How To Teach English Abroad With EPIK Korea
I’ve been living in South Korea for nearly 10 years, and it’s been a decade of amazing adventures. I’m thankful to have the chance to experience this beautiful country, something I could only manage to do by teaching English to Korean students. If you’re a citizen of an English-speaking country, you can also make a living in the same way. It’s possible to find a teaching job through the Korean Ministry of Education’s English Program in Korea, also called EPIK Korea.
What Is EPIK Korea?
South Korea’s EPIK teaching program is an initiative from the National Institute for International Education Development, an arm of Korea’s Ministry of Education. The program’s primary mission is to improve the English communication skills of primary and secondary students. Its secondary goals include the development of new teaching materials and methodologies, as well as facilitating cultural exchanges between international teachers, Korean faculty, and students.
EPIK Korea gives trained and certified English teachers the opportunity to immerse themselves in Korean culture while earning a steady pay, something I’ve been blessed to do. In addition to soaking up all the wonders of Korea, I also enjoy adding a bit of international flavor to my teaching job!
Since EPIK Korea is the best source of placements for international English teachers in the country, I get a lot of questions about the program. My answers have become so practiced that I’ve decided to write them down for the benefit of others interested in exploring a similar path.
Is it hard to get into EPIK Korea?
No, it isn’t too hard to start teaching English with EPIK as long as you have the required certification and are a citizen of the program’s officially recognized English-speaking countries. There is a high demand for good English teachers which benefits those with the right qualifications.
What is the EPIK acceptance rate?
South Korea’s EPIK initiative has not released any official figures regarding the number of foreign teachers it has placed since 2018. However, they did share that they placed 1,324 EPIK teachers in schools during the spring and fall terms of 2018. In 2023, the program continues to attract thousands of applicants.
The popularity of EPIK Korea teaching jobs has led to a highly competitive environment. Since EPIK applications are submitted through three channels (the EPIK office, MOU/MOA organizations, and recruitment agencies), it’s hard to guess how many applicants there are each year. However, Korvia Consulting, one of the two recruitment agencies officially recognized by EPIK, estimates that between 70% to 80% of initial applications are approved during the interviews.
Of course, a good interview will ultimately decide whether or not a candidate lands the job. I’d say it’s better to prepare your application in advance and be ready to submit it as soon as intake begins. I wouldn’t want you to miss the deadline for submissions and consequently lose out on amazing teaching opportunities in Korea!
What countries are recognized by EPIK Korea?
Korea’s EPIK teaching initiative began with American teachers in 1995. Eventually, the program grew to include citizens of countries where English is the primary language. The current list of countries recognized by EPIK Korea includes:
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
- United States of America
- South Africa
In 2010, the governments of India and South Korea signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). One of the provisions of this agreement is that Indian citizens can also apply for EPIK Korea teaching positions. They can do so as long as they meet all other eligibility requirements and hold a valid teaching certificate in addition to a TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate.
EPIK Eligibility and Requirements
When you take on an EPIK South Korea teaching job, you’re signing up for a lot more than just school life. I quickly realized that the classroom only took up a few hours of my day. I was free to do what I wished for the rest, and I spent it diving headfirst into everything Korea had to offer! That’s why I feel the most important quality that you need when applying to EPIK Korea is the willingness to explore and adapt to the local culture and customs.
Apart from being mentally prepared to navigate a new country, there are a few other requirements for applying to EPIK.
Be a Native English Speaker
As mentioned above, only teachers from officially recognized English-speaking countries can apply to EPIK Korea. Even then, there are certain qualifications. For instance, if you come from Quebec, Canada, where French is an official language, or from South African states that speak Afrikaans, you need to provide a certificate proving that your schooling after Grade 7 was conducted in English.
Hold a Bachelor’s Degree or Higher
You absolutely need at least a Bachelor’s degree to teach through EPIK Korea. Those with B.Ed, M.Ed, or other education-focused majors can apply without needing a TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate. But if your bachelor’s degree is in a field that’s unrelated to teaching, you will need a TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate from an accredited organization.
Have No Criminal Record
Since EPIK is overseen by the South Korean government, they only want candidates without any criminal records. Failure to disclose past convictions will disqualify you from the program.
Meet the Requirements of the Korean E2 Visa
All EPIK Korea teachers need an E2 visa to work in the country. You only have to apply for the visa after you’ve been assigned a position by the program.
Be In Good Physical and Mental Health
This point is pretty self-explanatory. Teaching requires physical and mental stamina since endurance and vitality play an important role in helping you excel at what you do.
(Of course, being healthy also allows you to explore more of Korea’s natural beauty. For example, I’ve enjoyed many beautiful hikes and visits to its scenic islands during my time here.)
Be Under 62 Years of Age
Unlike English teaching programs in other countries like Japan where there is a strict age limit of 40 years, South Korea’s EPIK teaching program has a relatively high cutoff age of 62.
Reasons To Teach With EPIK Korea
I believe teaching English in foreign countries has opened up brand new horizons for me. That will always be the first answer I give whenever I’m asked why someone should participate in the EPIK program. You get to enjoy novel experiences, explore a new country, and meet new people—all while doing work that matters!
But I’m also a practical person and I know the next question is often, “How much can you make teaching English in South Korea?” Well, let me tell you that EPIK Korea is a well-paying job that is funded by the South Korean government. In addition to earning a competitive salary, you can expect to be paid on time every month without worrying about budgetary constraints.
Along with your base salary, EPIK Korea teaching positions come with a lot of benefits.
- You receive a settlement allowance of 300,000 KRW within the first month of your contract.
- When you successfully complete a contract, you receive severance pay worth one month’s salary.
- EPIK teachers receive an entrance allowance of 1,800,000 KRW and a contract completion bonus of 1,300,000 KRW at the beginning and end of their contracts.
- For teachers who renew their contracts, EPIK Korea offers a renewal bonus of 700,000 KRW.
- Housing is provided through the program.
- Fifty percent of your medical insurance premiums will be paid by your employer.
South Korea’s EPIK is the perfect choice for somebody looking for new life experiences, steady employment, and financial benefits.
Programs Similar To EPIK Korea
In South Korea, EPIK is currently the only government-sponsored teaching program. However, there are similar offerings that are local to the
Additionally, Korea isn’t your only option for teaching English abroad. Similar government-run programs also exist in other Asian countries. The Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) program and China’s English First (EF) are two popular options among English teachers.
An EPIK Adventure
The Korean and English languages are drastically different. I should know, given my effort at learning Korean when I moved here! While I was learning the local language at the neighborhood YMCA, I was also able to give back by teaching English to Korean kindergarten students and grade schoolers. EPIK Korea gives you the opportunity to grow as an individual and a teacher!
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