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How to Find a Job Teaching English in Korea ?

  1. Research the job market  
Visit the Korea job cites on the internet(i.e Dave's ESL Cafe, Work n Play etc) Examine the job posting and make yourself a spreadsheet detailing the location, salary, and hours of jobs you are interested in. Do some research on Korea's geography. Where do you want to live? In the heart of the country (Seoul!) or down south near the ocean (Busan!)? I would try to find 10 job offers, then try to slowly eliminate the ones you don't want as you find out more about each school or location. Typically, jobs farther away from Seoul pay more. However, it's up to you to decide about where you want to live and teach.

  2. Once you've limited your choices down to 5 schools or so, apply to all of them.
You should have a polished resume and cover letter, along with a nice digital photo of yourself. Don't ask me why, but most companies want to see pictures of their teachers before hiring them. Ensure that your photo doesn't have any visible food showing in your teeth.

  3. Dave's ESL Cafe: Korea Job Forums - This is where you will do more research on finding out about your school and the area you would possible live in. First things first, register for the forums (this will take a couple days) so you can message other members. I shall give you a warning about the Korea forums on Dave's ESL Cafe...this is an arena where many people voice their frustrations with living and teaching in Korea.
There can be an air of negativity that can ruin your image of Korea--IGNORE it and move along. Take everything you read with a grain of salt. There are rotten apples in every bunch, so the big whiners out there should just hop on a plane and fly home! Nobody is forcing them to teach or live in Korea!
Here you should be using the SEARCH function to find out more about the area and even about the name of your particular school.

  4. Hopefully you will get a job offer, and when you do, hit up the forums on Dave's to find out more. Use the SEARCH function once again and if you find nothing, start a new thread asking for more information about your school (this is where the registration comes in handy). Better yet, take advantage of Google and start digging for more info about the area and school. Find Korea blogs with teachers living in the area and politely email them to find out more.

  5. Negotiate with your employer -
Your salary can be negotiable depending on your education and teaching experience. Talk about salary, accommodation, and anything else on your mind. I mentioned we were able to get a queen size bed instead of a double and we also got flights out of Victoria instead of Vancouver. Will they pick you up at the airport? Will you work overtime (don't do it, unless you want more money!)? There's no harm in asking!
Also, ask for teacher references of teachers currently at the school. Ask for an email address and email the teachers to find out more info. This is a vital step and can come in handy.

  6. Research, research, research
Continue to find out more information about the area and school. Use Google Earth to try and locate where you will be living. Some of my readers have done this to ensure that the location they will be is relatively close to a Costco (you know who you are). So doing your homework will pay off.

Teach English In Korea

  Many English teachers have enjoyed their experiences in Korea. The key to happy and fruitful employment as a language instructor in Korea is to be employed by a reputable school and to negotiate a well-written contract before leaving home.

Most English teachers work in private foreign language institutes (hakwon). There are, however, positions available in several types of institutions:

Hakwons
Corporate in-house language programs
Universities
Government / private research centers
Editing, public relations, advertising companies
Private teaching

Hakwons
Private language institutes are found all over Korea. Some institutes are well-known with many branches while others are small and short-lived. The ESL teaching market in Korea is extremely competitive and many institutes fail. Most hakwons employ a number of instructors for conversation and occasionally for writing classes. The typical employee can expect to work 20 to 30 hours per week. The majority of classes are conducted early in the morning and in the evening, so many instructors have free time in the afternoons. Most classes have between 10 to 25 students. Pupils may be grade school or college students, or businessmen who are contemplating overseas assignments. Some of the better institutes will provide housing for instructors. The average salary is currently about 1.5 million won per month.

Corporate in-house language programs
Most large corporate groups (chaebol) have their own in-house programs. The typical instructor can expect to teach more than 30 hours per week, teaching all day from early in the morning to late at night. Most are intensive residential programs where the students study for 3 to 6 months. Some employers provide full benefits including housing, but the instructor may be required to either live on campus or commute long distances from Seoul. The average salary for these institutes is currently between 1.5 to 2 million won per month.

Universities
LANGUAGE INSTITUTES

Major universities in Seoul, as well as some provincial universities, operate foreign language institutes. Some pupils are university students, but the majority of students are business people. These institutes tend to have the highest hiring standards in Korea, and most instructors have M.A degrees in TESOL, and years of teaching experience. The pay, status and benefits offered by these institutes are among the best in Korea. As a result there is very low turnover.

UNIVERSITY DEPARTMENTS

Most universities in Korea employ full-time English conversation instructors. University classes tend to be large, with little personal contact with the students. Most instructors teach between 10 to 15 hours per week. Academic standards in Korean universities tend to be somewhat lax. Leftist, nationalistic and sometimes anti-American attitudes may prevail among some students. Most universities in Seoul do not provide housing, and some do not provide the benefits required by law. Monthly salaries currently tend to run about 1 million won per month, with 3 to 4 months of paid vacation per year.

Provincial universities generally provide better housing, working conditions and salaries, and tend to treat foreign instructors as part of the faculty. The better working conditions, however, should be balanced against the cultural isolation a foreigner may encounter living in the Korean countryside.

Government / private research centers
Many government agencies and some private companies operate research institutes. Most of these institutes hire foreigners who have degrees in humanities, economics or business administration as full-time editors. Editors proofread correspondence and research publications, write speeches, and occasionally teach. Most institutes pay quite well, and some provide housing. Because these institutes tend to be government-run or closely affiliated with powerful corporate groups, their instructors seldom experience problems in obtaining work visas.

Editing, public relations, advertising companies
Quite a few public relations and advertising companies in Korea hire foreigners to work as copy editors, and occasionally as teachers. These positions are very hard to obtain as they are quite popular with the resident English-teaching community. There are also opportunities to appear on television programs, movies and radio. Most of these positions pay quite well and some provide housing assistance.

Private teaching
Many full-time English teachers teach part-time as well, either at another institute or with privately arranged classes. Many full-time contracts stipulate that teachers are not to take on additional private work. Many English teachers however do take on private students. Part-time instruction at a second institute is legal only with permission from the sponsoring institute and Korean immigration authorities. Private students pay more per hour, but some instructors have found it hard to maintain long-term private classes. One should arrange for private lesson fees to be paid prior to each class. The Embassy reminds English teachers that they are personally responsible for any violations of Korean teaching and immigration law they might commit.

Taxes
The tax year in Korea is from June 1 to May 31. The tax rate is from 5 to 10%.
Most foreign employees are required to pay Korean income taxes, which are generally withheld and paid by the employer. Teachers working for colleges or universities are sometimes entitled to an exemption from paying Korean taxes for up to 2 years due to tax treaties.
The Tax Office maintains a list of institutes that are tax exempt. This provision applies only to teachers employed at universities, research centers, or university operated institutes. The General Affairs section of the university or research centre should be able to apply for the exemption. If the institute wrongly withholds taxes, it is required to pay a refund. Teachers at hakwons and at private companies have to pay taxes.

Contracts
English teachers in Korea occasionally have contract disputes with their employers. In the Korean context, a contract is simply a rough working agreement, subject to change depending upon the circumstances. Most Koreans do not view deviations from a contract as a breach of contract, and few Koreans would consider taking an employer to court over a contract dispute.

Instead, Koreans tend to view contracts as always being flexible and subject to further negotiation. Culturally, the written contract is not the real contract; the unwritten, oral agreement that one has with one's employer is the real contract. However, many employers will view a contract violation by a foreign worker as serious, and will renege on verbal promises if they feel they can. Any contract should be signed with these factors in mind.

Basic features of a contract should included the following provisions:

Salary
Housing
Airline tickets
Working hours
Class sizes
Severance pay
Taxes
Medical insurance
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