bachelor’s Diploma with an Apostille
A Bachelor’s degree is required to apply to teach English for the EPIK program. So you will need to get your college diploma, get it notarized and an apostille. The apostille does not need to be done in Washington DC for your diploma. It will most likely be in the state you are living in or the state that you received the diploma in. I was able to get this done within a day only because I live in the city where our local secretary of state is. Do not remove the staple from the apostille since it will no longer make the apostille valid. It cost me about $20 to get an apostille.
2 Original Reference Letters with Ink Signatures
This is very important to get done early. The letters will need to be on letterhead paper with an ink signature and include a date and contact information. I believe these can be valid as long as they are completed within a year from when you applied.
2 Sets of University Official Transcripts
Get at least 2 sets of your transcripts and they need be official. An official transcript means it is in a sealed envelope. Do not open these and they are no longer valid after opened.
You will need several passport photos for your application, your visa, passport (if you don’t already have one) and more. I suggest you get quite a few done so that you are ready when you need one. I was able to get my passport photos done at Costco for a fraction of the cost with a lot of prints.
Make sure you get your passport done if you haven’t already or renewed if you need to replace it within a year. This can be done any time during the process.
To use a Recruiter or Not
This is a preference thing, but you can submit your documents yourself through the EPIK Program or you can choose to use a recruiter.
When you use a recruiter, they will prep you for the interview questions, reference letters, review your answers on the application for the personal essay and lesson plan prior to submitting the documents which help with making sure your answers are what EPIK is looking for.
You should not be required to pay the recruiter anything as I believe EPIK will pay to use their services. If you choose to use a recruiter, I highly recommend you use Korean Horizons. I have had such an amazing experience with Alistair. He is very responsive and able to answer any questions that I may have. His expertise and knowledge gave me a lot of comfort in this process as there is a lot of waiting.
If you choose not to use a recruiter, you may find out your results quicker and have an interview sooner than when you do with a recruiter. So there are pros and cons to both.
It may be months, weeks or days until you finally receive an email about your interview date. The interview process can be a very elaborate and tedious process. I suggest that you practice with some questions that most of us received including myself. I’ve listed some of the interview questions I was asked below so you have something to practice with. This is an interview and they want to make sure you are there because you want to teach and you want to work for them.
- What is EPIK?
- Why do you want to work in South Korea? Why EPIK?
- Why teach English and not teach a subject related to your degree?
- Why did you choose the location within Korea on your application?
- What interests you most about the position? Why Korea and not another Asian country?
- What do you know about Korea?
- What was your major and how can you apply it in the classroom?
- How would you deal with a disruptive student?
- What would you do if your co-teacher was not pronouncing the words properly or making mistakes?
- Please describe what advantage you may have over the many other applicants that will be applying to EPIK.
The interview with EPIK will be a Skype interview, so please make sure your Skype username is an appropriate one for the interview. If you are working with Alistair from Korean Horizons, you will have a practice interview with him. He definitely goes over a lot of the questions in full details and is very helpful with that process. With your interview, remember that this is a real interview, even if you work with Alistair at Korean Horizons, he will expect you to be dressed and covered (it is important to have your shoulders covered in Korea). So be prepared to be dressed for business.
Second, make sure the background you have is plain and without anything behind you. Just because the interview is over Skype does not mean that you shouldn’t be professional. Be sure to tell your family or friends that you will be having an interview. I have heard of horror stories of people failing because a husband or boyfriend was walking in the background shirtless during their interview. Make sure you are in a quiet and space where you wouldn’t have to worry about background noises or people walking in the background distracting your interviewer.
Third, be sure to have headphones on since you may not be able to hear what the interviewer is saying. You will want to hear what they are saying and be able to respond clearly.
Fourth, make sure you have a usable computer, phone, tablet that is pointing straight and not looking up at you. Make sure you have a good internet connection as well. I would suggest you run some practice interviews with friends and family over skype so they can help you out with the position and questions. It will definitely make you feel less nervous once you have practiced it several times.
Once you have finished the interview, you should receive an email stating that you have passed. The email you receive will be anywhere between one business day to a week from your interview date. This all varies of course if there are holidays, it may take longer than usual. If you apply directly, your email may be in your junk box so you will need to check this to make sure you have passed. Once you have received the good news, you need to submit your documents and as soon as possible to help guarantee your placement. This is when it becomes a first come first serve basis. The first people who get their documents in are more likely to get placed first.
There are several companies you can ship with, like FedEx, UPS, and DHL. I suggest you pay to get it shipped as soon as possible and be sure to have tracking on your files. It may get stuck in customs and to ship the prices of the documents vary from $40-100 depending on the company. I shipped mine with DHL and it cost me about $53.
You should receive an email from your recruiter or your coordinator letting you know that your documents are good to go and that they will be submitting your documents to Ministry of Educations (MOE) and/or Provincial Offices of Educations (POE).
The next step would then be to receive a confirmation email that will include your location. However, this does not mean you will know where your school will be. You will not know that information until the last day of orientation. You will only know which city or province your school will be in. If you haven’t done your research and are looking for which cities to work in, read more about the best cities in Korea.
Contract, Notice of Appointment, and INSA
This feels like the longest part of the application process. The EPIK process takes a while, but I think now that you know your location preference, you may be starting to worry about when the contract will come and if you will be able to get your visa in time. In order to get the E2 Visa, you will need the contract and notice of appointment. Your coordinator or recruiter should email you confirming your address so they know where to mail out your contract and notice of appointment.
If you have a recruiter like I did, he emailed me a scanned copy of the contract prior to mailing it to me. This gave me some time to review the contract and make sure I knew what I was getting myself into. This contract and notice of appointment are for the visa only. After orientation, you will sign the original contract which will go to your school and you will also have one for your records.
Your INSA will be the information regarding your orientation dates, what dates you should arrive and the address and phone number to write for your visa application regarding your schools or so.
Once you have your contract and notice of appointment, you can then apply for the E2 Visa to work in Korea. You will need to sign the contract on every line at the bottom of the page and fill out the last page. Then you can submit your documents to the closest Korean Consulate. Be sure to read their website for all the directions needed for the visa application. If you are wondering how to fill out the application, be sure to watch EPIK How to Fill out Visa Application. That is the final step and you are finally able to go to Korea. You can submit your documents at the nearest Korean Consulate or mail the documents to them. You will need to provide your contract, notice of appointment, passport and additional passport photo to the Korean Consulate.
Purchase Flights to Korea
The EPIK Program does reimburse you for your flight to Korea. However, some locations list in their contract that you may not be able to receive the reimbursement until you have fulfilled 6 months of the contract. They will reimburse 1,300,000 won for one way and then once you have completed your contract and you decide to leave, they reimburse for the end of your contract another 1,300,000 won. I highly suggest you do not purchase your flight tickets until you have your visa in hand. I only suggest this in case there is a mistake on your application or there is a delay in the visa process. People have not been able to attend because they were unable to get their visa in time before orientation.
After you have booked your flight, you will then attend orientation. Once you have successfully passed orientation and the medical exams, you are now an EPIK teacher for South Korea! Be sure to bring 50,000 won cash with you to pay for the medical exam. During orientation, you will also be expected to do a 15-minute lesson plan demo with a partner. It’s not as daunting as it may seem. There will not be a lot of time available to do it, so I suggest you make sure you make some time after each day to work on it with your partner.
There you have it, the steps to apply to teach English in South Korea. Did you like this post? Please pin and save it for later.
Have any questions? Leave your comments and questions below.