Guide to teaching in Korea: Part 1 Where to teach

The first semester is starting in less than a month and there will be many new English teachers throughout Korea. If you’ve ever wanted to teach in Korea, now is the time to apply for teaching in the fall. Just how do you get started? Read on to get a step by step guide. 

Where to teach? 

In Korea, you have two options to choose from. If you’re looking to teach in a public school, there are two programs: TaLK and EPIK. 

TaLK Program

Teach and Learn in Korea provides you with an educational scholarship to teach 15 hours a week. You work in one to two elementary schools and placements are in rural areas of Korea. 

One of the unique aspects of the program is that you can apply for the program as long as you’ve completed your Associate’s Degree or have completed at least two years in your Bachelor’s Degree Program. 

This can be a good option if you want to take a gap year from your Bachelor’s or if you have already completed your degree program and are new to teaching. 

To be eligible for TaLK, and also its sister program EPIK, you have to be a citizen of either the US, UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. If you want to teach English but don’t fall under one of these countries, you would want to explore the private institution (Hagwon) option. 

If you want to learn more about TaLK you can take a look at this article about my experience in the program or visit the TaLK website.

Learn about the program, find resources, and apply for the program online


For those looking to teach abroad in South Korea full-time, the English Program in Korea (EPIK) is sponsored by the Korean Ministry of Education. 

Locations can vary between metropolitan and provincial areas with pay typically being higher in rural areas to encourage teachers to go there. 

While the TaLK program focuses mainly on the after-school English program, EPIK teachers will typically teach curriculum classes around 22 hours each week.

Another difference is that you can teach either elementary, middle, or high school depending on your placement. 

You can get additional information about the EPIK program and apply online at their website. 

The sister program to TaLK

Hagwons/Private English Institutes

The last option for those looking to teach in Korea outside of EPIK is a hagwon. These private academies teach students outside of normal school hours and is a multi-million dollar industry in Korea. 

There are also hagwons that provide English classes for adults and businesses so you have some more flexibility in the types of students that you have. 

Since hagwons aren’t regulated as heavily as public schools, your experience can vary between schools. While public schools typically hire teachers in the fall or spring terms, hagwons will hire throughout the year. 

This can be a good option if you’re looking to get to Korea quicker. Hagwons are located throughout Korea so you can choose a location based on where you want to live. Typically with TaLK and EPIK you don’t get to choose where you’re teaching and can be a disadvantage for some teachers. 

Class sizes for hagwons are generally smaller than what you would experience in a public school. Depending on the hagwon, you might have a co teacher, but you generally will be working alone. 

In terms of your teaching schedule, since many hagwons operate outside of normal school hours, you could be teaching in the afternoons/evenings and even on some weekends as well. 

Another consideration is the contract you get with a hagwon. EPIK and TaLK provide specific guidelines on accommodations, airfare reimbursement, and teaching expectations that are generally the same between schools. 

When applying for a hagwon, these will vary between academies. You will want to take a look at items such as overtime, accomodations, teaching/work expectations, and salary. 

You don’t have to settle for the first hagwon you find, and you should interview with a few hagwons to find the best fit for you. 

The best place to find hagwon jobs in Korea is Dave’s ESL Cafe. You can find job listings along with resources for teaching and living in Korea and other locations around the world. 

A resource for teaching in Korea and abroad

Alternatively you can also work with a recruiter, but with some research you can find your way to teach English in South Korea. 

Next time

What do you need to teach English in Korea? Next time we’ll go over the requirements and documents you need to gather so that you can teach in Korea soon. 

Do you have any other resources that you used to teach in Korea? Comment below and I will try to update the article so that it can help others as well.

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