Requirements to teach English in Korea
April 5, 2007 12:03 PM   Subscribe

I want to teach English in Korea. Will my 2:2 degree and slightly patch work history affect my prospects?

Following this question, I've decided to teach English in Korea, unless something else happens to turn up.

From what I've been reading, the qualification you need is a Batchelor's degree, and TEFL qualifications are more or less useless. I graduated 5 years ago with a UK 2:2 degree (not so good). Since then, I have been doing administration and minimum wage jobs, nothing lasting more than 6 months or so, with a couple of unemployed gaps.

Will this affect my chances of getting a job in a decent school? After reading some of the horror stories about dodgy Hagwons (private schools) I'd like to work somewhere reputable. Do Hagwons or public schools even check out your work history?

A couple of biggypacks: any tips on finding a decent school or even recommendations?

Are there any good forums for Korea newbies while esl cafe is closed to registrations?

Any responses also welcomed to koreaq@gmail.com.

Thanks :)
posted by London Irregular to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I can't help you much with Korea beyond saying that yes, you can probably get a job. I'm pretty well versed in teaching in Southeast Asia though, so if you'd like to know more my email's in my profile.
posted by borkingchikapa at 12:15 PM on April 5, 2007


In my experience, no, this will not affect your ability to get a job. Teaching jobs here are a dime a dozen here. Most places specify that they want someone with a degree (any degree, even an associates) who is a native English speaker, but when desperate they'll really take anyone.

The hogwan I briefly worked at only asked for a copy of my diploma, which I never actually ended up getting for them (I would have had to pay for the notarized copy and postage, and I knew the job was temporary, so I didn't). I worked there for three months and they never said a word about it.

That said, even if you get here and your job is shit, it's easy to find another place to work or to take on additional work teaching private lessons. Email is in profile if you'd like me to set you up with some teachers here who can answer your questions.
posted by Brittanie at 3:34 PM on April 5, 2007


I've been here for 7 of the last 11 years.

I don't know what a 2:2 degree is. If you have a four-year degree in anything, you're good to go, though.

Do Hagwons or public schools even check out your work history?

Nope.

Are there any good forums for Korea newbies while esl cafe is closed to registrations?

The expat Korean blog community is large and relentlessly negative, for the most part, but much good info can be gleaned from it. I don't read any of them regularly, as they just get me a bit depressed, to be honest. A good jumping-off point (check out the blogrolls) might be The Marmot or the Lost Nomad, both, like me, long-term residents here in Korea, though. I wrote a long primer on working in Korea quite a while ago for questions like this, which you can find here.

any tips on finding a decent school or even recommendations?

If you get an offer, ask for email addresses for current or recent foreign teachers. If the school sucks, they won't give them to you. If they do, send an email to ask about the real situation there.

Good luck. Some people burn out, freak out, and run away with their hair on fire, but if you keep an open mind, learn a little of the language and culture, and try to actually enjoy the people you meet and are lucky enough to get a reasonable work environment, Korea can be a pretty good place to make a living.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:27 PM on April 5, 2007


god, knowing the bums and sketch-case friends and acquaintances of mine who've gotten jobs teaching in korea and taiwan, i can only imagine you'll be fine. i know that doesn't really help in any specific way, but, anecdotally, they don't seem to be all that picky.
posted by wreckingball at 8:46 PM on April 5, 2007


knowing the bums and sketch-case friends and acquaintances of mine who've gotten jobs teaching in korea and taiwan

Yep, and I actively discourage more of same from coming. We've got enough already.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:01 PM on April 5, 2007


Thanks for the replies chaps. Nice to know I should have no probs. Looks like it's all on then.
posted by London Irregular at 10:17 AM on April 6, 2007


"knowing the bums and sketch-case friends and acquaintances of mine who've gotten jobs teaching in korea and taiwan..."

wow, you read my mind. seconded.
posted by tremspeed at 7:28 PM on April 6, 2007


I agree with most of the above. One other point:

Since then, I have been doing administration and minimum wage jobs, nothing lasting more than 6 months or so, with a couple of unemployed gaps.

Were I recruiting you, I'd want to know exactly why six months has been your maximum. Korea is tough for almost everyone and many teachers think about giving up in their first year. Teaching English is another job, with plenty of stress and plenty of tedium. Once you quit your job here, your visa is no longer valid and you have to leave the country - future job hunting will have to be done on a tourist visa.

Apologies if that sounds patronising, but I'd rather piss you off needlessly now than find you posting here in four months to ask about the cheapest way to fly from Incheon to Heathrow.

A couple of biggypacks: any tips on finding a decent school or even recommendations?

Do they seem professional? Are they fussy about paperwork or just keen on getting you over ASAP? Are they interested in your aptitude for teaching and your ability to deal with a different culture? Do they ask difficult questions to try to check you're suitable for the job or are they suspiciously keen to take you on from the start?

These things can be clues, although there aren't many schools who will be quite as careful as all that.

I also know of a recruiting agency who I believe to be honest. I haven't used them myself, so won't name them here, but if you email me I'll give you the URL.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 9:16 AM on April 9, 2007


A couple of biggypacks: any tips on finding a decent school or even recommendations?
While finding a job in a hagwon is easier to do and can be more free in terms of commitments, I would whole-heartedly advise to find a job at a public school. I taught for a year at a public junior high in GyeonggiDo (the largest province in Korea) and couldn't have had a better time. Most of the people I knew (>20) teaching in the public school system also loved it. Lots of freedom in what you can teach; more vacations; sometimes better pay; tons of time off at school; plus you're working for the government so you can't get fired at the drop of the hat and get pension! I did it through gepik. warning:horrible site You can also try looking at HiTeacher, as they have tons of job postings, though I have no experience with them.
A public school will require a copy of a diploma, but I'm pretty sure they're not that restrictive in terms of education experience. Also, as far as I know, they don't give a crap about previous job history but may need some references to ensure that you're okay working around children.
I know I posted this too late. If you have any more questions, email's in the profile.
posted by shokod at 1:57 AM on April 19, 2007


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