Types of ESL Jobs in Korea

June 11, 2008

<< Types of ESL Jobs in Korea >>

Currently in Korea there are many teachers working in private language schools (hagwons) and at public schools. However there are also several other types of organizations that Native English speakers can find work at:

A. Public Schools
B. Corporate in-house language programs;
C. University foreign-language institutes;
D. University departments;
E. Government/private research institutes; and
F. Public relations, advertising, publishing companies.
G. English villages
H. Part-time Teaching

Private Language Schools “Hagwons”
Due to a huge boom in the learning of English as a 2nd Language in the 21st century, private language institutes are found all over Korea. Majority are located in the metropolitan cities of Korea. Some are well known and have many branches or franchised, while others are small-scale. The ESL (English as a Second Language) market in Korea is extremely competitive and it is common for institutes to fail if they do not meet the expectations of the parents of the students.

Most hagwons employ expatriate (American, British, Canadian, New Zealander, Australian, Irish and South Africans) instructors for conversation classes. Almost all institutes will provide housing for instructors. The typical full-time employee can be expected to teach 30~40 hours a week. The majority of hagwons that have kindergarten will have classes conducted in the morning and to early evening. Hagwons that have students aged between 7~18 will have classes from afternoon to late evening. Hagwons that have classes for adults (usually university students, or business people who are contemplating overseas assignments or trying to improve their English skills) will conduct classes very early in the morning and late in the evening. Most classes have from 10 to 15 students.
All institutes are required by law to provide health insurance during the period of employment and severance pay on completion of a one-year contract, but some institutes fail to honour these provisions. The average monthly salary is currently about 2.0 to 2.3 million a month

A. Public Schools
More and more federal, municipal and some provincial governments have begun hiring Native English teachers to teach English in the public school system. The Korean government sponsors the English Program in Korea (EPIK), or other equivalent Assistant English Teachers program is operates exclusively to find more Native English speakers to teach at their schools. The conditions and hours of work are comparable in many ways to teaching in the public systems in Canada. Housing and basic furniture are provided, and base salary ranges from 1.8 million to 2.3 million won per month. There is a set pay scale for these programs, and each pay scale may be different according to the government body is sponsoring the program. Also there could be an additional rural allowance for some areas ranging between 100,000~200,000won.

A candidate having a master’s degree with more than 2 years of teaching experience or a teaching certificate would be on the high end of the pay scale (LEVEL 3), while one with a non-education-based bachelor’s degree would be on the lower end (LEVEL 1). The Korean government has stated that more Native English teachers for the public schools will be hired so that the goal of having 1 foreign teacher per school could be achieved.

B. Corporate In-House Language Programs
Nowadays large corporate have their own in-house language programs. An instructor can typically be expected to teach more than 30 hours a week, working irregular hours all day from early in the morning to late at night. Most of these programs are intensive residential programs that require the company’s staff to study for three to six months. Some of the programs provide instructors with full benefits, but instructors may be required either to live on-site or only offer housing allowance so that the instructors may have to commute from their house. However, there are also some companies that give assistance to the instructors on key money. The average monthly salary in such programs is currently about 2.0 to 2.5 million won.

C. University Foreign-Language Institutes
Most universities in metropolitan cities, as well as some universities in other provinces, operate language institutes. Many of the students in these institutes are students that have enrolled in university but there are also students who work. The courses offered by these foreign language institutes run throughout the university break.

The hiring standards of these institutes tend to be the highest in Korea: most instructors have master’s degrees in Linguistics or TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and some teaching experience. The pay, status and benefits offered by these institutes also are among the best in ESL jobs in Korea.  There are many advantages when working in a provincial universities: such as bigger housing (as housing is cheaper in those areas than metropolitan cities), better working conditions and salaries, and treatment of foreign instructors as part of the faculty.

D. University Departments
Universities in Korea employ full-time English conversation instructors for the General Education subjects or the English Language Departments. University classes tend to be larger, sometimes up to over 100 students and there is less personal contact with the students. Most instructors at universities teach between 10 and 15 hours a week. English language standards in Korean universities differ greatly according to each universities and students, so you will be expected to teach classes from beginning level to advanced level, and even TOEFL or TOEIC classes. Many universities in Seoul do not provide housing, and the benefits provided by each university are different. Monthly salaries currently average about 2.2 to 2.5 million won, with three to four months of paid vacation a year.

E. Government/Private Research & Development Institutes
Many government agencies and private companies operate research institutes. Most of the institutes hire foreigners with degrees in the humanities, economics, linguistics or business administration to work as full-time researchers or editors. The editors proofread correspondence and research publications, write speeches, and occasionally teach as well. Most of the institutes pay quite well and the other benefits package differ according to the institute. Because the research institutes are usually government-run or closely associated with powerful corporate groups, instructors who work in them will be sponsored a different type of work visa.

F. Public Relations and Advertising Companies
There are several public relations and advertising companies in Korea that hire foreigners to work as copy editors and occasionally as instructors for the English radio programs or English broadcasting shows as well. These positions are difficult to obtain as they are quite popular with the resident English-teaching community and would require someone who has experience in these field back home. There are also opportunities to appear on television and radio programs, commercials, drama and in movies. Most of these companies pay quite well but may not offer the full benefits package such as airfare, housing, national pension etc.

G. English Village
Many English Villages have been created in Korea so that the students can experience living in a  foreign country without leaving the country and huge financial burden. The English Villages are built to offer similar environment, and experience services and facilities of an English speaking country. There are English Villages in Jeju, Paju, Ansan, Suyu (Seoul), Seongnam, Gangwon, etc. Usually the English Villages need creative, artistic and enthusiastic people to meet new batch of students every week or every day, depending on its program. Most English Villages hire many English Native Teachers to work in different fields, and offer onsite accommodations, about 30 hours of teaching per week and salary range of 2.0 to 2.6 mil won.

H. English Part-Time Teaching 
Many full-time English instructors teach part-time as well. Private instruction is illegal if you have ESL teaching work visa(E2). If you get caught and fined, you cannot leave Korea until you have paid the required amount. The immigration authorities will insist that you arrange for money to be sent, if necessary even from your home country if you do not have sufficient funds. When considering private teaching, you should be aware that you are taking a serious risk if you teach private lessons. Most schools would not allow you to take on second job or part-time job and it would be stated in the contract. If you are found to be violating this condition, you may risk losing your job.


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