Teaching options in Korea with an M.A. in TESOL?
Question asked –
I’ll finish my M.A in TESOL in the spring of 2017. I want to apply for English teaching jobs in Korea. Where should I start? Are recruiters that bad? I’ve been looking at the EPIK public school program. Hagwons are out as I’ve read awful things about them. I think with an M.A. I’d qualify for EPIK. Any advice?
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“Hey, you’ve got an M.A in TESOL. What about teaching ESL at a university?”
I don’t have any teaching experience, unfortunately. Is it still possible? I’ve looked at university teaching jobs. They all want at least 2 years experience with an M.A.
“If you apply at the universities in satellite cities outside of Seoul, you might get a job. Seoul universities get thousand of applications and you’d need at least 2 years of teaching experience + an M.A or even a Ph.D.”
“Without any teaching experience it’ll be tough. Universities don’t usually count hagwon experience and you don’t even have that. Best to get a job for 2 years with EPIK and then apply to universities in Seoul and area.”
“If one of the smaller cities like Pohang, can’t get candidates with 2 years experience they’ll certainly bend the rules and hire someone without the obligatory 2 years of teaching experience, since you’ve got a Masters. Scout out all the universities and email the English departments. A university job is by far better than even working for EPIK.”
“Watch the Korean ESL job boards for university roles. There are several here.You won’t have to use a recruiter to get a university job. Universities just don’t need them since they get enough applicants and don’t have issues communicating with applicants in English like a hagwon or maybe EPIK would.”
Will my English teaching job application still be accepted if I used an FBI Channeler?
I recently read on a US embassy site in Seoul that Korean immigration doesn’t accept criminal record checks processed through private online services, including those offered by certain US states and private agencies. Korean immigration requires that US nationals send a CBC apostilled by the FBI or a local police department where one lives. Does this mean websites like myfbirereport.com, which I used are out?
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“Your CBC must have an FBI stamp. When you go through a channeler they do run an FBI background check and as long as it’s appostilled, you should be fine.”
“I used an FBI channeler for my job several months ago. There was no issue. I had it apostilled by the FBI. As long as it gets rubber stamped by the FBI, Korean immigration should approve it.”
“I believe what you’re talking about is certain states in the US that have online criminal check systems. This is the case in Washington state. Nothing wrong with FBI channellers. They do the same background check and are approved by the FBI. They are also much faster!”
“I used nationalbackgrouncheck.com. It was processed without hitch.”
“Make sure the channeler is approved by the Feds. Nationalbackgroundcheck and myfbireport are both approved.”
Want to teach in Korea. Concerned about the health statement and my anxiety medication.
I’ve heard that if you have a mental issue, even mild anxiety, Korean recruiters will drop you like a stone. I’m applying for an E2 visa and there’s a question asking if I’ve been treated for mental disorder. I would hardly say manageable anxiety is a mental problem, but I don’t want to say “yes” and then get denied the visa after going through whole application process. I’ve been taking Klonopin and Xanax for anxiety and can manage it. Assuming I say NO to the mental disorder question, but my health test shows up with Xanax in my blood, am I disqualified from teaching in Korea?,
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“Don’t tell them. Teachers just don’t reveal this condition to recruiters. It doesn’t sound like your condition is severe. You can still bring your medication to Korea and keep using it of course. There is a chance your drugs could show up in the blood test. A false positive might lead to questions from the school about what drugs you’ve been taking. You’d have to come clean and tell them that you’re on anxiety medication. And you’ll already be in Korea and may then get denied the job.”
“Denied means getting deported because you lied on an official Korean legal document. I’d think through this one, if I were you.”
“Why don’t you consult with your doctor back home about how long the anxiety medication stays in your system and if it would show up on a drug test. Some teachers stop taking their anxiety medication prior to having the Korean health check. Not sure if this is a good idea or if it works, but it may be an option. It’s your health and your disclosure. Ultimately you have to decide what’s best for you.”
If I were to drop Klonopin and just take Xanax, which I’ve heard clears the body in a few days, then take the test, pass and then get a prescription for Klonopin from a Korean doctor would that work?
“It’s easy to get Klonopin from a Korean doctor, OTC. It’s a good drug and helps me tremendously. I manage Korea just fine with it.”
“I think the bigger picture question you should be asking yourself is… given that you have anxiety issues is teaching in Korea right for you? This place can be a stress box.”
“Korea isn’t that bad. Everyone has their drug of choice to combat the daily issues that Korea brings on. Some drink soju, others smoke, others take medication. We all have our coping mechanisms for surviving in a foreign country without family. Regardless of whatever country you’re in, you’re going to experience some anxiety. ‘
“The mental disorder question is a black and white question. If you say yes, you wont’ get hired. For Koreans, a mental disorder is a mental disorder. They don’t recognize that there are varying degrees of mental stress ranging from very mild and manageable to extreme and unmanageable. You decide. But it you really want to come to Korea, then bury it during the application stage.”
Question about the letter of release EPIK?
I’m applying for the EPIK program in 2017. EPIK is asking for letters of recommendation to include with my teaching application. Problem is: My reference no longer works at the company where I was previously employed. So, I can’t get his reference on an official company letterhead or get his business card. Should I fake an official company letterhead? My second reference is somebody I knew, but he’s not a work colleague. He can judge for my character but that’s it. Any advice?
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“Even if your reference is no longer working at the same company where you both worked, you can ask for a letter of reference from him and he can use his current company letterhead, or business card. He can state on the reference that you were previously employed together at “Company ABC”. I don’t think that’s an issue. If you have a strong character witness, then use it. The fact that you are providing references is better than no references. It’s just paperwork. Ultimately, you’ll be judged on whether you have the academic qualifications, experience and personality to teach with EPIK. References are just pro-forma paperwork. A reference, is a reference is a reference.”
“Just send the two references to your recruiter. I don’t think they will spot anything unusual. If they do you have an explanation for your friend who has now moved on to another company. As for your other friend, make sure they write down where they are currently employed and how many years they have known you and what makes you a good fit for teaching overseas.”
“Are you applying directly through the EPIK website or using a recruiter?”
Nope. I’m going to use Korvia. They have a good reputation, from what I’ve read online.
“I doubt the recruiter or EPIK will even contact your reference if they’re not in Korea. Get the paperwork done and put the letter of reference on your reference’s previous company letterhead. This is as simple as grabbing their logo and dropping it into an MS word document. Hopefully, your reference will be okay with that. If not, ask him to put it on his current company’s letterhead.”
I’m 35, but with Master’s in TESOL. Am I too old to teach in Korea?
I have 8 years of teaching experience in Korea, but I’m now back home in Canada. I’d love to go back to Korea since it’s so boring back here. I really enjoyed the expat lifestyle in the ROK and want to return. Given my age is against me, what are my chances?
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“There are some teachers over 40 teaching in Korea. Most universities will let you teach until your 65. Since you’ve got a M.A. and 8 years teaching experience already in Korea, I think you’d be more than qualified.”
“Given your background and age, I wouldn’t suggest the hagwon route. You’re obviously overqualified for private language schools and hagwons seek out the twenty generation crowd. So, your age would be against you.”
“Go for a university in Korea no matter where it is. I’m sure you’ll want to travel around Asia a bit and return home during semester breaks. Can’t do that with a hagwon job, or less with a public school position than a uni…”
“I’m still teaching in Korea and pushing 40. I don’t have a Master’s degree, but have found a comfortable little hagwon in Seoul and my students are marvellous. Not the most glamorous job in the world nor does it pay much, but I’ve got a few businessmen I tutor one to one on the weekends. I keep fit hiking the Seoul mountains and tend to hang out with younger people, so that keeps me youthful. Age is just a number, my friend. You’ll carve out a lifestyle in Korea again. Keep applying.
“Have you considered teaching at an international school? They wouldn’t discriminate age, I don’t think. And you can teach at an international school for a very long time, in most countries.”
I don’t have a teaching license nor have I ever taught in a public school, so international schools are out.
“It’s trendy right now for men who are approaching middle age especially those who have divorced, and don’t have kids, or financial obligations to want to move to Asia to teach English. Given the political climate and economies back home, who wouldn’t? All the best to you!”
“Uni jobs are where the older teachers are. You teach only 10-15 hours a week, plenty of vacations, and you get to work with adults. (Well, sort of… Korean college students tend to be a little on the immature side even at 19 years old since the majority of them live at home and have never had a part-time job, and are not very independent). Nonetheless, you’re not teaching kids at a university.”
“I’ve seen teachers in their late 30’s and early 40’s teaching at winter and summer English camps in Korea. When I spoke with most of them, several came from Thailand to teach in Korea and make enough money to support themselves for another 6 months living in Bangkok.”
“Geez, 35 isn’t very old! If you can actually get over here first and apply in person, then you’ll get a teaching job faster because you can demonstrate how active and interesting you are. On paper, your 35 and it could go against you. Make sure your photo looks younger.”
“If you hate living back home and want to come to Korea, then do it! No sense in being unhappy. There’s a job for every foreigner here in Korea if you look hard enough for it. Given your experience and academic background, you should go the university route. It may take you a semester or two to get hired, but be patient, network with other foreign professors via Facebook and LinkedIn and you’ll nab something.”