How can I teach English in Korea?


Teaching English is one of the most popular and easy ways for expats to work and live in Korea. Unfortunately, there are restrictions on who can teach English, so we’ll explore other ways that you can work in Korea in one of our future articles. 

Which Countries Can Teach English in Korea? 

One of the major requirements to teach English in Korea is to have a passport from one of seven major English-speaking countries. These include Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, the UK, and the US. 

Other Requirements 

  • Clean criminal background check 
  • Bachelor’s degree (doesn’t have to be in English or education) 
  • For public school programs, if you don’t have an education degree, you need to get a TEFL certificate

Types of Schools to Teach English in Korea

These cover the most basic options available. Other schools such as international schools and university positions have other requirements and experience not covered in this article. 


Hagwons are private academies that typically provide after-school classes for students ranging from elementary school up to high school. As an English teacher, you’ll typically be teaching elementary and middle school students. 


One of the main advantages of teaching at a hagwon is that you can choose the city. If you’re looking to live in Seoul, a hagwon is going to be your best option. The hours will typically be in the afternoons and evenings, with some operating on weekends as well. 

Public Schools

EPIK is the largest program for those looking to teach in one of Korea’s public schools. Most of the contracts are elementary and middle schools, but I have heard of some teachers working at high schools as well. Some provinces also run their own recruiting such as CNOE. Over the years, EPIK has taken on more of the schools, so provincial programs are shrinking. 

One of the main “complaints” of the EPIK program is that you don’t have a choice of where you’ll get placed. When you receive your contract, it will typically tell you the province that you’re in. Once training/orientation is over, you’ll find out your main school and head off to your province. 


As an EPIK teacher, you will typically teach at 2-4 schools (it varies depending on your city) and have around 22 teaching hours a week. You primarily help with curriculum classes, but some schools also have EPIK teachers assist with their afterschool English program. 


Unlike hagwons, contracts/benefits are standardized across different provinces. The actual experience with your school can vary, but typically the previous teacher will leave some documentation on their experience at the school. 

Contracts and Visas

For almost all English teachers, you will hold an E-2 visa for teaching conversational English. The E-2 visa is tied to your school/employer, which means that you can’t take outside jobs or other forms of employment (there are some cases with hagwons where you may get permission). 


Contracts will generally be for a year (12 months) and you will need to visit your local immigration office each year to renew your visa. Many schools will take you to handle the process during your first time. If you have changes such as a new address or passport, these also need to be reported to the immigration office. Without your visa, you can’t legally work in Korea and can face fines for not renewing it on time. 


Public schools will reimburse you for incoming and outgoing flights up to a certain amount. Most hagwons will also offer at least a one-way ticket or reimbursement as well. Another benefit that comes with teaching is your accommodations. 


Public schools and hagwons will usually provide you with an apartment near your school. You can also get a housing allowance in place of accommodations, but it’s typically recommended to stay in the housing provided by your school. In Korea, to rent an apartment, you usually need to provide a large deposit and have to handle the realtor on your own. 

Next Steps

If you’re interested in finding a job to teach English in Korea, you can start your search at sites such as Dave’s ESL cafe, Facebook, and other websites. You can find more information about the EPIK program here as well. 

If you have any questions, you can let us know in the comments below. What other jobs in Korea do you want to see us cover next? 

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