Teach and Learn in Korea (TaLK)

Why choose Teach and Learn in Korea (TaLK)?

The Teach and Learn in Korea (TaLK) Program invites young, adventurous college students and recent graduates to teach English to elementary school students living in the rural areas of South Korea. Funded by the Ministry of Education and administered under the National Institute for International Education, the TaLK Program aims to cultivate a strong desire to learn English through the use of innovative and engaging classroom teaching methods designed by the our own program's participants. While teaching, participants will have the opportunity to learn about the many facets of Korean culture and find time to travel to distinct regions of the Korean peninsula. TaLK is the perfect program for those who aspire to be global leaders, who seek to gain personal and professional enrichment through teaching, and who are highly adaptable to new environments.



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Yes, I recommend this program

Great program to get your feet wet before potentially immersing yourself in teaching English

TaLK was the first program I joined to experience (and get paid for) teaching English. For the most part, it was great. I made some good friends and I definitely had a chance to get my feet wet prior to joining EPIK (the big brother version of TaLK). I only worked 15 hours a week and classes were no bigger than 20 students where I lived in Gangwon-do.

However, I would be lying if I said it didn't have room to improve since at least in my area, I had a boss who was reluctant to help secure any funds for the classroom. I had a lot of six and seven-year-olds who could barely speak any English and for most of my time there at the school, I was expected to teach these classes alone. Therefore the occasional artsy and crafty classes were necessary. We couldn't just play with paper and crayons for entire semesters because it would be the same group of kids three to five times a week. But, my co-teacher/boss simply said that there wasn't enough money to go around. In other words, I was on my own and many times I had to purchase classroom materials with my own money. Keep in mind we only get paid to barely eat and survive. I understand that TaLK is a national program that is broken down into several divisions so I can only speak for my town at the time in Wonju-si, Gangwon-do but there is a lot of room for improvement.

Apart from my school overall the provincial office of education in Gangwon was generally friendly and helpful. During my time there we always had helpful TaLK coordinators at the province and local city level. I could always talk to them with ease about anything concerning work. But in the end the people you will be working with the most will be your school and that's the risk you take when you apply to this program. You literally can get anything, work with anyone, and end up anywhere. For example, even though I was placed in Gangwon-do--a place Seoullites usually refer to using only two descriptions: mountains and no people--I was placed in the largest city there whereas some of my friends were placed not too far from the North Korean border.

So if there is any advice I can offer, just be prepared for anything, anyone, and anywhere in South Korea. If you can do that, you will find a way to make it the best experience you can.

What would you improve about this program?
More structure and details regarding classroom material funds.
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Yes, I recommend this program

TaLK is a great, but not flawless, program


The "Teach and Learn in Korea" (TaLK) program allows prospective "TaLK Scholars" (English Teachers) the ability to teach, travel, and reside in South Korea. Airfare and accommodation are taken care of by the provinces and a generous stipend is paid to the Scholar on a monthly basis. While certainly not an extravagant salary, it is very fair considering the amount of hours worked (15 per week) and the country's cost of living.


Hands down, the best part of the TaLK program, for me, were the new people I got to meet. As part of TaLK, you are assigned a co-teacher - sometimes more than one - native to your region who assists you in managing your classes. It was a pleasure getting to know and work alongside these people. Not only were they a massive help in the classroom but they were selfless outside of it too. They acquainted us with our region, were our gateway into the Korean culture (e.g. introducing us to the language & cuisine), and were always there to lend a helping hand if we needed one. I can't say enough good things about them. They were some of my closest friends while abroad and the highlight of my experience.

Getting to experience Korea, firsthand, was my second favorite aspect of TaLK. I was located in Jeju which is an island off the southern coast of the country. Comprised of blue beaches, caves, cliffs, waterfalls, mountains, hiking trails, and greenery, it was the most beautiful place I have ever lived in and will likely ever live in. To get a cursory idea for its beauty, google Hyeopjae beach, Cheonjeyeon waterfall, Jusangjeolli cliff, Donnaeko valley, and Seongsan sunrise peak (to name a few). Four years after the fact and I still miss being a stone's throw away from these places.


My one gripe with TaLK lied in how it was managed. Management (i.e. the Ministry of Education as well as the faculty of one's assigned school), in my opinion, were too hands-off and never clearly indicated what TaLK should accomplish.

When I was in the program, teachers were given complete autonomy over their curriculum and respective classrooms. Management hardly oversaw us. This lack of oversight sounded great on paper but was troublesome for two reasons. Firstly, the majority of people in the program - myself included - did not have a background in education and could have used greater direction while on the job. Granted, we were paired with Korean co-teachers who had insight into the classroom culture of Korea but they, like us, often had minimal teaching experience. Add to this the fact that there were no concrete learning objectives articulated by the program and what you had - to put it bluntly - was a questionably managed, structureless class with no clear direction. The second issue with the lack of managerial oversight was complacency. When you're scarcely overseen and are not working towards specific goals, it's easy to become complacent and fall into a predictable routine. Not knowing what exactly was expected of me, I often resorted to recycling teaching materials and playing ESL games with the students far more often than I should have. Between my students' EPiK classes (another government-funded ESL program in Korea; TaLK's "bigger brother", if you will) and regular English classes, it was difficult to see where my classes fit into the mix.

Another flaw of management lied in how they conducted performance evaluations. Evaluations took the form of "model classes" where the faculty of the school (i.e. homeroom teachers, the vice-principal, the principal, and sometimes parents) sat in on a day's worth of your lessons once per semester. The issue with these model classes was that they were hardly an authentic representation of how the typical TaLK class was run. The first and most obvious reason being was that students would act considerably more composed in front of elder Korean faculty and their parents than they would around a younger foreign teacher (respect for elders is a Confucian value which runs deep in Korean society). Seeing the children on their best behaviour may have presented the illusion that the TaLK teacher was in complete control of the class when, in all likelihood, this was not normally the case. Secondly, the model classes were scheduled well in advance and so it was possible to rehearse their content with one's students to ensure a positive score during the day of the evaluation. A fix to both of these situations would be to incorporate inconspicuous and spontaneous evaluations 2-3 times throughout the semester to get an actual picture of how the TaLK classroom is being run.

The Ministry of Education in Korea likely caught on to some of the things I noted above as the program's efficacy was recently called into question and the program itself nearly got cancelled. Fortunately, it wasn't. I hope it now has a renewed focus. I do think TaLK has the potential to be a great learning tool for Korean students provided it sets clearer expectations of its teachers. It's also a great avenue to experience another part of the world for those who want a change of pace or would like to pursue a career in education.

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Yes, I recommend this program

TaLK in Jeju

I was with TaLK for one year, teaching elementary school in Jeju. The program was pretty amazing! I had the chance to work closely with some pretty awesome children, while developing my own teaching skills. The program starts off with a one month long orientation, which was pretty useful, but had long hours. We had some intro Korean lessons, which were very useful, and the chance to get tips from people who knew what they were doing.

There was an additional orientation at your local region. That gave me the chance to get to know the other scholars in the region. I hear that in other provinces the teachers are more spread out, but because I was on Jeju, most people were pretty close by. On the one hand, that provided a good support network for us when we were learning to lesson plan and how to deal with our new students. On the other, it did mean we didn't get the isolated experience in Korea that some of our peers on the mainland got, which could be a good or a bad thing depending on what you're looking for.

Overall fairly good support, though it really came down to your school.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Program!

This was an amazing program. I was so happy to have been part of TaLK. They really took care of me and I was able to experience Korea! It was a great to teach elementary students and really help them with their future. I made connections all over Korea and even made friends from all over the world.

The 3 week orientation is great too! I would have to say that the organized field trips and scavenger hunts were my favorite part of the orientation. The reason for this is because it gave the TaLK scholars opportunities to work with and get to know one another in an enjoyable setting. They were also structured enough to keep the groups busy, but casual enough to still have freedom to explore and experience Korea.

Most of the lectures from orientation are very applicable to what I will be doing in my assigned school. I can see the depth and detail the TaLK Program must have gone through to put together such an organized and diverse lecture load. Since I am fairly well accustomed to the Korean culture, I was able to reap the most benefits from the lectures involving teaching techniques.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Experience

South Korea is an amazing country in itself. The culture is rich and the people are respectful. I had a wonderful time there.

The Teach and Learn in Korea Program offers a month of training to prepare you for what you will encounter in the school. They work hard to make sure that training is fun and relevant.

If you are the first to teach at your school, you will receive assistance in finding an apartment and money to furnish it. If you are not the first person, then you will have to just settle with what the person before you purchased.

We received three large books filled with teaching materials. It helped a lot. The activities are placed in subject order. It would be more helpful if the materials were separated into grade level sections.

My school was really kind to me. We had staff dinners and even a weekend trip to the mountains. I had loads of fun.

The TaLK program has so many benefits. The pay is very generous seeing as though your only real expense is food. In the program you only work 15 hours a week. This gives you a lot of free time. Explore the country.

I plan to go back to S. Korea. It was truly amazing.

Alumni Interviews

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

Charlotte Jones

What originally inspired you to teach in South Korea with TaLK?

Well, I knew I always wanted to teach overseas but I was extremely apprehensive about the costs of an experience abroad. With the TaLK program, you make money teaching and learning about Korea! It's perfect, and they cater to students who are currently earning their degree. They offer 5 month, 6 month, and 12 month contracts depending on your school schedule. Even being a big scaredy cat, I figured I could do anything for 6 months, so I decided to apply.

Describe your day to day activities as a teacher?

I taught grades kindergarten through sixth beginner-level English in a public after-school program. Hours with the TaLK program are unbelievably comfortable, which made many of my friends in EPIK acutely jealous. I went in from 12:00-4:00, usually teaching only 3 classes per day with the same students everyday. My classes were usually small, no larger than 15 students, which allowed for excellent individualized attention. I prepared all of my lessons before class, usually in one-week long unit-blocks addressing one main language target through a variety of different activities. With TaLK I had the freedom to design my own lessons and create unique, innovative ways to teach English.

How has this experience impacted your future?

My experience with the TaLK program vastly impacted my future. After graduating with a degree in psychology, I was severely lacking in direction and really wasn't sure which profession I would end up pursuing. However, as soon as I stepped foot into my classroom in South Korea, I knew what I wanted to do. Currently I am back home in the US pursuing my MA in education and plan to go abroad again as soon as I'm finished. I can't wait to go back.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Stella Cho

Job Title
PR Coordinator at TaLK

Tell us a little about the TaLK program?

Our program is sponsored by the Korean government (Ministry of Education, Science and Technology) and it is managed by a government organization in charge of training and cultivating international human resources and providing scholarships for exchange students (National Institute for International Education. The government's priority is to maintain quality education for future generations. The Korean government understands the value of providing immersion education that is authentic; so while keeping a national curriculum, they support this with a program such as TaLK.

How many interns has the TaLK program had?

The TaLK program trains successful program applicants twice a year (once in February, once in August) and generally accepts about 250 new participants every time [500/year]. We have over 1,200 TaLK scholars who have successfully completed their service in Korea and have returned home with a Korean government scholarship certificate.

What growth have you seen in the need for and recruitment of English-speaking volunteers in Korea?

TaLK has become more competitive since 2008 and this is evident in the rising number of applicants that we have every semester (and the high retention rate of our current participants who want to hold on to their positions at their designated elementary schools).