English Teacher Employers in South Korea
Hagwan, academic institutes, focus on improving skills in certain subjects and serve students and business people.
If you have no connections in Korea, teaching in a hagwan may be the best place to start. There are hundreds of hagwan throughout the country looking for native English speakers to teach conversation classes year-round. Instructors work 20 to 30 hours each week and generally have between 10 and 25 students in each class. The pay at these language schools is lower than the rate for private tutoring, but because you stay at one school during the day, you save money normally spent on daily transit costs. Split schedules are common, but you can fit in private tutoring sessions during the off-hours. Before accepting a position at one of these schools, investigate it thoroughly. Most are reliable, but some have taken advantage of unsuspecting foreign teachers.
Many corporations in Korea have their own English programs and hire instructors to teach about 30 hours each week. The majority of the programs require that students live on campus and are intensive three- to six-month sessions. Some programs provide housing for instructors as well, but require that the instructors live on campus.
Although it is illegal for teachers to take private students unless they obtain permission from their sponsoring institute and from the Korean immigration authorities, private jobs are the most lucrative so many people seek them out despite the potential for legal hassles.
Private tutoring sessions cost W32,200 – W42,900 (US$40 – $70) per hour for teaching groups of three to six people. Because of shifting schedules, it is best to be paid up front for each session. The fee charged is usually commensurate with the students’ ability to pay. Small groups are ideal because conversation is inclusive and individual needs can be addressed. Teaching privately will allow you to make connections, which is important in a country where who you know makes all the difference.
The majority of universities in Korea hire full-time conversational English instructors, most of whom have at least a master’s degree. Most don’t provide housing, and some don’t provide the same benefits that are standard for English instructors. Instructors teach between 12 and 18 hours each week. With a university job you are likely to have three to four months of paid vacation per year, which is an exciting bonus for those who like to travel.
Provincial universities may provide housing, better working conditions, and benefits, but they are in smaller areas. While some foreigners may have a difficult time adjusting to the isolation, others love being away from the hustle and confusion of the larger cities.
Jobs at junior colleges are slightly less lucrative and require more hours in the classroom, but the competition isn’t quite as stiff as it is for jobs at the larger universities. Most teachers at junior colleges are TESOL or RSA certified, but don’t necessarily have master’s degrees.