English Program in Korea (EPIK)
80% Rating
(32 Reviews)

English Program in Korea (EPIK)

By EPIK (English Program in Korea)   Reviews (32)   80% Rating

EPIK (English Program in Korea) is a program that works to improve the English speaking abilities of students and teachers in Korea, to foster cultural exchanges, and to reform English teaching methodologies in Korea. It is affiliated with the Korean Ministry of Education and is operated by the National Institute for International Education (NIIED). Established in 1995, the EPIK program encourages cross cultural exchange while promoting the development of English language skills in Korean students.

We are now accepting applications for the Spring 2016 term with positions starting in late February, March and April of 2016. Positions are available throughout South Korea including key cities such as Seoul, Busan, and Daegu. Apply now to begin the process and get your adventure with EPIK Started!

Locations
Asia » South Korea
Length
1 Year+
Salary / Benefits
EPIK teachers will be provided with:

• A competitive salary based on qualifications
• Housing provided by the program
• Entrance and exit allowances for participating in the program
• A settlement allowance to help with the transition
• Severance pay for completing your contract
• Health Insurance
• Other benefits and details found on our website
Accommodation
Apartment
Currency
USD

Questions & Answers

Hello! I'm currently teaching in South Korea, and I got my job through the EPIK program. The main intakes for EPIK teachers are August and February, but they do also take people as "late-intake" in Se...
An afterthought-- I applied directly through EPIK, but you can also apply through agencies/recruiters. I have friends who highly recommend Korean Horizons. :)

Program Reviews

  • Benefits
    86%
  • Support
    74%
  • Fun
    78%
  • Facilities
    84%
  • Safety
    93%

Program Reviews (32)

Ellen
Female
29 years old
Anniston
Auburn University

Many variables affect the experience but overall good

7/10

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.

How can this program be improved?

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.

Cathy
Female
26 years old
Washington DC, USA

Things they don't tell you about being an EPIK teacher...

5/10

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
Female
25 years old
Mungyeong-si, Gyeonsangbuk- do,South Korea
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University

My teaching experience in South Korea has been ...

10/10

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.

How can this program be improved?

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.

Stephanie
Female
29 years old
Vancouver
University of British Columbia

It was a good year that turned into four

8/10

EPIK is one of the major hiring agencies for public schools in Korea that is reputable and it's a pretty easy process as long as you get all your documents prepped on your end. There is no guarantee that you will get what you prefer as for location and level so be prepared for ANYthing - This happened to me, but I actually ended up loving my school, my job, and most importantly, my kids. I consider myself to be very lucky.
Socially I connected with all walks of life and my group of friends extended beyond the EPIK ones. Your experience in Korea isn't what EPIK offers. It's really what you make of it yourself. EPIK just helps get you started.

I went to Korea for 1 year and ended up staying 4.
I can't stress enough how much this opportunity helped me grow as a person and a teacher. Thank you EPIK for giving me a chance.

How can this program be improved?

EPIK dumped me in the far south away from all the friends I made at my orientation. I felt extremely isolated in my first few months (i was in a small town) and I felt disconnected from the EPIK program.
My recruiter barely talked with me or helped me when I asked questions. I don't think my school was even an EPIK one, I was a late applicant and filled a position that opened last minute for anyone available.

My contract was changed in my second year from EPIK to JLP and I felt like EPIK just passed me onto another recruiter because I was in the Jeollanamdo Province. (not many EPIK placements )
Pretty much, everything I did was on my own, and I ended up almalgimating into the JLP program in my 2nd year.

If I could change one thing, EPIK please take care of your Native English Teachers that you put in rural far away places. Your schools and placements are great and your orientation was a lot of fun. But, make sure your teachers are happy post orientation and make sure they know there's a coordinator to help them out if they need it. It didn't bother me after 4 months because I had amazing people that helped me out, but for others it's a bit harder to adjust independently.
Oh, and IF you're going to change someones contract to another programs, TELL THEM.

Karla
Female
28 years old
South Korea
Coventry University

An Epic Review

6/10

My experience of the application was long with a fair few ups and downs. I went through a recruiter and they wanted to ensure that I had everything perfect which did mean redoing many things. Also, prepare for plenty of paper work.
Arriving in South Korea, the EPIK team were awaiting everyone. They were well organised, friendly and efficient. Then the training. This was a full schedule. Prepare for long days and long lessons. One the site I was on there were plenty of facilities including a cafe, a shop and a gym.
My advice, take some of the training with a pinch of salt. Literally everyones experience will be different. Lucky for me I am super happy with my area, school & co teacher. Others may not be.
Be open to anything, and just enjoy this time you have away. The students will love you and that will 'make' your time here.
Don't forget to travel. South Korea is so efficient, which makes it so easy!!!

Payton
Female
Jeongseon, South Korea
Azusa Pacific University

Your Experience is What YOU Make of It!

8/10

If you are a proactive, positive, and determined person, you will have an amazing experience with EPIK! I truly believe that YOU are what makes your experience in Korea exceptional. That's not to say that this type of position is for everyone-- to teach in Korea, you should definitely love kids, be confident in your understanding of English grammar, and be a highly adaptable personality-- but if you are positive and ready for the challenges to come, this is a great program for you. EPIK is about immersing yourself in Korean culture, from the food to the social life to the climate to the customs. It is about transitioning into a new and different way of life, and being able to adapt to that personally while also maintaining the strong work ethic, positive attitude, and self-motivation to do your job well and teach your students with integrity. While the experience is not without its ups and downs, it is a great way to (brace yourself, cliché ahead) "get outside your comfort zone." As tough as some days have been, I have never once regretted my decision to move to Korea and join the EPIK program!

How can this program be improved?

If I had to change one thing about the EPIK program, I would create a more realistic orientation program. While I did feel that the orientation prepared me fairly well for the experience to come, it was much less applicable to those who would be teaching in rural areas than to those who teach in cities. It would be helpful if the orientation truly addressed difficulties we would have as foreign teachers in both rural and urban Korea.

Michael
Male
32 years old
Florida
University of Florida

EPIK Good and bad

7/10

EPIK has both positive and negative aspects to it. ( I know what else is new right?)

I will say that the positives outweigh the negatives. It is a cheap and affordable way to live in a new place. You get to interact with the local culture and really absorb it. If you are placed in a good school you will have a great work life. The opportunity to travel to other Asian destinations is outstanding. The food is not so bad and very cheap. (local cuisine)

Most importantly, I think it helps you to grow as a person. Being in a new country, with little English, and now as a minority, is something more people should try. It tests you mentally and teaches you real world skills.

However, you could be placed in a bad school and have a horrible work life. Some, not all, Koreans really don't want you there and/or are just amused by you. The constant gawking and attention gets on your nerves at times. That is compounded by the fact that they have been learning English for a long time but can't seem to speak more than hello or handsome. Even when you attempt to use Korean they will either switch to English or just have no idea what you are saying. (lack of foreign Korean speaking accents they deal with coupled with some stereotypical belief that only they can speak Korean)

But, as stated earlier, the pros most certainly make the cons worth it. I would say at least come and try it for a year. A year goes by so fast and if you don't like it you can just move home. *disclaimer* as of this review EPIK seems to be experiencing sever budget issues and jobs are being gutted. It might be best to try a hagwon or another country. Check the web for updates.

How can this program be improved?

Make sure that co-teachers actually want to work with foreign teachers.

Hire actual teachers and not just random foreigners.

Orientation would include more survival Korean skills and a more realistic portrayal of the classroom.

Enroll only students who want to learn English, not those who are forced into it.



Tara
Female
32 years old
Cotati, California
San Francisco State University

Lovely time there but rough reverse culture shock

8/10

I absolutely loved my experience with EPIK. They placed me on the gorgeous island of Jeju, they offered a fun & educational orientation with other fellow foreign teachers, placed me at a great public elementary school with attentive staff and smart, adorable and kind students. Also, my own tiny/cozy apartment was assigned and paid for. I created such a nice space for myself there & made some incredible life-long friends from all over the globe. I however missed my friends and family too much to stay longer than 2 years. I also could afford to travel to other surrounding South Eastern countries while living in Korea. I am so thankful for that experience and I would never change it. I do however wish someone would have told me about their personal struggle of how hard it was to return to the native country. I have struggled for the past 4 months with trying to not be so awkward (bowing, saying random Korean words, starting almost every sentence with: "In Korea...", and just telling stories that no one understands but other fellow foreign teachers) I actually felt more uncomfortable in my own native land & wanted to go back to Korea immediately to feel safe and accepted. I grew while I was gone but people assume you are the same when you return but your not (in a good way) and there is some uneasiness there. But after a while, you will adapt and start feeling more comfortable with yourself and your surroundings. It just takes time (roughly 5/6 months, so take your time, be patient, be kind to yourself and don't worry) . Also, sign up with your local temp agency for work & be open to any opportunity that may come about (through friends and/or family) I wish I wasn't so picky or expected the job market to be the way it was when I was in my last corporate job (5 years ago). Again, I highly advice anyone who has the itch to travel, meet friends from all over the world and the patience to teach children and to accept different cultural norms. An experience that will last a lifetime! Also, if you budget yourself, you can save a nice "nest egg" or start paying off your student loan(s). Good luck!

Too
Male
32 years old
Taipei, Taiwan.
Other

The orientation was superb...

1/10

You have been looking at videos on youtube that talk about how great Korea and English teaching is and how the ones not complaining about teaching are the ones who are having so much fun that they are too busy to make videos about it, etc... Well they make those videos because that's how to keep a job in Korea. Make a video that shows your boss that you RESPECT and LOVE KOREA!(translation I am lucky to be here and I'll kiss your feet)Thats all the K teachers care about from my experience.
You are a dog no matter what your skin color if you are not born raised and stuck in Korea.They just won't always be upfront with you about that.
As far as skin color, mine is Yellow/tan with black hair btw. Strangers never bothered us really, I never got screamed HELLO at on the streets but I'd say treated pretty badly by people that I wasn't in Shinsegei buying things from(school staff).
I'm just going to keep this simple and honest.
Most of the people that you talk to(who aren't too proud to be honest) will tell you that the Korean teachers for the most part are at best going to be passive aggressive with you and at worst scream at you until you feel that you are beneath them or they are your "masutah!" as one put it. I and my wife dealt with the extreme end of both.
We worked in Busanand I found that my only peace came from being alone or with the children because the principle, co principle, and the absolute worst co-teacher one could imagine tryed their best to come at me with every thing possible. They found this difficult as I did my job very well and the children liked me. That doesn't matter though when you have a co teacher who will write on the board while allowing the entire 6th grade class throw things(at her!) and talk like they are in a lunch room and walk out on a class of 4th graders while leaving a movie playing(I'd come back from the bathroom and getting some coffee when she was leading the class and the teacher was gone!) I took the initiative to stop the disorder(quiet as mice once they were not allowed to misbehave,it only took one moment of effort one day!) but the teacher leaving the room when I was not there, I couldn't stop. I did what I could and I'll admit that I had to break up at least two fist fights among the 6th graders while the co...."teacher" just acted like she didn't see them when they happened right in front of her desk. But even they learned to be tolerable. I had no problem with the kids but the teachers were from Hell.
That teacher still found reason to literally scream at me ,as in ear hurting I should take you to court and sue for damages,type of screaming. This happened once and I personally put her in her place, the co principle and principle did nothing. This shows that you will naturally be the one to take the heat of showing up your co-teacher if you manage to get one that isn't good(odds..are high).
This is just one small set of examples of my daily life not including having to have my wife disrespected and having to set even more people straight and then her going through the stress of keeping her workmates at bay on her own.(respectfullywhile being disrespected of course.) To sum it all up childish, needless, petty behavior.nI showed up to school once when no one was there because I wasn't important enough to tell about the school founding day holiday.When going out to some event the teacher and her buddy made it a point to walk eight feet in front of me while I only had a vague Idea where I was going. I stopped that quick because I just went home!
She got chewed out by the old Nancy Reagan wannabe looking principle for losing me! But anyway...as a final example of pettiness and passive aggressive attempt to make me "feel" bad(HA!) they had me(as a work requirement) train with the rest of the teachers for a big volley ball tournament between schools,even buying me a uniform, without telling me, though I kept my ear to the ground and knew, I couldn't play because I was a foreigner. Volleyball was invented in America,my country, but I didn't whine about it. I didn't need to waste my time though and they were expecting to get a rise out of me. This petty stuff was for kids though, it was the actual JOB treatment that went too far, though I suppose it all affects you on some level huh?
On living conditions,we were stuck in a big shoebox made for one person, the previous pair were stuck in a smaller hole, I'm being nice, we had to stay there one night, and it was sickening, but they were afraid that we would leave so they moved us, though we didn't complain. It was not an impressive upgrade and my wife was sick for half of the year.I could go on and on.
If it were not for the 3rd and 4th graders with a couple of the older kids, Haeyundae beach(best beach they have...it's passable.Best when it's dark I won't lie) to unwind along with that nice Buddhist temple to meditate in I don't think that I would have made it. I had a job before I went to Korea in which I had to do "adult career work" and that little educational position was the most stressful job that I had ever had thanks to the people I worked with. I had been teaching ESL as a volunteer about a year before this and enjoyed it and had one of those "O.K. honey, we are traveling!" moments. I went throughTeacha..(I don't think you are supposed to name names, oh well) but they don't do anything really substantial for you once you are signed over to the school. They didn't assist much when I called wanting to see if they could possible work us over to Japan. Turns out thet the Japanese actually interview you in person(they care abbout who they hire). But I got run around when I mentioned that I would foot the bill for a flight to Canada for interview. They got payed I suppose.I am glad that I didn't let the trouble at
Unsa...(oh yea, it's traditional not to names huh, so I won't, don't know why being honest is wrong though) elementary, stop my travels, but it almost did. I now speak Chinese fairly well!
I finished my contract as did my wife and neither one of us asked or inquired about re-signing.I hate to say, but we have been to korea on our own before and are very used to traveling and our Korean is passable. When you WORK it is a different story, we never want to go back.
I suggest you go to Japan,Taiwan, Mainland China, Thailand, anywhere else to work if you must TEACH ENGLISH. Honestly, its better to save your money and just move or move and volunteer if you can.
When you pay people will bend over backwards 97% of the time. When you work in a school in which the teacher doesn't even care about the kids but you try, it is just not a good combo.
If it weren't for being in EPIK I'm quite sure I wouldn't even have been paid. The hierachical slave system is just a bit different in Korea versus other places. I would give anything to have that year back and never want to even vist Korea again.
This was my experience, the short version.
This is from a responsible person who is used to holding down jobs for years. If I were your big brother I would whole heartedly advise you against this program.
If good things happen then that's great, but NOBODY will be on your side if things happen and in life they usually do.
You can do better, in terms of money,traveling and having fun, and even learning Korean than going to Korea to teach English!

Viaxeiro
Female
24 years old
Seogwipo, Jeju, South Korea
University of Montana- Missoula

Teaching on Jeju

9/10

Your experience teaching in Korea is heavily dependent on your expectations. It may not be an overwhelming cultural or spiritual experience that changes your life forever, but, it will be fun. Korea offers travel, change, new sights, new people, and an excellent opportunity to save money.

EPIK is a large program and almost no teacher I have talked to has had the same experience in the workplace. So much is dependent on individual schools and co-workers that it is hard to anticipate what your situation will be. Your greatest assets are flexibility and patience. I have taught in large schools and small schools, with coteachers and without coteachers. Each situation has its own challenges and its own rewards. The EPIK program will basically plant you in any type of work atmosphere and then expect you to thrive.

I find the work to be very easy. Teaching rarely surpasses 22 hours a week and the 'planning' time is so excessive I often have trouble finding productive things to do with my time in the office. This is nice some days but the lack of challenge can eventually get a bit tiresome.

In my opinion, the two most prominent benefits of teaching for the EPIK are the opportunity for travel and the capacity for saving money.

The EPIK program is much more liberal with their vacation days than almost all private teaching positions in Korea. With Korea as a starting point travel around Eastern and South Eastern Asia is easy business.

As for the second benefit, that of money. Within six months of arriving in Korea I had paid off my student loans and at the end of two years here I should have around 20,000 US dollars set aside for graduate school. There are almost no personal expenses when you work with the EPIK program. I spend less than 100 a month on utilities and food and entertainment are my only other expenses. I spend more money here than I ever have in my life and still manage to put aside about 1000 USD a month. Your travel should not be all about the money but in this case it is a very beneficial factor.

My main complaint about Korea is the lack of interaction with Koreans. Culturally Koreans are a sort of shy people. I have found it hard to become close friends with any Korean. I do have Korean friends but it is always a bit of a reserved relationship. You will be invited to do things with Korean groups but I have never felt like an insider. Even now that I speak enough Korean to hold conversations with the locals I still find it hard to feel truly welcome in Korean social settings.

And that is my review of EPIK. I would recommend it. It has been wonderful for me and for many others.

MasterOfReality
Male
42 years old
Jeju

Jeju or bust!

8/10

Korea is great place for traveling, meeting people and saving money. On Jeju the summer time is amazing for camping, hiking, beach volleyball and of course beaches. The winters are mild and there is always a group of foreigners up to something, whether it be yoga, taekwondo, or a Jeju Furey event. It also never ceases to amaze me how talented some of the people are here when it comes to art and music. As for EPIK, things are changing. They were talking about expecting a years experience to start, couples may not be placed together in the same city or area and you can't choose where you live. Whether these are in full effect, make sure to ask your recruiter.

Your schools are a crap shoot really. I've worked at amazing schools with amazing students and I've had the worst. Sometimes you have great co-teachers and sometimes you have ones that are hard to work with or none at all. My advice is try not to take it too seriously and go with the flow.

How can this program be improved?

There is no career advancement with EPIK. All you'll ever be is a "foreign" teacher which is regarded as the bottom of the totem pole. If you are an experienced teacher, this can get very frustrating. Get used to being the last to know what is going on with your classes and always expect last minute changes. EPIK on Jeju is not very well organized.

uga_waygook
Female
24 years old
South Korea
Liverpool John Moores University

A Wonderful Experience

9/10

Teaching in Korea has been a very rewarding experience. My students are terrific, even if it is hard to get them to pay attention some days. The kids generally are not in your class willingly to learn English and the textbook materials are HORRIBLE. There are times when I feel like a marionette because the schools sometimes decide they want to overly control me and what I teach, even if I go by the book. It is kind of like I am a bragging right for the school: "Look! We have a native English teacher!" The support you receive is awesome and the orientation they hold before you start is pretty well done. There are opportunities to do things like temple stays and festivals, so you won't be bored easily. The transportation system within Korea is amazing. The downside is that there is a LOT of desk warming. You are contracted to teach 22 hours and work 40 hours a week, so you potentially have at least 18 hours of sitting at your desk not doing much. The pay and benefits are great. My schools are fantastic and I have a good support base. Other English teachers in my city, and from what I can tell other cities do this too, have a network online to help each other and get together to do things. If you are vegetarian or vegan, it will be hard to satisfy your diet, but it is not impossible. Food is very expensive here. Every month the city has a meeting of EPIK teachers to discuss problems and train you some more. I am glad I decided to teach through EPIK, mainly because I know if I have a problem there is a network in place to help me and that it is not easy for schools to take advantage of my contract, as in decide to work me past my contracted hours without paying me and that sort of thing.

How can this program be improved?

The orientation was well done if you were teaching elementary school. There are hardly any resources readily available for middle school and high school students and they did not train you for what to do as a young foreign person in the work place. Korean society has a hierarchy based on age and gender. As a young, white woman (I am the youngest teacher at my schools), I am the lowest ranked person on the totem pole but it can be extremely hard to get anything done with this hierarchy in place without the training to know how to do it.

d_2h
Male
32 years old
Busan
Dublin City University

Go for it

8/10

I've just started my second contract and I'm really enjoying my time in Busan. The social scene is great and the summer on the beaches is fantastic. The job itself varies from school to school. I've been lucky in that I've got good co teachers but the kids are quite disrespectful. Some classes are a nightmare even with a co-teacher.

Overall i'd advise new teachers to apply, I imagine it can get quite boring if you're experienced and want a real challenge.

How can this program be improved?

I don't like the fact that we're often the only teachers desk warming. I think that when other teachers are allowed to leave the school that we should be also. I think the contract should be updated to include spring break into our vacation. I sat on my own in the school in february last year for three weeks. It was freezing cold and we weren't provided with lunch. Half of my friends were given that time off while myself and the other half were forced to sit and wait until 4.30 before going home.

nicoleyole
Female
24 years old
Pohang, South Korea
University of Sioux Falls

EPIK Program is seriously EPIK!

10/10

I have nothing bad to say about EPIK. It is the softest cushion into teaching abroad. Korea is a really interesting country, there is so much to see and do.

They provide excellent training and a soft way into the extremely unique culture. You teach with a co teacher (most Elementary EPIK teachers) so you are not alone in the classroom. The schools have lots of English resources, and if you do have any problems so many people can help you.

The pay and accommodation (living in your own apt) are fantastic! It's really easy to travel within Asia from Korea. I could not nto say enough about how great EPIK is!

If you have more questions about the process, check out my blog post, or want to read more about Korean life check it out!

http://nicoleyoleravioli.blog.com/how-to-teach-with-epikin-koreain-asia/

How can this program be improved?

The only difficult part is not knowing what part of the country you will teach in until after you arrive in Korea!

daniel3williams
Male
24 years old
Gumi, South Korea
Western Kentucky University

An EPIK adventure

9/10

I have been teaching through EPIK in Gumi, South Korea for 3 months and wanted to give some insight for people thinking about it.

Let me get the one problem with the EPIK program out of the way first...you don't have any control over where you live. When you apply you can request 'metro' or 'rural' but when you get on your flight over here you only know what province you will be living in. Some people can't take the required leap of faith but if you can have a good attitude about it you will be fine.

It's also important to understand that everyone will have a different situation. My city has 350,000 people in it..some of my friends are in towns of 10,000. Everyone has different experiences with co-teachers, schools, living conditions and anything you can think of. I am telling you how my experience has been.

TEACHING: You are suppose to teach with a Korean co-teacher at all times. Although some people don't, I luckily teach with a great co-teacher every single class. We make lesson plans together and do everything as a team, and although this makes things take longer to plan and organize it is the best strategy. 90% of your classes will be awesome, but there will always be one or two classes that make you want to pull your hair out...it's just the way it goes. Everyone at my school is really friendly and very helpful despite the language barrier. I only teach my 22 hours and I do them in a variety of ways...4th and 6th grade normal classes, reading to 1st and 2nd graders for 'story time' in the morning, after school classes for low level 5th graders (only 4 kids in each class) and a friday afternoon teachers class where other teachers can work on their English with me. For someone who has no teaching experience and was a Finance major in college it has been an easier transition to the classroom than I thought it would be.

HOUSING: Everyone has a small apartment, but thankfully mine has two rooms. For living by myself it is perfect. A small kitchen but has most things you would need to cook and the location is great. I am a 5 minute walk to school and most people never live far from school. Also, you won't pay rent...more on that in a second. It is a little cold in the winter but if you want to pay for the heating you can just use it as much as you need.

PAY: This is one of the main attractions to teaching in Korea. They will pay for your flight here and back. Your housing is paid for. Your salary starting out with no experience is about $1850 a month. Every month they take about $100 out into a pension fund and the school matches it. You will get it back when you leave Korea! When you finish the contract you will get a one month bonus. Your bills are cheap (about $125 a month for everything for me) and you can eat really cheap too.

Social life: It's really easy to meet other English teachers, and you will make really good friends at orientation. Most younger Koreans are friendly too and may want to practice their English with you! Every weekend can bring a new adventure in another city, or you can learn all the good spots to go in your home city. In the fall months there is always some festival or even to go to and with public transportation is very easy to get all over the country.

Overall I tell everyone I know that is interested in teaching English abroad to give the EPIK program a look. Financially it is one of the best in the world, but the benefits go way beyond that. Korea is a safe country, with a wonderful public transportation system that lets you see every single part of this beautiful country. The language is not that difficult to pick up some basics quickly and the overall experience will leave you a much better rounded person than when you first arrive.

If you are reading this and any part of you wants to teach through the EPIK program...please go for it...I promise you down the road you will NEVER regret it!

travelwithme
Female
24 years old
France
Furman University

All over the board

6/10

I did not enjoy my experience in Korea. There are good and bad things I experienced (which I will lay out for you) but in my opinion the bad outweighed the good.

Good:
-Pay is good relative to living conditions, especially when you factor in the free rent. However, bill prices vary (whether you have gas or electric only, whether you have a "maintenance fee" for your apartment, etc) and there's nothing you can do about it as the school chooses the apartment for you. They also pay for your flight over and back and you get a bonus month's pay at the end and some countries can get the pension money back, all of which add up to a nice lump of cash at the end.
-If you live in a city, the social life is great. Bar hopping in Busan with my fellow waygooks always turned out to be a fun night out, as did the beach in the summer. I met some really awesome people who will be my friends for life.

Bad:
-This is not all Koreans, I'm sure, but many of them, especially the older generation, are VERY xenophobic towards anyone not Korean. Particularly towards anyone with dark skin, or Japanese people.
- Some people get excellent support at their schools, but I didn't. I was basically left to teach by myself most of the time (with elementary kids who spoke little to no english, including a pack of demonic 7 year olds that I came to just detest by the end of the year). There was little to no actual "co-teaching". Also, I basically had to beg to have help dealing with my landlady (who spoke 0 english), with banking issues, etc. My co-teacher usually helped me but she always seemed to do it begrudgingly and like it was a waste of her time.

Bottom line: if you can put up with people treating you like crap and being left alone with kids who don't respect anyone foreign, the pay is pretty good and the social life can be awesome. If you are someone with a low BS tolerance like me, the money and social life does not make up for it and you will be itching to get away by 6 months in.

Teach101
Female
24 years old
South Korea Gyeongbuk Province

Pretty good so far!

8/10

I am 2.5 months into my contract. I am a certified teacher with 2 years teaching experience in the States.

Program: As mentioned before, you don't really have a clue as to where you will be placed until a. you get here or b. the teacher you are replacing finds you on Facebook and gives you a heads up (I got lucky here). The placement, school, and apartment situations vary greatly. Some teachers teach at multiple schools, some have only one. Some teachers have rather large one-bedroom apartments, some live in tiny studios. Some teachers have a 50/50 teaching relationship with Korean co-teachers, some are human parrots. Some teachers teach more than the required 24 classes and get paid overtime, some teachers teach less than 24 classes per week. Some teachers have nearly fluent students, some teachers have very low level students. It's really the luck of the draw.

Life: Varies due to placement in larger city vs. town vs. very rural. Expat community is well connected and thriving in certain areas despite actual size of community. It is what you make of it, if you stay cooped up in your apartment and never attempt to experience what Korea has to offer then it will be a very long year. Joining a gym, joining a sports league, hiking, Templestays, etc. If you make connections and explore the country time will fly.

Finances: The pay is great, and the expenses are minimal. My Korean bills total to about $120 per month (including iphone contract, water, apartment maintenance fee, and gas). Your pay is at least $1,600 per month and that's at the very bottom of the pay scale, it's very easy to make/save money here in Korea.

Teaching: As an experienced teacher I can say that it is not a challenge at all and I do get bored with the lessons. I do have a little freedom in that I follow the curriculum but do not have to teach directly from the book. If you are new to teaching it will give you a great introduction and experience in a classroom. If you've taught before you will not feel fulfilled as a trained teacher.

My Rating: So far so good! There are downsides, but everything in life has a downside. Do these downsides outweigh my new happiness and peace of mind? No. You have to adapt, that's the name of the game. I would recommend EPIK to all that are interested in either teaching, or living abroad as it gives a glimpse of what it is like in both areas. If you are an experienced teacher, just be aware that it is less work and less fulfilling than an actual classroom.

Nanette
Female
24 years old
Eumseong, South Korea

JOURNEY!

10/10

Every single day Korea and it's wonderful culture took me on a journey. I experienced naughty, misbehaved, rude, cocky, loving, caring, hard working, hilarious, smart, lazy, and sweet students as well as teachers every single day. I thought that South Africa is a multi-cultural country, but these Koreans aren't far behind. As a teacher straight out of University, all of a sudden I was faced with teaching these students while discovering what kind of teacher I want to be in the process. Day to day experiences for me was me constantly trying to explain something to either my co-teacher, principle, students, lady at the supermarket, the bank or even just ordering a pizza. This taught me one of two things. 1.) Patience and 2.) How to play Charades.

The school didn't offer me any training or support. If I asked a question, my co-teacher would either laugh at me or just ignore me. Asking for help, was followed by a sigh. I managed to open my own bank account, get my own Cell-Phone, pay my own bills and find my way around. Your probable thinking: "What's so hard about doing the above?". Well try doing it in a foreign language you can't speak or understand. Except for the lack of help and communication from my schools and co-teachers, I had Amazing Schools compared to my friend's schools. My Main School's Principle was extremely nice (maybe too nice if you know what I mean), I got send home early often and were invited to numerous field trips, which I accepted gladly. Something I loved about the schools here, is that you get school lunch at the school. I was open to trying everything. At first I didn't like the food and they ate way too much rice for me. Eating basically the same food every single day, one get used to the food very quickly and after 2 months I was hooked.

Because of the big culture difference, what was important to me wasn't necessarily important to them and visa versa. It was very difficult for the schools to actually fully fulfill my needs. I only approached one of my main school's co-teachers when it was really important, like for example dates regarding Summer and Winter Camps, information about my contract and sometimes transportation around Korea.

As a woman alone in a foreign country it's rare to find another woman who felt save 100% of the time. You hear stories about burglaries and assaults anywhere in the world. But yes, I felt save 99% of the time. Whereas South Africa would be a 50%.

I live in an extremely Rural area so everybody in the town new me. At least 8 parents tried to convince me to help them or their sons with English, but we weren't allowed to work outside our contracts. Everyone was so friendly, the woman at the bank, the cashiers at the grocery market, and the other subject area teachers at my schools.

I came in with the concept of being a "yes-man". Now, a "yes-man" is someone who says yes when asked to do something. That worked for the first 3 months until I realized that 3 months had passed and I haven't had one day of rest. I was so tired all the time. People started getting frustrated with me because I couldn't commit to all of their requests. I decided to take a break from everything and everyone and spent some time on my own. That's when the growth started. I decided what is important for me and not other people. This led to me not having tea time with my Principle every single day, going on trips with him every single day and having dinner with him and his wive every night. This new change could have been taken the wrong way from other people, looking like I'm not interested anymore or don't care anymore. But this also showed me who my real friends are. Sticking by me no matter what. I wouldn't have changed this strategy because I believe that this positive attitude in the beginning gave a good first impression.

The only thing I would have wanted to know is how difficult it is to find grocery items. I would have brought it with me and not pay so much money shipping it here. As a 2 feet tall woman I had to bring a lot of extra clothes, because I heard that it's so hard to find clothes in your size. That is definitely the case with shoes, but I haven't had trouble finding clothes though. I would have brought less clothes and more personal items.

School supplies wasn't a problem. They gave me the textbooks and recordings I had to use in class. Every classroom had a computer, TV, Projector and White Board. I had my own computer with internet and I could print and copy as many papers as I'd like. One of my schools had a color printer.

You have your misbehaved students here and there, but nothing I couldn't handle. You have to keep in mind that what might seem like misbehavior to you, isn't necessarily considered rude to the students. A lot of misinterpretation can happen, so make sure before punishing a student.

This Program broadened my field of expertise. I'm only qualified to teach High School Students in the field of Life Orientation and Life Orientation Psychology. Now I'm excited to go work in an Elematary School and be an English Teacher.

I am very sad to leave after one year. I'm going to miss Korea extremely. I already decided that if I don't find work within 6 months, I'm definitely applying for the August intake again.
I definitely found my passion and that is teaching, especially students between the ages of 13 and 18. If it was up to me, I would make it compulsory to teach in another country to gain experience. You face so much more obstacles than you would in your own community. Culture, language, food, habits, and even the humor (see the pun right here) is different.

In only one year I realized so many life lessons. I know the type of teacher I want to and strive to be. I know exactly who I am and I grew way beyond my 24 years as a woman spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

How can this program be improved?

I'm aware that this is a very long process and that it takes time and that one should be patient. It's very hard to be patient if you don't hear back from EPIK for weeks. I feel that they would receive less e-mails and phone calls if they could maybe have updates more regularly. Maybe after everyday just Post on Facebook that they did 10 Interviews today and number 20-30 is expected to be tomorrow.

They also promised me that they will let me know within one week after my Skype interview whether or not I got accepted. I waited two weeks and when I phoned them, their response was that they tried once and couldn't get hold of me. I felt that they could have sent an e-mail letting me know.

I also only heard about my interview less that 8 hours before my interview. They said that they send an e-mail, but I never received it. They phoned me hours before my interview, asking me if I'm ready. I was busy with exams and had less than 8 hours to organize an arrangement with my lecturers.

Van
Male
32 years old
Busan

Luck of the draw

8/10

EPIK keeps you in the dark with the application process and you have no idea where you will be placed.Depending on your school, you can either be teaching or doing absolutely nothing.

With my new principal, my work environment is hell due to the teaching methods that are enforced. I am at a constant struggle trying to create a fun learning environment when my principal dislikes fun.

Social life is what you make it. So much to do and the expat community is so large!

I would apply directly to the province instead of going through EPIK.

doffltms
Female
24 years old
Chungbuk-do

I love my job!

9/10

I settled in very easily and the EPIK orientation was a helpful experience.

My days are pretty easy, although my school did not give me a very good training period--they did not tell me background info on classes other than the level (advanced or intermediate--which means nothing. my intermediate class is basically a low level class and the advanced is really intermediate).

My apartment is good and the location is perfect. My co-teachers are all extremely kind nad helpful; I got lucky. I just wish they'd given me more of guiding hand when I first got here--they assumed I knew how to teach,which was correct. But I needed to know about preferred styles at the school, what technology the classrooms had, what kind of thingswere expected of me--all my co-teachers said was "oh, just do whatever". This is frustrating because I did a lot of guesswork and wasted time in the beginning. I have now hit my stride, but it's a struggle.

Overall, however, everything is reallyreally great and the EPIK program is an excellent choice for first-time teachers travelling abroad. A good safe choice.

How can this program be improved?

Bring in more teachers with actual in-class experience or real qualifications. Even though they mean well, some recent liberal arts grad who only plans to mess around for a year is not the best person to be teaching children. Bring only those who actually want to teach for real.

Put more money into training the Korean co-teachers, because many of them have NO idea how to handle a foreign teacher.

About The Provider

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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.

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