A post about the different teaching options in Korea
What? There’s more than one option? Yup- there’s actually quite a lot of options for teaching in Korea.
The first, and most sought after is the EPIK program. This is a Government initiative for foreign/second language teacher to teach English at a Korean Public School. This option is very safe. You are ensured of a full orientation program, and an agent who will be with you every step of the way. You have a 100% secure placement in a school of good standing, and will have regular working hours, great benefits and a steady salary. Other programs which falls in the EPIK category is GEPIK ( GEPIK is the Gyeonggi-do school division’s English program) and SMOE (Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education’s program). The downside to this program is that the application process is quite tedious, you have to had certain grades at University , you must submit proof that you are a native English speaker by giving letters from your school to say that your language of education was English. You can go read more about the public school programs on the EPIK website.
There are loads of mixed opinions out there about teaching for a public school vs. a private school/academy. It is not my job to persuade you to join a certain side of the argument, not do I wish to pick a side myself. I want to provide you with the info and you will know which road to follow and what suits your personality and personal preferences.
So now we move on the the private academies. These are called Hagwons. They are there to teach, but since it is not a government institution- they are also there to make money. This causes some problems, like for instance bankruptcy. You do not want to be in the position where you don’t get paid and sit without a job in a foreign country. Some Hagwons are not individually owned, and there are ‘chains’ to be found across the country. These schools have a smaller chance of bankruptcy. There are some very nice upsides to teaching at a Hagwon, like sleeping late…classes usually begins later in the day since some students attend the Hagwons like we would attend after school (extra lessons) here in RSA. The Hagwons are usually well equipped with the tools needed to teach and you will also have more freedom in your own classroom instead of playing the role of teaching assistant to a native Korean teacher. Hagwons have very good technology and resources, since this is one of the biggest attraction for parents to enroll their child(ren) in such a school. A good rule of thumb to follow when taking the Hagwon road is to have a recruiter with experience placing teachers at that specific school, and also to speak with the previous teacher. When your recruiter tells you about a possible job, go check whether that school has been blacklisted at this link: Hagwon blacklist before signing any contracts. There are up and downsides to Hagwons, do not make your mind up to fast, and do not discard the idea either. As long as you do proper research, you will do just fine in a Hagwon job.
So, there you have it. You just need to decide now- Will you go private, or public?
Heads up: The next post will talk about recruiters and other useful resources.