Teach and Learn in Korea (TaLK)

Program Reviews

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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.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Best abroad program

This program is safe, fun, and exciting. The programs orientation provides wonderful information and intro to south Korean teaching. The schools are small with kind kids wanting to learn. Best place to make friends all over the world

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Yes, I recommend this program

Great people not so great support

I was lucky, I had a great school with really nice teachers and facilities but one down side was I had no textbook to teach with so I had to make my own materials from scratch and that was really difficult.
The lack of co-teacher was another troubling point. There was only 1 co-teacher in my province but we had 3 TaLK scholars. There was a university 30 mins away from my school so I don't see why they couldn't have gotten someone from there to help out. It was really difficult trying to control the students when they didn't speak good English.
I found you get a lot of support during Orientation, but after that it's really just you on your own. The TaLK office has nothing to do with you after you go to your province.
The other foreign English teachers I met were really nice people and we made a network together. So overall it was ok.

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Yes, I recommend this program

TaLK: Six Months That Can Change Everything

I have nothing but great things to say about the Teach and Learn in Korea program. The gist of the program is to place native speakers into rural Korean after-school public classrooms and help foster a love of the English language in elementary EFL learners. The wage is not as much as EPIK teachers, but you also only work 3 hours a day. Flight is paid, housing is paid. As a "scholar" even get culture money to fund your own adventures and are provided with Korean classes.

The truth: The TaLK program changed my life. I am now in school to get my MA in TESOL and plan on going back to Korea for curriculum development. There is a one-month training session in which you learn how to teach and make tons of new friends. Korean food is some of the most delicious in the world. I had several mishaps while in Korea and the support staff was always timely in their replies. I never once fely unsafe. My school was rural, as stated in description of the program, but I felt completely welcomed and honored to teach there. Ample supplies, technologies and assistance were available in my classroom.

Downsides: Communication with your school can be difficult. Expectations are not clearly stated and miscommunications can be common and relentlessly frustrating. It's important to keep in mind that you are teaching a voluntary after-school class and that attendance is optional so you have to be fun and flexible in the classroom. Some people had bad experiences, but I also faced many challenges with my school. It is important to remember to always keep a positive attitude towards any dealings with your school or the Office of Education.

In summation: you're paid 1,500 a month to work 3 hours a day and teach adorable Korean school children and have a fantastic experience learning about Korean culture.

If you have two years of college under your belt and are looking for a life-changing experience, I have only one question-- Why haven't you already applied?!

Read my full story
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No, I don't recommend this program

TALK application process, NOT the program!

I never actually ended up participating on the TALK programme, only applied. My warning to prospective applicants is to be prepared to go through a very lengthly application process. I had to go for an in person interview, obtain criminal record checks, get an apostille (none of which were explained very clearly), resubmit a lesson plan until it was of a very high standard, have to obtain two quality academic references. Also this all has to be done, ideally within two months of the participation deadline, otherwise your application may be deferred to the next cycle, like mine was. None of the expenses for crimical disclosure and transport were reimbursed. I'm sure the experience itself is a great one, but make sure that you have enough available time, and are willing to use all your resources to get through the application. Also, there were unclear instructions about their contact number of their website, and the website was quite slow.

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No, I don't recommend this program

New program... has a lot of kinks to be worked out

I love teaching and I love working oversease. However, I have encountered many problems with my school. I think I am just at a "problem school."

Unfortunately the TaLK program has been little help with the issues I've had with my school.

If I had to do it again I would have chosen the Epik program. It pays MUCH better and I think a person would run into the same problems with either program.