EPIK

EPIK (English Program in Korea)

About

EPIK, English Program in Korea, affiliated with the Korean Ministry of Education was established in 1995 with the missions of improving the English speaking abilities of students and teachers in Korea, to develop cultural exchange, and to reform English teaching methodologies in Korea.

EPIK extends invitations to responsible, enthusiastic native English speakers who are motivated to share knowledge with students and teachers. If you are looking for jobs in teaching, EPIK will be a great choice.

Through EPIK, English language education will help cultivate open-minded and well-rounded Korean individuals capable of advancing Korea in this age of information and globalization. In doing so, EPIK will promote cultural exchange and foster strong ties between Korea and other countries. If you wish to explore the world, teach English in Korea.

Website
epik.go.kr
Headquarters

#191
Jeongjail-ro
Bundang-gu
Seongnam-si
Gyeonggi-do
13557
South Korea

Reviews

Default avatar
Amanda
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I was placed in the province of Daejeon. I love this city as well as the school I was placed. My situation is unique because I have one school and all my co-teachers teach me with. This is unique because some people have two schools AND some people have co-teachers that say they will be in class helping but are not there/don't offer assistance. I would want future participants to know that it is crucial to manage expectations and remember that EVERYONE'S situation is different even though it is under the same program name. So much depends on the school, teachers, area, apartment, attitude of the principle, the peers you meet at orientation, ect.... Prepare yourself for any situation and remember that two people's times here is not 100% alike.

What would you improve about this program?
More Korean classes for incoming teachers during orientation. Makes a world of difference when trying to assimilate and connect to your students.
Default avatar
Scarlett
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I think that EPIK is an excellent choice if you want to teach abroad. The salary, free housing, medical benefits, vacation time, and paid flights to and from Korea, all make for a very nice contract. Since the EPIK program is through the Ministry of Education, your job is stable and secure. You're teaching with the public school board so you don't have the same anxieties that you would if you worked for a private school that could pack up and close down at any time leaving you stranded without a valid visa or salary.

When you apply to the program you need to remember that each individual teacher's experience varies a lot. On your application, you are allowed to request a city or province that you would prefer to work in. You can also request a level (elementary, middle, or high school) that you would prefer to teach. But regardless of your listed preferences, you could be placed anywhere. Generally, the vast majority of teachers only find out where they will be teaching AFTER they have already signed their contracts. You might teach at one school in a big city where you only have to teach 2 different grade levels. Or, you might live in a rural area and teach at up to 4 different schools. Its very rare, but some EPIK teachers end up in remote areas where the nearest native english teacher lives an hour away. There is no standard EPIK experience. Every position is different and comes with a different set of perks and challenges.

You have to be prepared for any outcome. If you're flexible and adaptable then whatever outcome you wind up with will probably work out fine for you. Most teachers I meet in Korea didn't get what they initially wanted when they applied but they love where they ended up.

This program has given me everything that I wanted as a newly graduated undergrad- I have my own apartment, I can save a little money each month, I have the time and money to travel, and I'm gaining teaching experience and learning a new language. I teach both elementary and middle school at 3 different schools and I live in a rural area. It's challenging but I love my job and I'm so happy that I applied to this program.

What would you improve about this program?
-I think it would be better for everyone if native english teachers knew WHERE they had been assigned BEFORE they signed their contract. This would allow teachers to better prepare for their positions and it would cut down on the number of people who make 'midnight runs' to leave their contract early.
Default avatar
Ellen
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I've never once regretted my decision to teach with EPiK. However, there are many factors at play and each teacher's experience is very different from the next. Orientation was informative and helpful but incredibly tiring. There was no WiFi which is kind of a big deal when you've just moved your whole life to the other side of the world. There was also never time to leave orientation to grab a real cup of coffee at a place that did have WiFi. It was non-stop lectures and workshops for 12 hours a day for 6 days.

My apartment and neighborhood was great. I really can't say anything bad about my living situation. Public transportation was very close to my apartment, the neighborhood packed with restaurants, stores, bars, pharmacies, cafes-- you name it!

My biggest complaint about EPiK is that there is very little accountability regarding co-teachers. Some are very helpful, value their native teachers, go out of their way to include them at school functions and strive to cultivate a strong co-teaching relationship from which the students greatly benefit. Others will provide little to no assistance even though that is part of their job (ie: setting up a bank account, going to the immigration office, etc.) and not put any effort into actually co-teaching. This is all a roll of the dice and it can be wonderful or downright dreadful.

What would you improve about this program?
EPiK is, for the most part, great. The standard for co-teachers needs to be higher and there should be more measures in place to ensure that good teachers (and, honestly, just decent people) are working as supervising co-teachers.

I would recommend EPiK for adventurous and PATIENT young teachers or people who are looking to get a start in language education.
Default avatar
Cathy
5/10
No, I don't recommend this program

1) You will teach alone at times, even though your coteacher is supposed to be there.
2) Your coteacher's level of English may be lower than your students.
3) You should have a basic understanding of Korean if you wish to teach effectively (especially to low level students) and manage a class by yourself.

I'm a pretty positive person, and I wouldn't give up this one year experience for anything since it has tested me in many ways (and I met someone special here). But this experience has been a far cry from what I expected. The biggest issue has been my visiting school, which is a 40 minute bus commute to a rural area outside the city (twice a week). I teach 4 afterschool classes a week without a co-teacher: 1st-2nd grade together and 3rd-6th grade together (the school is really small). If you've ever tried to teach/manage young students (1st-2nd grade) by yourself, you know it's a chore. Add to that the communication barrier and you've basically got a circus going. My 3rd-6th graders are extremely talkative and getting them to listen for longer than 5 seconds is difficult, not to mention finding activities that are level appropriate for all grades. Hence, my first semester was very stressful, to say the least.

Co-teaching is a challenge. Most EPIK teachers' grievances stem from problems with coteachers. You might have coteachers that use corporeal punishment, who can't manage the classroom, who undermine you by speaking solely in Korean, who teach the students incorrect English, or who sit in the break room and enjoy coffee while you teach. Thus, if you actually care about teaching your students English, you might find yourself -somewhat- frustrated. While I've experienced all the above (thus far), I currently have 2 experienced coteachers that I really enjoy teaching with this semester. You get the bad with the good.

With my intake, several issues have come up regarding breaches of contract. In fact, changes have been made to the contract (extending the minimum number of camp days) mid-way through the contract. When I contacted them regarding my summer vacation, they were very unwilling to accommodate my needs on the basis that I must follow the contract. I find it hypocritical that they can adjust the contract boundaries according to their needs but not mine.

As it stands it seems that EPIK offers better pay and vacation days than hagwons do. However, you should be prepared for ANY type of teaching situation, in ANY part of S.Korea. Only apply if you are prepared to be in a less-than-ideal setting.

Inez
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I have been teaching in South KOrea for about four months. I am enjoying the experience, I live comfortably in my rent free apartment and at my school the students are great. I have travelled so much during my four months year, I have a 12 month contract and have so much more to see and can't wait for weekends which I have free to explore Korea.
A great experience I would definitely recommend to friends.

What would you improve about this program?
The notice of acceptance with EPIK was way too short. I had four working days to get my three flights booked (to get here to SK), my visa sorted,get tax clearance, online orientation completed, packing my suitcases, shopping,and just getting my head around the fact that I am really going overseas for a year, which was my first time leaving home. I applied to teach but was only told a 6 days before I had to leave that I will be receiving my contract soon, therefore I got the job. That was stressful, I can't believe I got through all that lol I just graduated in april and was so chilled out and suddenly rush rush I am here now and settled in.

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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Nanette Olivier

Nanette Olivier is a 24 year old female from Stellenbosch, South Africa and is currently working as an English teacher in South Korea. She lived in a very small rural town, but in her last year of school received a scholarship at High School Stellenbosch where she matriculated. She enjoys living a healthy lifestyle, preparing and eating healthy food, exercising, and meeting new people.
Day in the Life of Nanette Olivier - English Teacher in Korea

Highlights: I came with the intention to learn and gain experience. That is exactly what happened. I’ve learned so much as to what type of teacher I want to and don’t want to be, how to handle certain situations and how to get through to certain students. I’m 99% Left Brain oriented, meaning that I’m an extremely conscientious person. So a changing schedule every single day, changed taking place within seconds was the biggest struggle for me. The language barrier, misinterpretations, communication failures, and just struggling to get helped with a simple question take a lot of patience and getting used to. Luckily my only 2 months experience I had before I came to Korea involved me working at an extremely poor, underprivileged Secondary School in South Africa. So the experience for me here in Korea has been much better than my experience back home. The benefits of the life lessons I’ve learned out way the negative experiences and struggles that I’ve encountered.

I come from South Africa. There, being a teacher isn’t as prestigious as in Korea. You work longer hours for more than less the amount of money. I was lucky enough to get a job that pays well. So financially it has definitely been worth it! I don’t think I could have chosen any other country that is more the opposite of South Africa. I can’t even think of one similarity. The language, food, humor, discipline, fashion, beliefs, religion, political views, housing, greetings, traditions, fruit, exports and imports, treats, take away, you name it, it’s different. So it will take me days to explain what this journey has meant for me. It’s also very hard to explain, one has to experience it! But a journey it has been indeed!

Classes: After waking up at around 7:30AM, I will get dressed and eat breakfast to prepare for school. It takes me around 10 minutes to walk to school so I leave at around 8:20. The all Boys School I see each class once a week. 90% of the time I have a co-teacher in the classroom. Grade 1 and 3 is a male in his 50's. He walks around at the back of the classroom and orders the students to pick up trash or to open the windows. When I ask him to translate something for me, he just ignores me. He would discipline students if I beg him. He would come in and leave throughout the class. He would deliberately ask the students to do the opposite of what I ask. He makes me look like a fool in front of my students, so I make sure to be in the classroom first and I just give my lessons without him. Luckily, the two Grade 3 classes I have, their English is good enough to understand me, but the problem comes with the first graders.

Nanette's schedule

Grade 2: I co-teach with a female in her late 40's. She sits at the back of the classroom on her laptop most of the time. The all Girls School I'm supposed to see the students once every two weeks, because classes are divided into Low Level and High Level. So one week I see the Low Level students and the next week the High Level students. I lose a lot of class time because of preparation for exams, field trips and Home room teachers. Basically, if they need time they use my classes. This means that I sometimes only see my students once a month. It's my opinion that not even the best teacher in the world can teach anything to these students in these circumstances. I try to look at the positive side. Most of the students looks forward to my English classes so at least I changed their mind set that learning English is fun. I have four co-teachers. 2 of them is for High level classes, but they've never been in the classroom with me. The other two teachers is for the Low-level classes. One of the teachers are always in my classroom, the other one sometimes doesn’t come. Then, I have to go to the teachers room and ask her to help me, because the students don't understand a word I'm saying.

Both Schools want me to teach the speaking sections in the Textbooks that they provided(different textbooks at both schools). The student's don't take exam/tests or even have any form of assessment on the work I teach; students only get assessed on Writing and Listening. I assessed the students in the first semester, but the teachers didn't want to use my marks. So I don't assess the students anymore, and the classes I don't have co-teachers, I use my own materials.

Prep Time: Since I only teach 3/4 classes per day, I have more than enough time to prepare for my classes at school. If I have to teach out of the textbook, I just decide on an appropriate Ice breaker activity and go through the Speaking Section in the Textbook (takes about 15 min). If I do a Powerpoint Presentation, I search for Presentations on the Textbook Lesson Topics (takes about 2-3 hours).

Nanette with her students

Evening: After classes end, I have the rest of the day to myself. I go grocery shopping and then head home. I cook dinner, relax, do some house chores, read, and watch television. At around 8PM, I will go to Taebo, a total body fitness system.