When I started this process, I thought the hardest part was going to be the application and interview–basically, getting accepted into the EPIK Program. It turns out, the hardest part actually comes after you get your acceptance. It’s being able to obtain and mail all your documents within a short window. Even if EPIK formally extends you an offer of acceptance, it doesn’t mean you have a job. Why? Because you can’t officially be placed at a school until they physically have all your documents. Every year, EPIK seems to accept more teachers than there are positions, because it’s expected that many teachers fall out of the hiring process. This is what makes the hiring process “competitive.” The only way to secure your placement at a school is to submit your documents immediately after you accept the EPIK job offer. Now, it doesn’t mean you hastily submit your documents without thoroughly reviewing them. One mistake in your application or 1 missing business card, could delay your placement for weeks. My advice: be extremely tedious with everything and when in doubt, always ask questions.
Applicants must meet all of the following eligibility requirements:
1. Citizenship from 1 of the considered 7 Native English-Speaking countries: Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States, or South Africa.
2. Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. An Associate degree does not qualify, but an Associate degree or minimum of 2 completed years at a university will make you eligible for the TaLK Program: http://www.talk.go.kr
3. Teaching license or teaching major or a TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA Certificate (with 100 course hours and 20 practicum hours) This final requirement might seem like a deal breaker, but in reality, a TEFL certificate is not difficult to obtain. This is the preferred teaching certificate in South Korea at the moment, although all are recognized. I obtained mine in about 3 months via an online course and a 2 days of practicum in Los Angeles. Honestly, I could have probably completed the course in under a month if I allocated my time more wisely. As for recommendations, I only completed one certificate program, so it’s the only one I can speak to. I have nothing to compare it to, but I can share with you my likes and dislikes in another post. For now, I’ll leave you with some tips to help you narrow down the right program for you.
- Tip 1. Online or in-class setting? This is truly up to you. I was working at the time, so I opted for the online course, but it was hard to focus with all the distractions at home. If you do the online course remember that no one will push you to do it and the course has an expiration, so there’s a higher chance of you failing the course if you wait until last minute to do the tests at the end of each chapter. If you have the time, I would definitely recommend looking into the in-class courses, especially if you tend to procrastinate or struggle to manage your time effectively.
- Tip 2. Length? I would be cautious of programs under 3 months. If their program is incredibly short, then you won’t receive a beneficial training that will prepare you to teach in Korea. I’m sure you also don’t want to get scammed.
- Tip 3. Testimonies? Don’t rely on their published testimonies. Many businesses post “testimonies” on their site or other forums. Make sure to review multiple sources for reviews on the program and the company that’s offering the course. Enter keywords such as “scam” or “fraud” in your search.
- Tip 4. Recruiter? If you’re going with a recruiter or agency ask them for recommendations. Most likely, they will guide you in the right direction.
- Tip 5. Accreditation? Although many businesses will claim that they are accredited, there is no single accrediting official body for TEFL. Instead, check the certifying program’s sponsorships. What organizations sponsor them? Are they unknown? Are they legitimate organizations?
For the last couple years, I’ve been working at a reputable nonprofit in Orange County. In fact, I really really like my job and a lot of my coworkers have become my friends. And my boss is the best! I worked really hard and it paid off, because my boss recently promoted me to Recruiter. Woohoo!! All the stars were aligning… but then a recruiter contacted me about an application I had submitted last year to teach English abroad.
At first, I was thinking, no way! I just got promoted. And my team needs me. They need me right? Then I thought, working abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Am I really gonna turn down this opportunity to travel overseas?
Truth is, it’s been my dream to live abroad, specifically in South Korea, since high school. Yes, high school is when I missed out on an internship opportunity with the Ambassador to live in Seoul through a Korean Exchange Program. Why? Because I was an idiot. I was a naive teenager and at the time, I allowed other people to make my decisions for me. Ultimately, I passed on the internship, because I decided not to miss out on a less important affair… High School Prom. Ugh… can you believe? Perhaps it wasn’t my time. Fast forward 7 years to the present and here we are again. Do I resign from my current position as a Recruitment Specialist from headquarters to fulfill my curiosity for Korean culture and appetite for travel? Or, do I focus on what’s already in front of me so I can develop myself into a respectable career professional (or so I can finally afford rent in the OC)?
I never thought of myself as a risk taker, but after weeks of thinking it over and discussing the big jump with some of my friends, I’ve finally made up my mind. Ohhh yes… I’ve decided to embark on a new journey, roughly 6,000 miles away from California. Home to Samsung, soju, and spicy fermented cabbage, how could I not choose to live, teach, and travel South Korea?