Teaching English in Korea

Ninety Days to a Job Teaching English in Korea, Part 3 — Your Application Documents

Posted by on May 2, 2011 in EFL in Korea, Teaching English in Korea, Uncategorized | 3 comments

Kimchi Pots and Water Jugs

(Click on any of the photos to view a larger version.)

If you’re still reading this series, then you are probably giving serious consideration to teaching English in Korea. Then again, maybe you’re just bored. 🙂 If you have made the decision to teach in Korea, hopefully, you have started the process for your Criminal Records Check.

Before you actually start applying for jobs you should scan all of your documents and have them in one folder on your computer. Here is what most employers will request when you apply for a position…

Cover Letter: I have created a standard letter that I customize with the school’s name and the position I’m applying for. If you create a standard letter always double check it before sending. You don’t want to send a letter addressed to ABC School when you’re really applying to MNO School. (Trust me, I did this once…so embarrassing!) Your cover letter should include information about your skills and experience, and why you think you would be an asset to the school. Remember, keep it simple. There is a very good chance that the person reading your cover letter is not a native English speaker. Keep your letter upbeat. Be sure to run it through a spell and grammar checker before you send it out.

Resume: You’ll need an up-to-date resume. Include your current address and contact information, education. and experience. You must include a recent photo, and your date of birth. I know this sounds weird to many people. However, in Asia it is required information. Your photograph should be a head shot, and you should be well groomed. Guys, Koreans are not big on facial hair. Until you get the job you might want to show a clean face. Be sure to highlight any teaching experience. This could be paid or volunteer. References should be included. The chances of them being called are slim. However, if you are applying for a public school position there is a chance. Also, if you are using a recruiter, they may call.

Yes, Older teachers are hired here. I know teachers in their 60’s. Sometimes it takes longer to secure a position, but persistence will pay off.

Sometimes its Good to Look Back

Passport: You will be asked for a scan of your passport information page. If your passport is within a year of expiry, get it renewed. Passports can be renewed in Korea at your embassy, but it is much more expensive.

University degree/transcripts: A scanned copy of your degree is required. You may also be asked for your transcripts. A reader has mentioned that transcripts are no longer required by Immigration. However, employers are slow to change here. I was talking to a friend this past weekend, who is looking for a new position. He told me that all of the ads he’s read continue to ask for transcripts. Be on the safe side, and have them available. Many universities provide at least one copy free of charge.

TEFL/TESL certificate: If you’ve completed your certificate, include a copy with your application. Competition for good jobs has heated up over the last couple of years, and this will show prospective employers that you are serious. This is particularly true for public school positions.

Criminal Records Check: You need to apply for your CRC as early in the process as possible. Korean Immigration will only accept CRC’s from a national source. In Canada it’s the RCMP and can take up to six months. In the United States it’s the FBI, and also takes a while to process. Check with the issuing source in your country to find out how to get your CRC, and how long you can expect to wait. Your Visa will not be issued without a Criminal Records Check. If you’ve applied for your CRC, be sure to tell your potential employer that it’s in the works.

Morning Reflection

Initially, this is the information most potential employers will ask for. If you are going through a recruiter for a public school job, you may be asked to complete a medical evaluation form This is a self evaluation. You will still be required to have a medical once you arrive in country.

The more complete and professional looking your application is the better chance you have of securing a good position quickly.

Once an employer makes you an offer, and you accept, you’ll have to courier all originals to your prospective employer.


If you missed Part 1 or 2 of this series, here are the links….

Ninety Days to a Job Teaching English in Korea — Part 1

Ninety Days to a Job Teaching English in Korea — Part 2

Korean Fan Dance

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Ninety Days to a Job Teaching English in Korea, Part 2: Is a TESL/TEFL Certificate Necessary?

Posted by on Apr 11, 2011 in EFL in Korea, Teaching English in Korea, Uncategorized | 10 comments

Is a TESL/TEFL certificate required to teach English in Korea? Well, the short answer is NO. As long as you are a native English speaker, and have a degree from an accredited university, you can get a job teaching English in Korea . However, there are a couple reasons why you may want to consider adding a TESL certificate to your credentials.

If you take an off-line TESL/TEFL course, there will most likely be a practice teaching component. This can be extremely helpful for anyone who has never taught before. I came into the English teaching world from corporate Canada. I wasn’t a teacher. My expertise was sales. However, I had excellent presentation skills, and was experienced in product training. I had to see for myself that I could transition these skills into a classroom environment. I enrolled in a local TESL/TEFL program, and have never regretted the time or money I spent to become certified. I loved the practical experience, and it gave me the confidence to pursue English teaching jobs.

Hanji Paper with Chinese Characters

Public school jobs are big in Korea these days. While they do not require a TESL/TEFL certificate, teachers with TESL/TEFL certificates are on a higher pay level. The Korean government is also pushing for all teachers to be certified, or enrolled in a program at time of hire. The certificate must be 100+ hours, and can be an off-line or on-line program. I worked in a public school in 2005, and my TESL/TEFL certificate helped me bank an extra $1200.00.

There are three major programs hiring teachers for public schools. You can read more about pay scales and certification on their websites.




Private English schools generally do not pay teachers extra if they have a certificate. However, if there’s a lot of competition for a particular job, someone with a TESL/TEFL certificate may have a better chance of landing the job.

If you do decided to earn a TESL/TEFL certificate, there are no lack of programs. The most respected program is the CELTA. The four week program is taught worldwide. Click for more info. (CELTA)

On-line programs are an option. I’d recommend that you ask around to find people who have take an online course, and get their feedback.

Here are a couple of links that may help you find a program. You could also check at your local university or community college.


In Part 3 I’ll talk about where to find available English teaching jobs and how to apply.

If you missed Part 1 of this series, you’ll find it HERE.

Lotus Lanterns 2008

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Ninety Days to a Job Teaching English in Korea: Part 1: First Things First: Do you Qualify?

Posted by on Mar 28, 2011 in EFL in Korea, Teaching English in Korea | 26 comments

I’m writing this series because I receive a lot of emails asking me about teaching English in Korea. These days it seems that many people are contemplating teaching English in Korea as an overseas lifestyle option. I’m into my eleventh year of teaching on the ROK.  By the end of this series you should have the knowledge and necessary resources to become an English teacher in Korea.

Korea National Museum -- Pagoda

Part 1    First Things First : Do You Qualify

Before you seriously consider teaching EFL in Korea you need to do two things. First, you should take some time and answer the question “Why do I want to teach English overseas?” Be brutally honest with yourself. If you think that this is a perfect way to solve your life’s problems, you’re probably wrong. If you’re a drug or an alcohol addict at home, you’ll still be one in Korea. Are you drowning in debt? Those debts won’t disappear just because you decide to move overseas. All I’m saying is KNOW why you’re leaving your home country, and everything that’s familiar. Teaching in Korea can be a fantastic experience, but it’s not a cakewalk.

Most English teachers need an E-2 Visa to teach in Korea. Once you’ve decided that you’re coming here for all the right reasons (or at least a few), be sure that you have the proper credentials and paperwork to obtain your E-2 Visa.

1. Korea only hires native English speakers from the seven major English speaking countries; Canada, America, Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Ireland and South Africa. Unless you hold a passport from one of these countries you won’t pass go (or in your case immigration).

2. You must have a university degree. Your degree can be in basket weaving, but it must be from an accredited institution. You’ll have to send your original degree to the Korean Embassy closest to where you live to be authenticated. Embassy staff will copy your degree, reduce it, and add some pretty stamps. Be sure to pay for a few extra copies. They’re not expensive. You’ll probably end up taking your original degree to Korea along with the copies. Sometimes employers will want your original degree. Don’t give it to them; copy only.

3. Sealed transcripts from your university.

If you meet the requirements above, then read on.

4. You will need a Criminal Records Check (CRC), not older than 3 months. This can take time to obtain, so you should start the process early. Korean immigration will no longer accept CRCS  from local police departments. If you’re a Canadian, that means your CRC must be processed through the RCMP. Americans must submit a CRC from the FBI. You should check out your government’s website to determine how to obtain a CRC in your country. Your documents will have to be notarized and apostillized. You can find out more about that here: “Process to Apostillize the Required Documents” here: http://www.korvia.com/index.php/how-to-apostillize-document.html .
Canada does not have an Apostille agreement with Korea. This means that Canadians must have their documents notarized at a Korean embassy.

In early 2011 Korean immigration implemented some changes regarding the CRC. As always, it can be difficult to find out exactly what you need to know. Here’s a great article to help clear up any confusion…


5. If you have never taught in Korea before, you may have to be interviewed at your nearest Korean embassy. This requirement is a little vague. Here is what I found on one website:

Recent changes in Korean immigration policies require that all new E-2 visa applicants with no previous teaching experience in Korea to attend an interview session at the nearest Korean diplomatic office (where you send your visa applications to). This is normally the last step before they place the visa on your passport. When approved, your passport will be ready 2-3 days after the interview and the embassy / consulate will send it to your address. In Canada, in most cases you can pick up your passport with the visa on the same day of your interview. Please be ready to make a trip to the Korean Consulate or Embassy for this. Interviews are not required to applicants with previous teaching experience in Korea. (http://www.asia-pacific-connections.com/visa_issuance.html)

This specifically mentions Canada, so you’re not a Canadian, check with a Korean embassy in your country.
Also, it should be possible to arrange a telephone interview if the nearest Korean embassy is far from where you live.

That’s really about it, for qualifications and documents. However, you will need to have a medical examination upon arrival. There’s a bit of controversy surrounding this one due to the requirements for drug and HIV testing.
This is what I found regarding the medical examination requirement.

http://gurl.co.kr/zeroboard/view.php id=englishteachers&page=1&sn1=&divpage=1&sn=off&ss=on&sc=on&select_arrange

Medical Records

Steps of submitting medical records and issuer.
Steps : When applying for visa issuance number

Document: Self-Medical Evaluation Form
Issuer : Applicants themselves
After arrival, when applying for Alien Registration Card

Doctor’s Medical Check
National hospitals, Community Health Centers, University hospitals
1. Self-Medical Evaluation Form
Employer has to submit the self-medical evaluation form which is handwritten by the applicant and submitted to the Immigration Office in Korea when applying for visa issuance number.

2. Doctor’s Medical Check
After entering Korea with E2 visa, a doctor’s medical check (specifically Medical Check for Employment Purposes) issued from national hospitals, community health centers, or university hospitals has to be submitted when registering for Alien Card.
The doctor’s medical check must be issued at least 3 months before the Alien Registration. Information that needs to be included in the medical check: TBPE and Cannabinoids test for drug test, HIV test for AIDS

* For applicants who do not submit the doctor’s medical check or is found out to have taking drugs, have AIDS or Alcoholic, having a contagious disease etc, his/her visa permit will be cancelled and consecutively will be deported.

Your employer will help you arrange the medical check. You want to get this done as quickly as possible, so that your Alien Registration Card (ARC) can be processed. You need your ARC to open a bank account, to purchase a cell phone, register for National Health Insurance., etc. etc. Once you have your ARC day to day living on the ROK becomes much easier.

Spring Time at the Neighborhood Temple

Part 1 Checklist:
• Native speaker from one of the seven major English speaking countries
• University Degree
• Sealed University Transcripts
If you have the above, then…
• Criminal Records Check
• Medical Examination (in-country)

Obtaining a visa really isn’t that difficult. If you have the necessary qualifications, it’s just a matter of being organized enough to obtain and submit the necessary paperwork. You can be teaching English in Korea in ninety days or less.


In Part 2 I’ll talk about become TESL certification. Is it really necessary?

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