Am I qualified for the EPIK program? (12 Answers)

EPIK program South Korea

Question asked – 

I’ve never applied before. I have a Bachelor’s degree in history from the UK, don’t speak Korean and I’m caucasian. I have co-taught history classes as part of an education practicum class for one college semester. I haven’t done a TEFL certification yet. If I complete a TEFL course what are my chances of getting hired through EPIK?

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“It doesn’t sound like you have an education degree but have taught classes? “

Yes, I took some education courses during college because I was considering becoming a teacher. Part of the course load required me to get some classroom experience. It was only a couple of months. That’s all.

“Okay. If you don’t have an education degree, then you’ll certainly need to complete a 100 hour TEFL course. Have you looked at the qualifications needed on the EPIK website?”

“EPIK is competitive. You must have TEFL, or don’t even apply. That’s the barrier to entry along with a degree.”

“To save costs, just apply and say you have the TEFL certificate, then if you are offered a job do the TEFL course quickly online. It shouldn’t take you long.”

“The Groupon course is $50. They say it’s 160 hours, but you can do it on your own online in 10-15 hours.”

“Seriously. Groupon won’t get recognized. It’s a joke. You’ll need at least 6 hours of in-classroom TEFL experience in addition to the online component. EPIK is competitive. If you aren’t prepared to get a TEFL certification, then just apply to a hagwon.”

I’ve heard so many horror stories about hagwons. Can you recommend some?

“I can’t recommend a specific hagwon, but some good recruiters are Korvia (they also recruit for EPIK), AppleTree and SeoulESL. Before you take a hagwon job, get in touch with a teacher currently working there, or who has worked there.”

“If you want to teach adults, I’d recommend Pagoda. But, every branch is different. At one location the school manager could be great and treat you well, and the next school you’ll  be worked 8 hours a day, have to teach on Saturdays and get a crummy apartment. You never know.” You’ll get conflicting views from teachers at different branches.

“Apply to hagwons and EPIK at the same time and see what kinds of offers come in. Who knows, a hagwon job may look more attractive than EPIK. I’ve known teachers who’ve had a bad experience with EPIK.”

“Do the TEFL certificate online regardless. It will help you teach better in the classroom, which means less stress and you’ll become a better English instructor. If you’re serious about getting a job, then just get it done.”


Private tutoring in Korea?

Question asked – 

Can I teach privates English lessons to Koreans on the side or is it illegal? I plan to work at a hagwon. I’ve heard teachers have lots of free time where they can double their salary by tutoring.

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“You’ll need your hagwon manager’s permission if you want to teach at another school or business. As for teaching privately, most teachers do it, but it’s illegal no matter what your boss says. If immigration finds out you’ll get fined, jailed or deported, in that order. It’s a “not paying taxes” issue, really.”

“As for teachers not teaching much. Personally I work a long day, and when I get home after a one hour commute I’m wiped. I couldn’t imagine cracking a textbook with a student for another extra hour, let alone traveling to another English class, even if they paid me 50,000 won per hour. Maybe on the weekend, but I’d rather enjoy myself. Did you come to Korea to be a workhorse and pay off your student loan in a year?  If so, get as many privates as you can. But working that hard is not sustainable.”

“If you have an E-2 teaching visa you must only teach at your hagwon. I’ve heard of teachers who start teaching privates because their school can’t get them enough hours because student enrolment is down. They permit the teacher to teach private lessons, essentially to support themselves in Korea. Not legal, but at least you can eat.”

“You need any extracurricular teaching opportunities outside of your current employer approved by immigration. There is no grey area here. If you don’t have a stamp in your visa for a second employer by immigration you are breaking Korean law.The risk is completely up to you.

“I got married to a Korean women and then switched to an F2 spousal visa. I expect I’ll be able to move to different schools easier now and also teach privates.”

“If you’re studying Korean as a full-time student at a Korean university you can teach on the side at a hagwon or recognized institution. I believe it used to be up to 15 hours per week. Not sure if that’s changed up or down though.”

“I learned that if you have an F-6 visa you can apply for a private tutoring license from the ministry of education. You are permitted to tutor kids English from grades 1-12. But you have to pay your taxes. That will get you in trouble, if you don’t.”

“Asking your hagwon boss if you can tutor on the side is stupid. Seriously, would you ask your boss in American if you can moonlight?”

“Agreed. However, if your boss gets a cut of your pay by pimping you out to another school or business, he might jump at the chance of letting you teach privately somewhere else on the weekends or evenings.” Still illegal though unless he and you head down to immigration and get the paperwork done for you to teach English at a second location.

“Your Korean school provides you with your E2 visa and they support your apartment, healthcare, flight and give you all other benefits. I doubt they’d let you teach English privately. Nothing in it for them.”


No E2 teaching visa # yet for Korea?

Question asked – 

I am supposed to start teaching English in Korea at a hagwon in mid December, and I haven’t been issued an E2  visa yet. The hagwon said they have a visa issuance number for me, but won’t disclose it until the other teacher they hired has his. Why won’t they give it to me so I can get the process moving? I’d like to go to the consulate in Vancouver and pick up my visa by now.Is this normal procedure or am I being played?

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“Something is up. I’d say they’re not revealing the whole truth. Do they really have a visa number for you? Would it be possible to call the Korean consulate and explain the situation to someone there and they may tell you “yes” or “no” the visa number has actually been issued? Just a thought.”

“Maybe they have no plan to process your visa and bring you over because they don’t have enough classes to hire you as originally anticipated. They could be waiting for their student numbers to go up before the commit to hiring you full-time. That’s my hunch.”

“Everything went smoothly during the hiring process for me. Spoke with the recruiter, submitted my docs, interviewed with the hagwon director, who liked me. There were no red flags.”

Can you get a hold of another teacher there and explain your situation? Maybe there are internal issues at the school. They may be laying off teachers at the school. Sometimes if a hagwon loses a larger client (i.e. a local company where they outsource teachers to teach adult classes), that could crush half their business and they may not need to hire up…. Things can change overnight at less established hagwons in Korea”

“I wouldn’t panic. We don’t know the entire visa process and maybe the school has a policy of not giving out numbers until they get a batch of them for all of the teachers they plan on bringing over. Maybe a hagwon manager has to go down to immigration and do further paperwork. There are many variables involved and my guess is that they just want to process and bring everyone over at the same time”

“Don’t sweat it. If your teaching job falls through at the hagwon, you can get hired somewhere else. You have to complete the visa process in Korea, anyway. And January is a good hiring time so you should get lots of offers. Just make sure your CRC doesn’t expire, or you’ll have to get a new one. That’s what I’d be most concerned about with having to start the ESL job search all over again.”

I had to wait 5 months before I could get to Korea. It’s hurry up and wait. Accept it. You’re applying for a working visa in a foreign country with a lot of red tape. It’ll come through. Just be patient.”


Aclipse Recruiter in Korea?

Question asked – 

I’ve been reading mostly bad stuff about Aclipse ESL recruiters. There are a few good things but almost all negative. Should I use them? They requested an interview with me.

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Not sure it’s necessarily bad things about the recruiter, or the school. When you read what teachers say, are they really complaining about the recruiter, or the hagwon they worked at? Very often teachers complain about the school, the management, or the slave driving hours they work. The recruiter just matches you to a school based on what the school tells them.” They don’t vet the schools much, except take their word as the truth.

“You have to use many recruiters and go with the one that gives you a good job offer and a job you feel good about. Go with your gut, but back it up with some research into the school and the recruiter. Talk to teachers who work there. I had a friend who went to work for Chungdahm learning and was treated fairly, while other teachers despise it.”Aclipse recruits for Chungdahm.

“Never allow a recruiter to pressure you into signing a contract. Take your time and do your diligence. There will always be another job and another recruiter to use…”

“Don’t let a recruiter tell you they can’t find you a teaching job in Seoul. There are hundreds, if not thousands of unfilled teaching jobs in Seoul. They’ll try to stick you out of Seoul first, if you’re a sucker. Better to be in Seoul for so many reasons.”

“I used Aclipse. They were super quick to respond and answer all my questions. You can talk to teachers too. There is not reason for them to lie to you..”

“Aclipse recruits for Chungdahm school or CDI. That’s it. Sure they have hundreds of jobs all over Korea, but CDI doesn’t exactly have a squeaky clean image with English teachers in Korea. The made all their teachers contractors so they didn’t have to pay for basic benefits. They’ll also give you long working hours and minimal vacation. If it’s CDI,then run! There are so many more hagwons to work at. Why choose one that’s had so much negative press over the years. They were taken to court by a teacher who worked there and they lost. What does that tell you?”

“Recruiters are middlemen. At the very least, you should use one that has a website, physical address, and doesn’t hound you non-stop to take the job. That’s a sign of desperation and greed. I’m sure there are some good, honest recruiters at Aclipse as are there some dishonest ones. I haven’t used Aclipse myself, so I can’t comment.But knowing they recruit for CDI, would certainly steer me away from them.”

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