Gyeonggi English Program in Korea (GEPIK) is a flagship initiative of GPOE as a driving force for achieving dynamic and quality English education in our schools by inviting young and educated individuals from English speaking countries.


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No, I don't recommend this program

I was recommended to apply for the GEPIK program this year because I enjoy teaching and it would be beneficial experience in terms of what I want to accomplish in my career at home. (I want to be a teacher in the States.)

However, since I started working with GEPIK, I have experienced nothing but disappointment regarding my school, the administration of GEPIK, and how issues are handled. When I was interviewing with my school, I was given the impression that I would have materials (books, worksheets, lessons from the previous teacher) available for me to use. I was also told that the students at my school were excited about having an English teacher and were eager to learn. Those two things couldn't have been further from the truth. I arrived to find no materials from the previous teacher and books that I couldn't teach from because the Korean teachers were using them instead. When I attempted to make my own lessons piggybacking off the interesting parts of the books, I was told to play games for all of my classes. Even games get boring after a while, for both teacher and student alike.

In the beginning, I spent a lot of time planning lessons and making materials on my own, only to find that the lessons I spent time making interesting and fun were a waste. English was the last priority of both the students and faculty at my school, and a co-teacher even went so far to tell me that these students were destined for careers that would never require them to know another language, so they knew they wouldn't have to pay attention or make an effort. It baffled me how then the administration would go through all the time and trouble it takes to get a foreign teacher if they weren't planning on utilizing the teacher effectively. It made any effort I put into my lessons useless, and made classes a daily struggle.

I've also had to pull teeth (so to speak) to make sure that my school honors my contract with regards to sick days, vacation, and my apartment. In September I had surgery and had a doctor's note stating that I needed to stay at home and rest for a week. The surgery was scheduled over the Chuseok and Founding Day holidays, so minimal amounts of school would be missed. Even with a month's early notice and a doctor's note, I was denied my sick days and forced to come to school while sick and in pain. When I contacted the GEPIK administrators to ask for help and clarification about sick days, I received no response. The leadership in GEPIK has been on rocky terms for a while now, and no one is really sure who is in charge of what these days. At my orientation they promised to help us teachers with our school concerns, but in my experience and from others' experiences over the past year, that is not the case.

Many people are upset that GEPIK is cutting the budget for next year's middle and high school positions, and understandably so. There are good schools in the GEPIK program, but they are hard to find and what few jobs are left will be hard-fought among teachers here. However, with less money for the program next year, I have to wonder how much more this will affect how GEPIK responds to its current and future teachers.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Unfortunately, Gepik is hanging on by a thread. Following Seoul's SMOE lead, Gepik has removed teachers from high school and middle schools. If you are interested in this program then you will be working at an elementary school. My personality and patience does not match this work environment but if you see yourself teaching little (cute) kiddies, then Gepik will pay for your services. Expect fierce competition as many teachers in Korea are trying to stay here. Which leads me to the positives, Korea is an fantastic place to work and live. The people, food, culture, cities, the expat community, entertainment, and prime location to travel abroad to other countries, etc. all come together to give you a true adventure and life long memories and friendships. It is a really safe place too. Gepik doesn't really do much in the day to day aspects of teaching in Korea. You are pretty much on your own and find answers through other expats or online resources. You report to your school and rarely interact with Gepik officials/coordinators. What Gepik does do is pay your salary, they take care of the politics of foreigners teaching in Korea, find funding, etc. They also provide an annual 3 day training trip which is great to meet other teachers in your area. Right now I would not recommend working with a Gepik school as every year they have been downsizing due to budget cuts. Most teachers come for a year but stay longer because the life here is amazing, so I recommend looking else where because moving across the world is difficult and settling in with a stable organization is one aspect you can correctly make in the beginning. Currently as of Dec. 2012 Gepik isn't acting like a stable organization, more like one that is about to fold up shop. Lots of teachers here with Gepik are scrambling to find new schools as next year's budget cut hundreds of jobs. The public sentiment over here is changing as well... Koreans have a lessened a bit the need to import English speakers, the craze is dying down as the world's financial gloom has Koreans cutting costs across the board. Learning Chinese is increasing in popularity as well, taking away from the English dominated ESL business. Well that's enough on that... Overall, I enjoyed my time with Gepik; always felt respected, taken care of, and appreciated, for this I am grateful for all the people of Gepik.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Hey Everybody,

My name is Adam and I've been teaching English in the GEPIK program for the last 4 years. I'm originally from Cleveland, Ohio and after graduating college wanted to travel and do some good in the world. I did my research online and came to the conclusion that GEPIK was the safest bet. I originally planned on spending 1 year abroad, but I've been been in Korea for the last 4 years (haven't gone home since I got here) and can't say enough about my experience. The support and encouragement has kept me happy, comfortable, and stable in my stay abroad.

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Yes, I recommend this program

GEPIK is a great program for people looking to teach in Korea (old and new). The places where you are placed are close enough to Seoul, so you can live the big city life while living in peace in a smaller town. Staff are helpful Hours and pay are good.

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Yes, I recommend this program

I switched to a GEPIK school after a year in a hagwon, and I couldn't be happier. The work load is bearable, the hours are great, and the benefits are great! Lots of vacation time, good support from GEPIK as well as school staff. Some cons: Deskwarming, large class sizes, not able to get to know students personally.


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Alumni Interviews

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

Adam Pancoe

Adam Pancoe is from Youngstown, Ohio and currently teaches English at Pureun Elementary School near Seoul. He enjoys movies, gyros, and preacher curls.

What inspired you to teach ESL?

I was a recent college graduate from a small town in Ohio. I got hired right out of university doing marketing research, but was let go when my company began down-sizing. The few months after being let go gave me time to think about what I wanted to do with my life going forward. I had seen too many of my friends and peers become stuck in dead end jobs, in trouble with the law or drugs, and just unhappy overall with the choices they made for their lives. I had always wanted to travel and see the things I read about in books throughout my years in school.

On top of that, I felt like working with children would be something exciting, rewarding, and would give me a sense of accomplishment. After looking all over the internet for videos, interviews, and other info about what exactly teaching English abroad was really like, I decided to go for it. I was single, healthy, and able to pick up and leave. I figured I could travel and help children, essentially killing two birds with one stone.

Why did you choose GEPIK?

After a long process of weighing the pros and cons of teaching English in different countries, I decided on Korea. From my research, I came to understand teaching English in public schools were the most desired positions. I began contacting recruiters, agencies, and blasting out my resume. I dealt with more than a few recruiters that weren’t very professional, but that changed when I started my application process with GEPIK. They were very quick to answer all of my questions and concerns and I didn’t feel the pressure to “hurry up and sign” a contract with them. I spent roughly 2 months emailing back and forth with GEPIK representatives about different teaching positions, necessary documents, and cultural questions. They were more than happy to help with everything and really stood out among all the other recruiters, companies, and agencies I spoke with.

Describe your day to day activities as a teacher in Korea.

Monday-Friday I work at Pureun Elementary School, a large elementary school about 45 min south of Seoul. I teach English grammar, vocabulary, and culture classes to 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students. I am in the classroom from 9am-1pm and from 1pm-4:30pm I have office hours where I help students with English homework, projects, and other general teacher duties. Being the only English teacher at my school, many times I’m asked by other teachers and administrative staff to proofread or check English documents or help with personal questions they may have concerning English education or culture. After 4:30pm, I’m out the door and usually head to the gym and then home.

How has this experience impacted your future?

This experience has literally changed my life. I feel like I’ve grown into a more patient, understanding, and independent person. Beyond the personal changes, I feel my experiences living and working alone in a foreign country have made me more valuable for future employers.

What is one piece of advice you would give to others thinking about teaching abroad?

My advice would be to do your homework and keep an open mind. If you’re serious about making a life change, spend time researching and comparing the different opportunities you find. There’s only so much you can look up online or on blogs though, there comes a point where you just have to let go of everything and make a decision for yourself.