If you're interested in teaching English in another country, give some serious thought to teaching in Korea. The fact is that at this moment, demand for English teachers in Korea is disproportionately high. This gives you an excellent chance of securing a job, as well as a higher paycheck than you could expect in other countries.
Teaching English in Korea is not an easy job. It will be a challenge, and you should be prepared for a complete immersion in a world that's very different from your own. On the other hand, it could very well turn out to be the best experience of your life.
Are you qualified?
If you're planning on teaching English in Korea, a college degree in any field is required. Those with language-related degrees may have a slight advantage when it comes to finding a job, but technically your field of study is not an issue.
Korean schools require their teachers to be native English speakers from the USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa. If you are not from one of these countries, Korean officials will not issue you a visa to become an English teacher.
ESL certification, which is a program that qualifies you to teach English as a second language, is an advantage but not a requirement. You may want to become ESL certified for your own peace of mind, especially if you've never taught in a classroom before.
Most jobs teaching English in Korea are at private schools called "Hogwans." Although Korean students are taught English in the classroom from a very young age, they are required to attend after-school study programs with native English-speaking teachers as well. The level of students you teach is up to you; classes are generally available in beginner, intermediate, and advanced.
If you prefer teaching adults, you'll find many adult conversational students looking for English teachers. Koreans place a great deal of emphasis on learning English, since it allows them to compete in the business world. Many adults attend English classes well into their working years, often through programs sponsored by their employers.
For the most part, those teaching English in Korea will work about 30 hours a week. The main thrust of your responsibility will be teaching conversational skills, with less emphasis placed on grammar and more on effective communication.
What to Expect
You'll find that the salary offered for teaching English in Korea is fairly competitive, especially compared to similar jobs in other countries. An English teacher can expect to make a decent wage and be supplied with generous health insurance. In most cases your employer will also cover airfare to and from Korea.
You should plan on spending at least a year in Korea once you've made your teaching commitment. Keep in mind that you'll need to be available for an entire school term, if not longer.
Korean schools do provide their foreign English teachers with free housing. In the past it was fairly common for two teachers to share a furnished apartment courtesy of their employer; nowadays, fewer teachers are being asked to share and single housing is becoming the norm.
Teaching English in Korea is a dramatic lifestyle change for anyone used to the Western way of doing things. On the other hand, it's a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture and see the world in a whole new way. If you're up for some adventure and not afraid of a challenge, it may just be the perfect job for you.
By Michelle Simmons