Well, in this post I'll give an overview of EPIK and talk about the benefits of teaching English in South Korea. In future posts, I'll explain the details to getting you started on your journey to becoming an English teacher in Korea.
The EPIK (English Program in Korea) has been around since 1995 with the goal of improving the English abilities of Koreans through their education system. EPIK is a recruiter for the different MOEs throughout the country of Korea. An MOE is a Metropolitan Office of Education. In order to become an English teacher in a public elementary, middle, or high school, So, EPIK works as a big recruiter which you apply to, state which MOE you would like to apply to on the application (like Seoul-SMOE, or Busan, or Gwangju), and then they sort through the applications, place people, and get the teachers ready to come to Korea. Then, all of the incoming teachers go through an Orientation together, and you're off to your individual MOEs to meet your school and start teaching. After people start working as teachers in Korea, a common confusion is to say you're employed by EPIK, but that is actually not true, you are employed by your individual MOE.
So, why teach English in South Korea in the first place?
1. Get to experience a new culture and side of the world, one that would be very expensive and hard to visit on your own from countries like America or the UK. With flight allowance of 1.3 million won (around $1100 USD with the current exchange rate, but that has been closer to around $1250 in the past), and a flight allowance of 1.3 million won when you finally leave Korea, teaching in Korea is a great way to experience a side of the world that would normally cost you $1500 at least out of your pocket for a round trip flight.
2. The food. You may not know a lot about Korean food, but let me tell you, it's the best. So much variety and different flavors thrown in together. Makes American food seem quite boring. Additionally, being in Korea, there's also great Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, and Japanese restaurants too, as well as high-quality restaurants from just about every other part of the world. Furthermore, with no tipping and tax included in the cost of meals at restaurants, it's quite cheap to eat out. There are loads of good, healthy meals for around $4-7. But if the food isn't enough for you to make you come to Korea, read on!
3. The money. A separate post just for this later, but with flight allowance, a salary where it's easy to save about half of it if you're good, pension, severance money, free furnished apartments, renewal bonuses, good health insurance and pay upgrades every year you stay, it's easy to pay back your student loans, travel to nearby countries, or save up a few grand for when you go back home.
4. The lifestyle. As an english teacher in Korea, you teach 22 hours a week (and those "hours" are actually only 40 minutes). If you put this into a 40 hour work week, that's a lot of extra time. Say it takes you at the most an hour a day to lesson plan (probably more like 30 minutes), that's 8-13 hours you have at your desk to relax. You can use this time to work on your blogs, study up on coursera or do other professional development courses, learn korean, and whatever else you want. Plus, you work 8:30-4:30 just m-f, so you have your afternoons and weekends to relax and explore Korea.
5. The time off. Teachers in Seoul get 21 days paid vacation (not including those weekends), so thats 4 weeks right off the bat. Then, there are national holidays and school holidays (such as Chuseok, a 4-day national holiday weekend in September). With all this time off you have loads of time to explore Korea and nearby countries for vacations.. Some people even fly to countries like Japan for the weekend. Not bad, huh? Common times off are the end of December, January (1-2 weeks), chinese new year in February (a few days), the end of February (around 1.5 weeks, the "in between the school year break"), and summer break (around 1-2 weeks). The teacher's lifestyle is the best.
6. Experience as a real, ESL teacher. While the job may be easy, it is definitely rewarding and a great resume builder. This is a real teaching job where you get paid a great salary, have health insurance, pension, and severance. In addition to building your teaching skills, teaching English in a foreign country can improve your verbal and non-verbal communication skills, your confidence in front of an audience, your organizational abilities, your ability to work with children, your ability to relate and deal with people that are different than you, and your language skills.
If all of this sounds awesome to you, keep reading my blog posts to check out how to apply to EPIK, what qualifications you need, what to pack, how much money you will make in South Korea, the daily life of an English teacher, and more.