8 Things To Do Before Applying To Teach English in South Korea

Advice, Getting to Korea


Would you like to teach English in South Korea? Often the application process can be drawn out, frustrating and overwhelming. So, here are 8 things you will need to do which will make the application process quicker and easier. This is written from a South African perspective, but should be applicable for everyone.

Get your crap together.

The application process doesn’t have to be a long process, as long as you have these 8 things sorted.

  • Finish your degree or diploma. In order to apply for your E2 (work) visa, you will need to have a degree or a diploma of some sort (it doesn’t need to have anything to do with English or teaching). If you have not completed either of these you won’t be able to get a work visa for Korea. Rather apply to teach in Thailand, China, Vietnam or Italy.
  • Your police clearance certificate (CRC). This can take up to 8-12 weeks to get back (especially with all the recent postal strikes) and is essential for your visa application, so make sure that you apply for this up to 2 months before you even start looking for a job (it also paints a more professional picture if you have all your documentation before you begin the interview process). You can apply for your CRC at any local police station; the cost is between R120-R150 per person, you will also need to post this to the department head in Pretoria (as well as include a pre-paid registered mail return envelope) at your own expense. Depending on how you decide to post this (registered mail, overnight, regular…etc.) budget an extra R50.
  • Your CV. You will need this for your agency, position and visa applications so make sure that it is up to date with accurate and relevant information (they won’t care if you worked for Butler’s Pizza during your summer break). Some schools may want written references, so try and get digital copies of these just in case. Here is what you should include in your CV: http://www.myworldofwork.co.uk/content/10-things-you-should-have-in-your-cv
  • A cover letter. Some applications don’t require this, but it is good to include anyway. A cover letter is a great way to elaborate upon the work experience listed in your CV, as well as include a few examples which you couldn’t fit into the CV. Here’s what you should include in your cover letter: http://www.myworldofwork.co.uk/content/cover-letter-guide
  • A recent photo. This needs to have been taken in the past 6 months. It will need to be a forward facing, and professional looking, headshot. You will need to look professional; styled hair, freshly shaven and collared shirt for guys; and professional looking hair, light make-up and a blouse or buttoned up shirt for the ladies. While you need to look professional; this is not a passport photo, so look friendly and accessible (you will be working with kids after all). Please also make sure that you have no tattoos visible. You will need to use this photo for your agency and position applications.
  • An introductory video. This isn’t essential, but if done properly it could give you an advantage over other candidates. An introductory video is a short 2-3 minute video in which you give a brief introduction into who you are, why you enjoy teaching, why you would like to teach in Korea and why the school should employ you. Here are a few examples of good videos: http://www.teacheslkorea.com/getting_to_korea/intro_video.html http://youtu.be/kWZexAF_VBo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ie_85xhDe2s . During your video make sure that:
  • You are dressed smartly (no visible tattoos), this enables the potential employers to place a face to the application and enables you to make a good impression.
  • You film somewhere quiet with no background noise (unless you record in your current classroom).
  • You speak clearly, slowly and simply; the potential employers want to hear your accent and how you communicate, remember that their English may not be as strong as yours.
  • Start a TEFL course. If you are not a qualified teacher taking a 100+ hour TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) course will go a long way in your application process. They can be quite pricey, but Groupon often has specials where you can get up to 90% off of a course. When applying for a TEFL course, make sure that the institution that you do it through is certified under ACTDEC; here are a few things to consider when choosing your course: http://www.i-to-i.com/choosing-which-tefl-course.html
  • Decide on Private or Public school, and location It is always a good idea to decide on whether you would like to teach in a private or a public school, here is some useful information that will aid your decision:

http://www.teacheslkorea.com/teaching_in_korea/public_vs_private_schools.html ; Personally, I suggest that you go after a public school position, it is a more stable position, is often better paying and you stand a much lower chance of getting screwed over. However, the public school programs are a lot more competitive and you often have to apply up to 6 months in advance to secure one of these positions. With regards to the location, this is up to you; Korea has the 3rd largest city in the world (Seoul) as well as a few smaller but still fairly large cities; on the other hand, Korea also has a quite a few more rural areas if the big city vibe is not your thing. Your recruitment agency will ask for your preference, so make sure that you have a rough idea of where you would like to teach.

My next post will be a list of tips for when you start applying for a teaching position in South Korea.