TEFL Success Stories – Part 31

Annie – South Korea

I am writing regarding my experience so far of teaching English in South Korea. I’ll point out straight away that I have no where near the experience level of teaching English as the other teachers I have read do. In fact I am just a babe in the woods who has been in Korea for a mere three months. Let me tell you about myself.

My name is Annie and I grew up on a farm in the South West country of NSW Australia. I met my darling husband Yohan when I was 19 and studying at university In Queensland. He is Korean. He was the first Korean I had ever met. When I first talked to him at our church, I had no idea where Korea was precisely, although I had heard about it from the show ‘Mash’. I related this to him, but of course he’d never heard of it. He had come to Australia from Seoul to study English and had just been enrolled in the university after his English studies were completed. Needless to say we were fascinated with each other and soon fell in love.

We were married in the new millennium, lived in Australia for a while while I completed my studies, then we moved to South Korea, his home. Now I am an English teacher, which is something I never quite imagined myself to be, but I have adapted quite well and am enjoying myself.


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I have recently finished teaching in my first contract which was with a university for a six week intensive English course for university students. I found myself to be the youngest and the only female teacher on the staff. I had done some tutoring as well as the TESOL course in Australia, but nothing prepares you enough for facing a class of nearly twenty watchful and expectant eyes in a large, echoing classroom. I’ll never forget my first class. I stepped into the sombre room and was confronted with the sight of a circle students all about my age. I am 23 years old. Up until that moment, the reality of teaching had not quite dawned upon me, but strangely, I plucked up my courage and faced the students now as their teacher. This very fact gave me courage and I quickly evolved into my new role. My heart pounded within me but I stepped towards them and raised my voice with a command I did not know I had. In those first few days of working there I also had an optional class given to me to talk about Australian life and culture. When I opened the door to go into this class for the first time, I quickly pulled back again as I had not planned on almost 60 students turning up! So I pulled myself together and walked in with supreme confidence and instead of the discussion style lesson I had planned, I ‘lectured’ by talking about the history and recent events happening in Australia. After doing that my confidence grew enormously and I felt I could now face anything.


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These memories stand out most in my mind, as well as the way I grew to love teaching, the students and all the other teachers. This program was itself especially rewarding for all because it was a complete immersion program with absolutely no Korean allowed. The student’s level of English improved dramatically over the number of weeks.

Working at the small institutes is a little different because the English level is very low as they are children, but also the motivation is low as they are there because of their parents. I find that the best way to get the children to like learning English is to get them to really like you. You yourself are probably the only native speaker or ‘real life’ example of English they have. So by being a good teacher to them, I think this will have a great impact on their young, developing lives.


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South Korea is a great place to live and work, especially if you are young and looking for adventure like me. I also have had the added benefit and experiences of being involved with a Korean family. They are all really loving towards me. I truly can say I have absolutely no problems whatsoever, and have learned so many things about people and life already.

I am only in the beginning stage of my life and career, but look forward to life with such an expectancy that I shall have a myriad of things to write about again in the near future.

Happy teaching!


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Some Things You Should Know About Teaching English in South Korea

To teach English in Korea you must meet the following criteria:

  • Citizenship from a recognized English-speaking nation: U.S., U.K., Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa.
  • Bachelor’s degree/diploma from an accredited college or university (4 years in US/3 years in UK).
  • Original national level criminal record check (FBI in the U.S.) that is free of any charges or convictions – DUIs, DWIs and any other misdemeanors or felonies will disqualify any prospective teachers from receiving an E-2 visa required to teach English in Korea (minor traffic violations will not disqualify you).
  • Clean health check and drug test.

During the process of applying and interviewing for English teaching positions, and getting a visa processed at the consulate after signing a contract, prospective teachers should expect to be able to produce the following documents:

  • Bachelor’s and/or Master’s degree/diploma
  • Sealed college or university transcript
  • Original national level criminal background check (FBI in the U.S.)
  • Passport photos
  • Original contract (to be provided by your employer for visa processing at consulate)
  • Original passport that is valid for at least one year

For some positions, particularly those in public schools and universities, English teachers in Korea may be required to provide the following during the application and/or visa processes:

  • Proof of full-time teaching experience
  • Copy of TEFL certificate 
  • Copy of teaching license or certificate


Salaries for First Year English Teachers in South Korea

  • Public schools:  1.8 – 2.0 million KRW (approximately $1,600 – $1,800 USD) per month.
  • Private schools: 2.0-2.1 million KRW ($1,800 – $1,900 USD) per month.

Salaries for Experienced 
English Teachers in South Korea

  • Public schools: 2.0 – 2.7 million KRW ($1,800 – $2,400 USD) per month
  • Private schools: 2.1-3.0 million KRW ( $1,900 - $2,750 USD) per month


Additional Benefits for English teachers in South Korea

  • Severance bonus - Most English teachers also receive an extra month salary bonus upon successful completion of their contract.
  • Paid vacation – Public school teachers receive 18 days (three work weeks) paid vacation plus 15-18 national holidays.  Private school teachers typically receive 7-10 days paid vacation plus 15-18 national holidays.
  • Furnished housing – Most teachers will be provided with a single-occupancy apartment that is fully furnished.
  • Airfare – Most teachers will be required to buy their airline ticket upfront and then will be reimbursed upon arrival.  In some cases, the school may provide the teacher’s airline ticket up front.
  • Health care - As an employee you are on the Korean national health care system. 
  • Converting won into other currencies and transferring it back to your home country – It is not difficult to convert Korean wan into U.S. dollars or other foreign currencies, nor is it difficult to transfer money from Korea to banks in the U.S. and elsewhere (though there may be some nominal administrative fees).  If you plan to transfer money to your bank account in your home country, make sure that you bring all relevant account information (account numbers, routing numbers, swift codes, etc.) with you to Korea.


How much can I save teaching English in South Korea and why can I save so much as an English teacher in South Korea?

  • Most English teachers in Korea will be able to save up to 50 % of their salary after expenses, which can range from the equivalent of $800 – $1,200 a month.
  • Korea is a very prosperous nation that highly values education so schools, parents and the government are all willing to offer high salaries and good benefits to recruit qualified native English speaking teachers.
  • Rent is provided, so English teachers do not need to worry about an item that for most people will consume 30% or more of their monthly budget.
  • Cost of living – food, utilities, public transportation, etc. – is lower than in most large American and Western European cities.
  • Teachers who complete a 12 month contract will typically receive a severance bonus equivalent to one month’s pay.


TEFL Zorritos: What could be better?  Study in a beautiful Peruvian beach town, free surfing lessons, great accommodations available, including delicious local food.  Fully accredited 160 Hour TEFL course with a practical approach that provides you with 5 advanced certifications at absolutely no extra cost!  And a guaranteed job waiting for you when you complete the course.

Class sizes are limited, so don’t wait, make your reservation today!