Teaching English as a second language in Korea is a great way to travel, save money, and learn about yourself and the world. Not convinced? Check out the following 10 reasons to teach English in Korea.
Here are some basis info that you may need to know.
- South Korea Currency: Won
1 US Dollar equals to 1071.40 South Korean Won
- Capital: Seoul
- National anthem: Aegukga
1. Saving money
Whether you’re working at a higher paying hogwan (private school), or lower paying public school, you’ll still be making enough money to easily send a thousand dollars a month to your bank back home. The base salary isn’t that high – about $1900 a month at public schools, but they take care of your housing and health insurance.
This pay is significantly higher than many other countries with a thriving ESL market.
2. Job market
With the economy still struggling in many parts of the world, teaching English in Korea is a simple way to get a full-time, non-minimum wage job. The only requirement to teach English in Korea is that you are a native English speaker with a college degree. Yes, that means you, liberal arts majors.
3. Korean culture
Korean culture is pretty interesting to experience. Koreans are sweet and hospitable, as well as hard-working and constantly busy. Like many countries, Korea is seeing huge generational differences between its older and younger generation, and is struggling to balance its traditionally conservative values with modern ideals. Koreans have a Confucianist group-mentality approach to a lot of things, but value an individualistic drive to succeed.
4. Expat community
Because teaching English is such a great opportunity, there are tons of expats in Korea from all over the world. There are also non-ESL teaching expats living in Korea on other business. Because of the significant expat population, there are lots of opportunities to meet other English speakers. You can join a writing club, a photography group, a sports team, or check out a number of different types of meetups online. Since expats are a minority in the country, they tend to form tight nit friendship circles, and, in a community where people constantly arrive and depart, it’s easy to plug right in.
5. Low stress job
Alright – I’m going to be honest here. Not all the ESL jobs in Korea are low stress – in fact, most of the hagwon (private school) jobs have a lot of pressure from students’ parents to succeed. However, the public school jobs are generally shorter hours (40 a week), with only around half of the hours spent teaching. This means you get a ton of preparation time in school and never bring work home. Actually, what usually happens is you have an excess of free time at school, fondly referred to as “desk warming” where you spend hours surfing the internet. (This happens a lot on school breaks where you are required to come in, but have no classes).
6. The food
Korean food is delicious, and has something for everyone. (Though being a vegetarian or vegan is trickier than it would be in a country where those choices are more common.) Inexpensive and filling Korean restaurants are on every corner, ready to fill you up with hot soups and fabulous barbeques. There is lots of rice and a sushi-like dish (kimbap) for the less adventurous. For the more adventurous: there’s always the option of octopus that is cooked live in front of you.
If you love traveling on short vacations, why not go the whole way and move to Korea for a year? Living overseas allows you to see the side of a country that you can’t experience on vacation. Also, living in Korea means easier access for traveling to nearby Asian countries. Lots of ESL teachers visit Thailand, Japan, and Cambodia on their vacations.
8. Stretching yourself
Get out of your comfort zone! Moving somewhere new is a great way to stretch yourself and discover different aspects of your personality. It’s also a great way to see what you’re capable of – navigating through a non-English speaking country can be an exciting (and exhausting) challenge. You only have one life to live – why not add as many experiences as you can?
9. Nice lifestyle
The expat life in Korea is pretty sweet. Public Schools give you 20 paid vacation days per year and all the public holidays. You are earning enough to afford to go out and sing your heart out at the private karoake rooms (noreabongs), or have nice meals with your friends. You have resources to go on in-country trips and adventures with other expats. Healthcare is cheap. Eating out is cheap. There are lots of festivals, monasteries, and quaint towns to keep you busy for a long time.
Crime is relatively low in Korea. Walking around at night, even as a single girl, feels completely safe. People leave their stuff around and don’t worry about it being stolen. When you go to bed at night, you can sleep securely – which cannot be said for many places.
Every place has its positives and drawbacks, and the previous list is not intended as an exclusive guide to life in Korea. People in Korea get homesick, have difficulty adjusting, have problems with work, etc. However, in general, if you are the type of person who loves to travel, and is seriously considering an international move – Korea is a great place to go and teach english.