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Your Guide to ESL Teaching in South Korea

Wondering where your TESOL certification can take you? How about starting your journey as an English teacher abroad! Overseas teaching offers memorable cultural experiences while also serving the community. As one of the greatest continents for TEFL teaching opportunities, Asia is on the top of the list to consider when searching for employment, with one of the most popular teaching destinations being South Korea.

Why Teach in South Korea?

From its fishing villages to bustling metropolises, South Korea is a land of innovation, friendly people, flavoursome food and beauty, boasting centuries-old Buddhist temples, blossoming cherry trees and hilly vistas. This charming country will easily sweep you off your feet!

Education is of primary focus in South Korea, and learning English is considered very important to Koreans. They regard having the ability to speak English as an avenue to greater employment opportunities or entering better universities. Therefore, the ESL market is competitive; hence, the numerous opportunities to teach English.

In South Korea, you’ll have options to teach in either public or private schools. Public schools have a stricter accepting process. Private schools, known as hagwons, are businesses that offer ESL jobs perfect for those seeking to teach in a structured environment, gain valuable experience and save money. 

Earning Potential 

As an ESL teacher in South Korea, your salary will range according to your teaching TEFL certification (TESOL, TEFL, CELTA, etc.), teaching experience and other educational qualifications (e.g. Bachelor’s degree) you may have. Depending in what city your school is situated, a starting salary can average between 2.1-2.3 million KRW (approximately 1500-1900 USD), and up to 2.7+ million KRW (approximately 2300 USD) for more English teaching experience. 

Cost of Living

Depending on where you come from and fluctuating currency exchange rates, you may find South Korea comparable or cheaper to your current living expenses. If you come from South Africa, expect some products to be more expensive, such as produce. If you desire to maintain a Western lifestyle, increase your food budget by 25,000 KRW. If you adapt to a Korean lifestyle, your wallet will smile with a budget between 8,000- 15,000 KRW for a plate of food.

English teachers are in significant demand in South Korea, so many job offers may potentially include covering your travel expenses, free/subsidized living quarters, medical insurance, paid vacation days, or other stipends. 

Visa Requirement

To teach in South Korea, an E2 Visa is required for teachers employed by private language schools. Contact the Korean Embassy in your place of residence for more information to apply for the correct visa. Please bear in mind that due to COVID-19, there may be new required documents and longer processing times.

How to Find TEFL Jobs in South Korea

It’s best to seek assistance from a reputable recruiter, many of whom can be found online. Recruiters are active on many social media groups, often posting TEFL opportunities on these platforms. Word of caution: do your research, whichever avenue you choose.

Eager to start teaching abroad? Check out our variety of specialisation courses, including online TEFL courses, that will prepare you for your dream job as an English teacher in South Korea!