Teach English in South Korea and get TEFL certified with CIEE
78% Rating
(20 Reviews)

Teach English in South Korea and get TEFL certified with CIEE

Teach in Asia in 2018, and get paid!
Looking for a way to travel and teach abroad and still earn a competitive salary? CIEE can help you make it happen! Our Teach Abroad programs in China and South Korea start in February 2018. Teach in Thailand has one and two-semester opportunities with start dates in May 2018. See you there!

South Korea offers you the opportunity to gain teaching experience and see the world while earning a competitive salary and enjoying rent-free housing. This is a great choice for someone getting ready for a teaching career, or someone who wants to work abroad while paying off student loans, for example. Placements are available in major urban areas throughout Korea, including greater Seoul!

CIEE's Teach Abroad program will get you ready with our 150 hour TEFL Certification and Teacher Preparation course, as well as assistance with applications and job interviews. Before you go, you'll discuss cultural considerations as well as practicalities so you know what to expect, and you'll have a safety net of support from our in-country team.

Locations
Asia » South Korea
Length
1 Year+
Salary / Benefits
- Competitive monthly salary of 2.0 million to 2.7 million won
- Rent-free studio apartment from your employer
- Contract completion bonus (1 month's salary)
- Schools either buy or reimburse a one-way ticket
- Health Insurance
Classroom Audience
Children
Accommodation
Apartment
Inclusions
Accommodation
Airfare
Currency
USD

Program Reviews

  • Benefits
    75%
  • Support
    79%
  • Fun
    76%
  • Facilities
    71%
  • Safety
    74%
  • Instruction
    97%
  • Support
    100%
  • Value
    97%
  • Difficulty
    80%
  • Job Assistance
    100%

Program Reviews (20)

Default avatar
shaunda
Female
28 years old
South Korea
Clark Atlanta University

South Korea-CIEE

8/10

My experience has been very positive. I started about a month ago teaching in Seocheon. My apartment is descent a little dirty when I moved in. I teach at two schools with amazing teachers. The other teachers have been helpful. Sagan with CIEE was amazing. Sagan was was who I worked with back in USA. She assisted me throughout the processed and answered any questions that I had. She has been very helpful and is still there to help me out when needed. I met many new friends at CIEE orientation. The orientation was fun and very well organized. So far I am very happy with my experience in South Korea and with CIEE.

Default avatar
Alberto
Male
30 years old
United States
Florida State University

CIEE

10/10

My overall experience with CIEE has been phenomenal. The recruiters were able to place me in South Korea just as I was about to finish my course. They were understanding of my situation to complete my hours for tefl so they allowed me to finish them after I arrived in South Korea. Once I got to Korea, CIEE and their wonderful people have provided me with so much aid to help me get situated not only in Korea but with my school. If you're ever considering applying anywhere in Korea. I would recommend CIEE to anyone.

How can this program be improved?

More helpful links for new teachers and list of all available staff in Korea in case of additional help.

Default avatar
Todd
Male
56 years old
Chungju, South Korea
University of Pennsylvania

Great Job at CIEE

10/10

I could not give a higher recommendation to Alexandra (Sagan) Pope and to Luke Beland at CIEE. They did an outstanding job in helping me navigate the difficult process involved with the EPIK application. Their consistently good advice saved me along the way and guided me to a successful application. The CIEE TEFL Certificate was outstanding and provided me with the necessary background to begin teaching English in South Korea.

Default avatar
Pamela
Female
57 years old
Yeongju in South Korea
University of Michigan

A great advocate

10/10

I found CIEE after a disappointing incident.
My goal was to return to South Korea as a guest English teacher.
My purpose was to re-enter the workforce over the age of 50.

It was not an easy goal to attain and I needed an advocate and I found that in Luke Beland. He knows how to penetrate bureaucracy, i.e leave no stone unturned.

He was honest about the endless hurdles. His presence during the 13 months was systematic.

I understood the last hurdle. I could jump it but Korea could decide differently.

Korea was concerned about my health and stamina. I, now, find this to be an accurate concern. This experience could be likened to the World Senior Games.

I could not have done this without CIEE and specifically, Luke Beland.

How can this program be improved?

Give Luke Beland a raise.

Default avatar
John
Male
24 years old
Sejong City, South Korea
University of New England

First Year Teaching

9/10

This is my first year teaching, which is already daunting by itself, let alone doing it in a foreign country. I chose CIEE because I had already studied abroad with them in Korea and knew it was a program with a lot of support and benefits like cultural excursions among other things. The support system has been great both in Korea and during the application process back home. When I looked at the EPIK application, I knew I wanted a methodical and organized way of tackling all the paperwork which was exactly what the CIEE study abroad course was. They take you through each step of the process and set deadlines to make sure you stay on top of everything.

I feel the TEFL class was also extremely useful in preparing me for the real classroom, and I use a ton of what I learned in my lessons. The in-country orientation was also a ton of fun. I can't believe how much they managed to squeeze into a short weekend. I'm sure there are other great programs out there, but I really like the organization of CIEE and the support they provide in and outside the country.

I'm doing a YouTube vlog of my journey which will include some episodes of CIEE's orientation. However, I haven't edited that part of the trip yet, so I can't share a direct link, but the first episode of my vlog is below. By the time you're reading this, the CIEE orientation videos should be up (they will likely be Episodes 12 & 13) Enjoy :)

How can this program be improved?

Really the only improvement I can think of is that the deadline to apply for CIEE's program and the deadline to send in the EPIK application were too close making me push off applying to EPIK until the next school semester. The application and acceptance into the CIEE program should come sooner so that there isn't a crunch for the hefty EPIK packet. Other than that, great program!

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Bianca
Female
Gangneung, South Korea
West Texas A&M University

CIEE is a great support

10/10

I am so glad I used CIEE as a recruiting agency. They were there for me since the begining, every step of the way. I had many questions about the application process and always had a fast response time. CIEE is also a great way to network and to meet new people. This is the first time I have been a teacher and I think the TEFL program really prepared me for it.

The school and location I am at are perfect. I am having a great experience, thanks to CIEE! I recommend for anyone to use them to teach English in South Korea.

How can this program be improved?

When taking the classes for TEFL, there should be more in class scenario videos. There were some videos, but it was teaching adults. I think there should be more elementary and middle school scenarios.

Addison
Male
23 years old

Waygook

9/10

I have been teaching in South Korea for about 3 months now and have enjoyed my time here so far. Every day is like waking up in paradise not because its perfect, but because of the vitality that I feel when I wake up. I am living in a country that is almost on the other side of the Earth compared to where I lived in United States. Experience the world before you get caught thinking about what you should have done or where you should have gone.

**UPDATE**

I am still currently teaching in Korea, but every day here seems like a new experience in Mokpo, from within the classroom to the city itself. Not saying that it has all been great or that it has all been bad, but instead that it has been a new adventure. Mopko has a great community and I feel that I have been able to grow with during my time here so far. I have gone on a Temple Stay visit, hiked a few mountains, and experienced the big cities like Busan and Seoul. Teaching abroad is an experience, it isn't just a job.

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Christopher
Male
24 years old
Beloit, Wisconsin
Beloit College

CIEE TEFL and The Mission Abroad

8/10

From when I started the TEFL online course, to when I was searching/waiting for a job, to when I was placed and started my job here in Korea, the CIEE and it's staff have been right there with me every step of the way with the patience of a Buddhist monk. I never once felt like I was alone in the dark with no direction and no guidance.

Now that I am here, my job has been very difficult, but the CIEE have continued to give me other options and support to deal with my struggle with the new school. This has allowed this job to seem more like a healthy challenge than an unfair predicament. The CIEE in addition to providing online support also allows us (foriegn CIEE teachers) plenty of opportunities to meet with CIEE staff in person in Seoul to have healthy discussions and to have a good time unwinding and relaxing.

Ultimately, I'm glad I joined the CIEE teaching abroad crew in South Korea.

How can this program be improved?

I feel as the staff members here in Korea could be in better contact with the school's staff they communicate with.

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Carron-lee
Female
26 years old
Worcester
University of the Western Cape

South African in South Korea

10/10

I have bee living in South Korea, Mokpo City for just about three months now. I found out about CIEE through doing a quick internet search for agencies to help one teach abroad and I immediately made contact with them. I'm South African and at first I had no idea that they were situated in the states, but I continued my process with them. During my application process I hit a few bumps and decided(a few months into the whole process) that I want to change agencies due to financial issues. I found a agency in South Africa and started the whole process again. Long story short, my SA agent was the worst! It was already August and I knew that fall term starts from September in South Korea, as a result my new agent just told me he's sorry but I won't be able to leave until next year February and gave me all sorts of lame excuses for this. I was very disappointed and decided to contact my CIEE coordinator again to clarify a few things for me and within one week we continued my application process, I managed to sort out my finances and in September I was on a plane on my way to South Korea.

Leading up to my departure I had the full assistance of my coordinator, Luke Beland. He helped and guided me through everything and I had never had to wait one full day for a response from him irrespective of the difference in time. I was introduced to my SK coordinator (Bradley Brennan) who has been extremely helpful throughout this whole process. I can write a whole new review just about our fun orientation weekend and how much the workshops had helped me to adjust and settle in as a new teacher.

The academy I am teaching at has been exceeding my expectations, both my boss and his wife have been extremely helpful and just very caring in general. We have a good working relationship and I can go to them with anything. My apartment is a small studio apartment for one person. It was neat upon arrival and I have not had any issues with utility bills or noise or anything else.

I'm having a great time so far and have met a lot of new friends through CIEE, which is super awesome considering no one speaks English around here and it's hard to establish friendships due to the language barrier. Thanks to the CIEE orientation. I can't complain about anything from the start of my application process right up until today. I would recommend CIEE to anyone who wants to teach abroad. Mokpo City is beautiful and quiet and has a lot of outdoor activities to do. Catching a KTX or bus to anywhere is very easy and convenient too.

Thank you CIEE.

Default avatar
Charise
Female
28 years old
Brooklyn
Agnes Scott College

Welcoming and Reliable

10/10

I met Brad at the orientation in Seoul back in September. What I really enjoyed about the experience and his style of leadership is that I always felt his sincerity in wanting us to become acclimated with the Korean culture. There was a feeling of compassion for being a foreigner in a new country while also feeling challenged to make the most of my experience here and step out of my comfort zone.

How can this program be improved?

More time for us to ask questions about setting up bank accounts and budgeting ourselves. However, I appreciate that Brad always reminded us that it is possible to save a lot of money while we are here.

Samir
Male
26 years old
Oakland, California

A Reliable Way to Work Abroad in Korea

9/10

I started my application process with CIEE in January, 2016 with the intention of travelling to Korea in the Spring. Unfortunately, some unforseen circumstances kept me state-side longer than I anticipated and I was not able to travel to Korea until September. CIEE did a great job of staying in contact with me and providing quick and informative answers to any questions I had. Their pre-departure programs, including the TEFL program and the course on what to expect in Korea were both highly informative and easy to access. I have now been in Korea for almost a month and can honestly say that I am thoroughly satisfied with my job placement.

Default avatar
Branden
Male
24 years old
Portland
University of Oregon

Teach in South Korea

10/10

My application process with CIEE began as I was working my way through my final year of undergrad. Juggling both my school work and an application to teach abroad wasn't the easiest task. Overall I was very satisfied with the process, and assistance I received along the way. Email communication was always quick, and there was never any trouble contacting my application supervisor by phone.

After choosing my program (Teach in South Korea) the application process hit the ground running. Everything was clearly outlined with specific information of what was required, and the deadline that it must be met by. If there was ever a time I was confused, or had any questions CIEE was always there to help me out. I'm very thankful I had CIEE there to help guide me.

Working with my placement team was great as well. We maintained contact over email, and they constantly kept me updated with the happenings regarding my placement. There was a bit of an issue with receiving my FBI background check w/ apostille in time, and my placement team came up with a quick workaround solution that allowed me to meet the deadline for my Visa. They've been nothing but nice to me, and have made it clear that should I ever need any help with anything, they're there for me.

When deciding to work overseas, the most important thing you can be is flexible. Also, I believe it is important to understand where CIEE's obligations begin, and where they end. Everything I've expected of CIEE (a recruiter) has been met. Working with my school has been fine as well. While I've had some small issues at work, they're only minor inconveniences. I do not hold CIEE accountable for those.

Again, I was very satisfied with service I've received from CIEE. They helped me get to where I am now, and I feel I was more than prepared. The TEFL course, the pre-departure course, and my own research (and one would be foolish not to do their own research before making such a big move) left me feeling confident with my decision. I believe these programs are wonderful for anyone looking to spend time abroad and teach!

Default avatar
Peter
Male
25 years old
Boston
Brandeis University

The honest truth

9/10

My experience with CIEE so far has been excellent. They have been friendly, professional, patient, easy to contact, and straightforward. Before you read some of the negative reviews on the CIEE South Korea listing, you have to understand what CIEE is.

CIEE is a recruiter. They help you find a position.

They are not your landlord, they are not your attorney, and they are not your babysitter.

I came to Korea prepared, and I came to Korea prepared not only because of CIEE's help but also because I was able to do some independent research and get a good picture of what it would be like when I arrived.

CIEE was actually very helpful in pointing out some potential problems and helping me get ready for them.

Their pre-departure information showed statistics on the apartments that previous applicants had occupied and I knew that a few of them didn't have beds. To a lot of people this is a problem, understandably, but I came prepared to lay out some blankets on the first night because I was given that information.

From hearing stories about awful hagwons, I was able to ask questions about the curriculum and determine that their practices would probably be acceptable for me. I am here and my days are crammed, but that's what I knew would happen.

If you're flying to the other side of the world, you have to be able to roll with things and pick your battles. When I arrived in my apartment it was nasty. The previous occupant was a teacher who left my school and he never cleaned it out. I spent three days cleaning it. I didn't mind, because it's not that big of a deal.

My apartment has no hot water. Personally, I don't mind this. If I wanted it fixed, I would talk to my director. But even if I want it fixed before winter, you know what? It can wait. I have bigger fish to fry right now.

I understand if you would not be willing to wait to get your hot water, or if you'd be upset if you walked into a dirty apartment. However, please understand that a part of making moving to a new country a good experience means rolling with the punches. I read one review wherein someone said that their hagwon closed, and when CIEE's follow-up for a NEW POSITION was "delayed and full of contradictions" they decided to just leave the country. This is the opposite of rolling with the punches. Yes, CIEE probably was scrambling to get their stuff together on that, and a recruiter might have written something unclear. But he or she is missing the huge positive here! CIEE was ready and willing to find a new position for this person, and he or she realized it would take time and effort, had enough, and gave up.

Let's look at that again: if you get stuck at THAT crappy of a school and you get fired for crappy reasons or your school closes, CIEE will stick it out with you and find you another position.

Now obviously, you are a free person. You are also taking a risk by getting a job and it's your responsibility to research them first. I and everyone from my orientation seems to be having a great time so far. I have had no complaints from the dozens of people I have met.

My director and regional director are amazing, a husband and wife team, and they buy me food all the time and are helping me in all kinds of ways that they don't have to do.

My coworkers are great. Friendly, supportive, patient, and all in all wonderful people.

So many people go on the internet just to complain and try to get revenge on someone they feel wronged by.

Think about this:

A TEFL course could cost from 600-2000 dollars, easily.
Airfare to Korea would cost 600-1000.

If you're a first-time teacher, I would highly recommend it. Remember, if you don't like the position they offer you, YOU CAN TURN IT DOWN.

And think about all the people who aren't leaving reviews because they came in prepared and had a great time and never thought twice about it.

Just sayin.

How can this program be improved?

The TEFL course needs more VIDEOS OF REAL TEACHERS TEACHING TO REAL STUDENTS. (So does every online TEFL course). And CHILDREN, not adults. CIEE teachers in South Korea don't teach adults. IMO, the optional course that you pay more for should be integrated into the 150 hour course, and you choose based on the group you will work with, and then cut out some of the BS that's just filling space. (Of course, no TEFL course actually makes you a good teacher... you need experience... but it's something.)

Default avatar
Jacqueline
Female
24 years old
Gwangju, South Korea
University of Vermont

A good option for first-time teachers

8/10

When I started looking for teaching jobs and TESOL programs, I wasn't sure where to begin. Choosing a TESOL program, finding a job, and getting a visa can be rather daunting. It was really helpful to have one source for completing all these things. The TESOL program was informative, and much more thorough than I was expecting. I took an additional 30hr CIEE TESOL course later on, which was a great addition to the main certificate. The coordinators in the US were especially helpful in keeping in touch once I was abroad. The pre-departure information was pretty good as well. Now that I am in the country, I could probably find my next job ( if I stay another year) on my own, but for my first job it was good to have help with the entire process. I think it would have been quite difficult to do this on my own. Overall I had a great experience with CIEE, and would recommend it for those who are getting started working abroad! I would especially recommend teaching abroad as a first job after college, as it is a great way to travel and gain job experience.

How can this program be improved?

There are a few improvements that could be made, mostly related to the in-country coordination. The job recruiter CIEE set me up with was not very transparent about the process. After my Skype interview with my school, all of the communication that wasn't through CIEE was done though the recruiter, and in hindsight I would have rather talked to my school directly than through him. I still get job emails from him and most of them start ASAP, which often means a teacher left suddenly because of management issues. My living situation is significantly different than what I was told, which isn't necessarily CIEE's fault, but working with a recruiter who is more open and communicative would probably help with the transparency issues, and lower the chance of someone getting a poorly managed school.

Taylor
Female
25 years old
Gunpo, South Korea
Louisiana Tech University

My year in Asia

9/10

I am so thankful that I came to South Korea. Of course it has its challenges, but everyday is memorable when you are living in a new culture. My school and co-teachers have been very helpful. Also, the country itself is great. Transportation is easy to figure out, so traveling around is affordable and realistic. Meeting foreigner and local friends is not too big of a challenge either. The food is delicious and there is always something new to do and try around the country!

When the first semester was ending, one of my students ran up to me and asked "Teacher, will you be here next time?" and I said "Yes! Of course". She gave me the biggest hug and at the moment I knew I was where I am suppossed to be and couldnt be happier.

CIEE helped make this all become a reality and made the long application process a whole lot easier. :)

How can this program be improved?

Of course it is hard to say. I was very impressed with the program. Possibly connecting you to a willing teacher on the field or alumni who can answer questions more directly.

Default avatar
Derek
Male
26 years old
Nashville, Tennessee
University of Tennessee- Knoxville

Unfortunate, disillusioning, exhausting

1/10

From my poorly communicated pre-departure, to my nonexistent dialogue with CIEE after months in Korea, CIEE is not vigilant enough to provide or ensure a great experience for their teachers.

When I chose CIEE (and paid for this program), I expected a high quality system of support from an experienced team. Instead, the issues I faced were easily dismissed. From a Skype call, the messages most prominent were: "None of [these problems] sound new." "You have to be your own person." Even further, answering questions became the teacher’s job, not CIEE’s. I was told “I’m not sure” one too many times without help or reassurance. It would seem beneficial if the coordinator researched these questions themselves…perhaps they would learn something new to help future teachers. Isn’t this their job? Are they not paid to assist teachers?

CIEE was not getting proper feedback from previous teachers, something inexcusable and careless. Getting feedback and being vigilant about a school’s condition is very important. These situations aren't able to be predicted, but there are always clues -- Blacklisting, school history, changing management etc. I am not an expert, but that's why I felt confident that CIEE would provide me with the peace of mind to get things right the first time. I should have never been placed here.

Considering the money you pay, the services you receive are not worth the expense. My pre-departure was stressful and required me to check-in on my visa's progress...even after a month of waiting. This is, thankfully, not your only option. The quality of service, attitude, and leadership are absent and empty. I cannot recommend CIEE or share positive comments based on this placement. It's simply unacceptable no matter how you spin it. Paying and studying for TEFL, paying for the CIEE program, paying for and preparing the paperwork and documents....all to lead up to ending my time in Korea six months early. It's disillusioning, it's disappointing, and saddest of all, discouraging.

Response from CIEE Teach Abroad

Derek,

Thank you very much for taking the time to review our program. Your input, and the feedback from all of our participants, is vitally important to us.

We looked into the issues you brought to our attention and we are no longer placing teachers in this school. We regularly evaluate placement schools and respond when circumstances require a change. As regards in-country support for teachers, we are unique in providing that service along with 24/7 emergency assistance. When unforeseen difficulties arise, we do our best to assist, including, but not limited to, helping find alternative teaching placements.

Please reach me directly at [email protected] if I can be of further assistance.

Thank you again,
Stephen Bush
Manager, CIEE Teach Abroad

Default avatar
Laura
Female
25 years old
Korea

Not worth the stress and money

2/10

Overall Korea is a nice opportunity for English teachers and fairly easy to live in. That being said, this is still a big change and takes time to adapt, which was not only not helped by CIEE but made more difficult. I was not told essential information leading up to my trip. I boarded the plane and had no idea what would happen when I arrived. Once I got to my placement I was shocked to find my fellow teachers telling me to leave the school right away and later found out the school was blacklisted. However, I was not able to properly research the school because I was never given the proper name before arriving. In any case a placement at a blacklisted school with so many runners was disturbing. It became very clear this inadequate communication was a pattern with CIEE. I also soon understood why the school was blacklisted. When I reached out for help with my placement I was met with lacking knowledge of my school and situation and often had to defend myself. "That's just how things are done in Korea" and "I don't think that's happening" should not be how school issues be dealt with. When bringing up breaches of contract I was told in not so many words to suck it up. Any time I was told they would follow up with the school nothing was done. When I finally put in my resignation I was told they would help with a new placement only to find the response was delayed and riddled with contradictory information. Most of the communication was full of errors and at times not understandable despite English being their first language. Initially I chose CIEE for the support they would provide and a reliable placement, but I found neither. I cannot recommend their services. They cost too much money and are not professional at all. I really was hoping for a positive experience here, but instead am leaving Korea early.

Response from CIEE Teach Abroad

Laura,

Thank you for your time spent reviewing our program. Your feedback, and that of all our participants, is of paramount importance to us as we strive to meet expectations at every step of your engagement with CIEE Teach Abroad.

We looked into the issues you brought to our attention, and want to assure you and future participants that we regularly evaluate schools, and respond when circumstances require a change. In this case, we are no longer placing teachers in that school. As regards pre-departure information, we strive to be as thorough as possible. I would be interested in learning how your experience could have been improved.

Please reach me directly at [email protected] if I can be of further assistance.

Thank you again,
Stephen Bush
Manager, CIEE Teach Abroad

Default avatar
Zari
Female
32 years old
Seoul, Korea
Indiana University- Bloomington

I would not recommend CIEE

1/10

South Korea is great place to live and teach and I would recommend it strongly to anyone looking for a cultural enrichment experience. Regrettably however, I cannot recommend employing the services of CIEE. I am currently in South Korea, in the second half of my contracted year. Once I decided to teach abroad, I enlisted CIEE, an organization that represented that they would streamline your process, guide and support you through negotiating your contract with a school, find housing, etc. Not only did they fall quite short of these marks, they were in turns incompetent, impolite or dismissive about it. Let me tell you my story.
Before leaving the States for Korea, CIEE secured housing and set terms for a 1-year teaching contract. I was told by CIEE that they negotiated a reasonable salary for me, which to my dismay, turned out to be an utter canard. After living here for 7 months, I now know that, with my qualifications, finding a similar position at a substantially higher remuneration is actually quite easy.
The CIEE in-country coordinator, indicated that my Korean apartment would be in a newer building, which turned out to be a woefully inaccurate characterization. The building is dirty and poorly kempt. There was an undisclosed monthly 'officetel' fee in excess of $100 that charges for amenities such as parking, cleaning and security; all services that do not exist. Further, the building is
Commercially-zoned with businesses above and below my apartment. I lived above a restaurant and just below a very loud nightclub that routinely blasted through my walls. The apartment is so marginally insulated that I could feel the wind gusting through my windows, which on cold days have a frozen covering. I don’t mean a little frost but rather, a thick layer of ice. Between the surprise ‘officetel’ charge and the unanticipated and exorbitant heating bills, it was difficult for me to make ends meet. Again, CIEE was unresponsive to my problem.
Upon arrival in South Korea we CIEE recruits attend an orientation where I happily forged several wonderful friendships with other new teachers. We were introduced to our in-country CIEE coordinator who, we were told, was there to assist with various issues that might arise. This coordinator offered a phone plan, leading us to believe it the best option out there. Not long after, we each realized that this plan was of strikingly poor value. I repeatedly asked for the name of the phone company and a detailed invoice, which was never provided. We discovered that he was pocketing $20.00 a month for the 'service' he provided. He continues to take advantage of foreigners in this way, and it is a dubious abuse of trust.
And now, my biggest disappointment with CIEE: A mere two weeks before the end of the school year and three weeks before the beginning of the next one (in Korea, the school year finishes at the end of February and the next year begins the following week in March), we were quite suddenly informed that our school was closing. We were out of jobs and the school had no intention of honoring its contracted obligations to provide a one-month salary in severance and pay our airfare home.
To date, CIEE has been disappointingly unresponsive when petitioned for information or assistance. Stateside CIEE promises to help but their Korean representative does nothing. My coordinator failed to produce any viable new leads or, frankly to show much interest in doing so. Consequently, on my own I have searched for a new job and apartment. With my qualifications, every job I interviewed for, without exception, offered me my sought-after position at a much higher salary than my CIEE-procured school. For this I found my own recruiter at no expense to me (the schools paid his fee). This recruiter went on interviews with me and delineated my needs and wishes at each interview. As my new job was over an hour away, I had to move at my own expense. Not only am I earning more, my new apartment is much nicer and there are no hidden costs.
Since arriving in Korea, I have unsuccessfully appealed to CIEE for help with various adjustment bumps, particularly since I learned I was to shortly be stranded without a position. As I’ve been overwhelmed with finding a new job and apartment on my own, I enlisted the help of my family in the States to try and communicate with CIEE main office on my behalf. My mom called CIEE who denied any and all responsibility for their actions. For example: 1. They didn’t KNOW they had had negotiated a contract with a financially unsound school so it was not their fault. (Huh, you don’t properly vet your schools? And since when is “not knowing” a viable excuse?) 2. It was the school that proposed a below-standard salary, not CIEE. (Aren’t they there to negotiate a good salary for a stateside applicant who paid them in good faith?) 3. It was also not their fault if the school fails to pay severance or airfare. 4. When my mom mentioned that I got a better job and apartment on my own, their response was how could they help when I hadn’t contacted them. Regrettably, that is not the case. 5. As to the local coordinator profiting by procuring for his clients overpriced mobile phone plans…. Well, CIEE was finally stumped on that one.
I am sorry to say that not only have I lost money to this organization, it has cost me in many ways. I’d always thought that non-profit organization meant you were the good guys. I know it’s hard to believe, but you’ll do better on your own.

Response from CIEE Teach Abroad

Zari,
Thank you for taking the time to provide this feedback. Your insights are valuable to us as we strive to meet the expectations of all CIEE Teach Abroad participants.
CIEE Teach Abroad is unique in providing in-country support along with 24/7 emergency assistance. We know that unforeseen challenges sometime arise and that is why we have a coordinator located in South Korea who can help participants navigate these challenges. Please reach me directly at [email protected] if I can be of further assistance.
Thank you again,
Stephen Bush
Manager, CIEE Teach Abroad

Default avatar
Worldtravel
Female
24 years old
Seattle, WA
Pacific Lutheran University

Be careful of ciee teach abroad!

3/10

I taught in South Korea in the fall of 2011 with CIEE. Before I even left the country, CIEE Teach Abroad messed up my visa process. They actually went ahead and started processing my visa with a school I had never signed a contract with. After a few long hours on the phone explaining that CIEE had messed up on what their main service is (visa/placement), and actually caused the placement process to be more difficult than if I had done it myself, I was given a partial refund. I should have viewed this situation as a warning sign about the lack of actual knowledge of this branch of CIEE (they handle most of the teaching in Asia programs).

When I arrived in Korea, things got much worse. Most things outlined in my CIEE Teach Abroad and in my school contract were not fulfilled. I was told my work week would be 30 hours a week at a certain pay. I actually worked 40+ hours a week for the same amount of pay. Not only that, but I was told that class sizes would be small. I taught 10 classes a day with virtually no breaks, some with over 30 students. I received no training. I was paid up to 5 days late, denied my medical insurance, and paid under the table for the first 2 months. The building wasn't big enough for the amount of students, and there was a sweatshop in the basement. This is not what I expected from CIEE's main advertisement of "placement at a reputable institution". I used this service to avoid this exact type of situation, as I felt it would be a safer way to go in a country I had never been to myself.

CIEE advertises adequate housing. My apartment was dirty the day I arrived, with moldy bedding in the washing machine. Much of the furniture was broken and I found spots of mold on the ceiling. I was sick most of the time I was there. Every time a friend stayed over, she got sick as well. I asked my employer to change apartments and they said they were "working on it"up until the day i left.

When I realized the gravity of this situation a month and a half into my time there, and the effects it was having on my physical and mental health, I contacted CIEE. I asked for advice for the best way to switch schools. I had no desire to leave South Korea, I simply felt that I was being taken advantage of by my specific school. I was told by a CIEE member that its very difficult to end a school contract before 6 months, as our visa is attached to our employer. I also heard about the mistreatment of other employees at my school when they tried to leave. I decided to do my own research, and I realized the only way to get safely out of this situation was to leave the country without telling anyone so that my school would not find out. I did this to avoid being detained by customs, and being denied pay.

Because of CIEE's previous lack of organization and communication with me, I did not advise them I was leaving the country, fearing that they might leak information to my school, and therefore put me in an even more hostile situation. When I did make it out of the country, I was sent threatening messages from my school. I was told I had better come back and apologize or i would be put in jail, and be forced to pay them. They actually contacted the local police, and when they realized I was gone, they contacted interpol to find me.

Most of the things promised in the contract were not what I received.

When I came back, I asked for a refund. They told me that it was my fault for not contacting them for help. They told me that they understood that I was "homesick".
I actually was trying to change schools, not leave South Korea to go home.

If you want to teach abroad in Korea, it is an amazing place to live! Simply go to Dave ESL Cafe online and look for your own job. You will save tons of money and probably end up at a better school.

Always ask to speak to a current foreign employee at the school you are going to work at. If I would have done so, I could have avoided an absolutely awful situation.

Response from CIEE

CIEE is a well-respected non-profit that has been operating since 1947. We are a recognized leader in several fields, including undergraduate study abroad, as well as finding paid teaching jobs overseas for US college graduates. We are committed to providing high quality, safe and valuable experiences to all of our participants. We are proud of the programs that we operate and are committed to meeting our mission in every way. We are happy to share with you how we help participants overcome challenges while they are teaching abroad. Teaching abroad often isn’t easy and we recognize that. CIEE works directly with the Ministry of Education and other institutions to send people to teach in South Korea. We are happy to address anyone’s specific situation at any time, clearly as a U.S. based NGO, we do not operate these programs for the money and pursue quality experiences for all participants.
Matt Redman, Manager of CIEE Teach Abroad programs, [email protected].

Default avatar
rlee
Female
24 years old
Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do, Korea
Other

CIEE is a good resource for first-time native English teachers

9/10

My experience with CIEE has been very positive. I was placed at a public school in a small town in Yongin, a city about an hour outside of Seoul. My apartment is comfortable and in good condition. The cost of living is relatively low and my neighborhood is safe. I teach 22 hours per week, the kids are awesome, and the other teachers have been supportive and kind. I've also made a lot of good friends. Overall, I'm very pleased with how my experience in South Korea has turned out so far.

On a few occasions, I've mentioned CIEE to the teachers involved in hiring me and, surprisingly, was met with confusion and blank stares. They were completely unaware that CIEE even existed. (Because I worked with CIEE's partner recruiter, TEIK (which I don't recommend,) TEIK received a payment from the school once I completed my first three months here.) As far as I know, CIEE has limited to no contact with the schools themselves. Although I am fortunate enough to have a very helpful co-teacher, there is something to say about having a support network of people who understand the experience of being a foreigner in Korea and who speak a language that I know well.

CIEE has provided me with the kind of advice, training, and support that has made interactions with my Korean co-workers and school administrators run a lot more smoothly. At first, a cross-cultural training session sounded a little corny to me--until I blew my nose too loudly and offended an entire room full of people. That was when I understood just how important that training would be in building relationships with people whose language I couldn't speak. Coming here with barely any knowledge of Korean language or culture (I know, I know, I'm awful) was stressful. It would have been so much more stressful had I not been able, say, to go over my contract with a CIEE coordinator during job cuts or to be reassured that I could go to a Korean-speaking doctor with the flu and not be treated for shingles instead.

In the end, I'm glad that I went with CIEE. Even though the program is expensive, it has been a good resource to have.

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CIEE offers paid teaching positions in Chile, China, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Morocco, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, and Vietnam, and volunteer programs in Spain, Portugal, and Senegal for university graduates looking to teach English abroad and immerse themselves in a foreign community.

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