Education is the key to success in life, and teachers make a lasting impact in the lives of their students. – Solomon Ortiz
Living and having worked in Korea as an English Teacher and Private Tutor, I cannot tell you how many requests from friends that are interested in coming to Korea to teach, and therefore, I thought the easiest way would be to write a blog about this. First of all, I have taught in Public Schools, Private Schools, Hagwons (학원) aka Private English Academies, and of course the Private Tutoring, which again you MUST be LEGAL in order to work as a private tutor. Just recently–January 2015–I read that in Thailand the government is cracking down and arrested 17 Foreigners that were charging and teaching English ILLEGALLY. Therefore you MUST go through the proper legal channels and processing. I feel that from experience teaching in every level including all ages–kindergarten (as young as 3-years-old) to CEOs in their 50s and older–hence the reason why I feel that I am an experienced expert on this particular subject. I should also mention that I have been living and teaching English in Seoul for more than a year and have dealt with direct owners of Private Schools, recruiters, etc. I also have a F4 Visa status, which is highly coveted–I've noticed when talking and hanging out with other foreign teachers here–because most are only allowed an E2 Visa, which carries restrictions. Therefore beyond my list of documents and suggestions below DO YOUR HOMEWORK — AND — HAVE A CONTINGENCY PLAN, just in case of a family emergency that may require you to leave suddenly (this can be costly of course), what savings or experience do you have? IF you decide you don't want to fulfill the typical one-year contract, WHAT will you do? And etc. and etc. and etc.
1. VALID PASSPORT
● Passport must be valid for a minimum of 12 months upon your expected date of entry.
● You will need at minimum one free or blank visa page
3. OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPTS
● Since there are public and private schools, plus the Hagwons you may or may not be required to submit your University transcript (official or unofficial). Types of schools
● Understand BY DOING YOUR RESEARCH what the difference in these three types of education programs are and ASK a lot of questions.
5. KOREAN-STYLE RESUME
● Take time to create a NEW resume not just updated, because things that as Americans or others from their home country would consider illegal questions or submissions for employment are not (i.e. current photo attached on your resume, plus heavily emphasize education and certificates more than experience (non-education related)
7. HEALTH CHECK UP
● An updated health check is a requirement for most school, you can download or view an example form below.
9. APPLICATION / CONTRACT
● CAREFULLY review your contract and/or application and have this IN WRITING (via email or hard copy)
● Some questions to ask: Housing provided or housing allowance? Utilities included? Wi-Fi at home free or paid? Distance to the school (meaning necessary for public transportation, etc. and etc. AND ETC.)
11. PASSION FOR TEACHING
● Unfortunately, some people that come to Korea to teach English do not have a passion for this, and/or they have never lived or even traveled abroad (with the exception of maybe a Cancun all-inclusive resort) therefore consider this carefully.
13. KOREAN REFERENCE
● If you have any Korean-American or ESL Teaching friends in Korea, their letter of recommendation may carry more weight.
15. KOREAN CONSULATE
● Locate the nearest Korean consulate, make an appointment and discuss with them teaching English.
● Be Patient! And do NOT expect their English to be very well even if in the U.S. or your home country.
17. KOREAN ESL TEACHING JOBS
● There are numerous recruiters, websites, etc to utilize in searching for English Teaching jobs in Korea, so therefore once again I feel as though I cannot say it enough DO YOUR RESEARCH! This can not only help you earn more but also have a better experience in general.
2. UNIVERSITY DEGREE
● A digital and/or hard copy may be necessary for proof.
● You may need your diploma (copy or original) notarized or certificated in some manner
4. PASSPORT PHOTOS
● It is always good to have an extra set of color passport size photos (U.S. standard size is 2" x 2" (51mm x 51mm)
● Multiple passport size photos will be needed for your application, typical example is: four for applications and two for Health
Another size example is: 3.5cm or 1.38" width by 4.5cm or 1.77 height.
6. APOSTILLED FBI CHECK
● Receiving an apostilled FBI Criminal Background check requires several different things, and you mus allow for processing time (of course with the government) therefore plan ahead, BUT, keep in mind some schools state it must be recent (within 6-months for example and you will need to be finger-printed (*estimated time to process can be 6-12 weeks or more)
8. TEACHING CERTIFICATE
● This is not required, but may help with finding jobs and/or salary negotiations (i.e. TESOL, TEFL, CELTA, etc)
10. RECOMMENDATION LETTER
● Just as with any job a letter of recommendation can carry a lot of weight. Even if you have no real-world experience ask a TA or Professor to write you one.
● Whether this is a requirement or not, in my opinion, this is ALWAYS good to have in a digital form, because you can always adjust the date, but a hard copy is good too.
12. TEACHING LICENSE
● Once again this MAY or MAY NOT be asked for or a requirement, but be prepared.
● In my opinion a simple bachelors degree is fine, bit obtaining a TESOL (or other) CAN (not always) increase your salary a bit.
14. FINGER PRINTS
● Necessary for FBI Apostilled Criminal Background and good to have a digital and hard copy.
16. APOSTILLED DOCUMENTS
● DO YOUR RESEARCH, may companies offer assistance with apostilled documentation and of course prices and processing time can vary significantly, so give yourself plenty of time (maybe a minimum of 3-months or more.
18. BEGIN TEACHING!
● This is an example of an E2 Visa, realize you are NOT allowed to do ANY other work such as tutoring or bar tending. Korea can be strict with immigration and illegal working without the proper visa like the U.S. therefore be mindful if this fact, because you can be deported etc. READ WARNING HERE