English Program in Korea (EPIK)

Video and Photos

High1 ski and snowboard resort in Kangwon
Shopping in Seoul with friends - Itaewon - Line friends cafe
Templestay at Jikjisa temple in Gimcheon
Waiting for class!!
After school club cooking!

About

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.

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!

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Questions & Answers

Reviews

8.09 Rating
based on 34 reviews
  • Benefits 8.6
  • Support 7.5
  • Fun 7.8
  • Facilities 8.2
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 1 - 8 of 34
Default avatar
Amanda
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

EPIK in Daejeon

I was placed in the province of Daejeon. I love this city as well as the school I was placed. My situation is unique because I have one school and all my co-teachers teach me with. This is unique because some people have two schools AND some people have co-teachers that say they will be in class helping but are not there/don't offer assistance. I would want future participants to know that it is crucial to manage expectations and remember that EVERYONE'S situation is different even though it is under the same program name. So much depends on the school, teachers, area, apartment, attitude of the principle, the peers you meet at orientation, ect.... Prepare yourself for any situation and remember that two people's times here is not 100% alike.

What would you improve about this program?
More Korean classes for incoming teachers during orientation. Makes a world of difference when trying to assimilate and connect to your students.
Default avatar
Scarlett
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

EPIK

I think that EPIK is an excellent choice if you want to teach abroad. The salary, free housing, medical benefits, vacation time, and paid flights to and from Korea, all make for a very nice contract. Since the EPIK program is through the Ministry of Education, your job is stable and secure. You're teaching with the public school board so you don't have the same anxieties that you would if you worked for a private school that could pack up and close down at any time leaving you stranded without a valid visa or salary.

When you apply to the program you need to remember that each individual teacher's experience varies a lot. On your application, you are allowed to request a city or province that you would prefer to work in. You can also request a level (elementary, middle, or high school) that you would prefer to teach. But regardless of your listed preferences, you could be placed anywhere. Generally, the vast majority of teachers only find out where they will be teaching AFTER they have already signed their contracts. You might teach at one school in a big city where you only have to teach 2 different grade levels. Or, you might live in a rural area and teach at up to 4 different schools. Its very rare, but some EPIK teachers end up in remote areas where the nearest native english teacher lives an hour away. There is no standard EPIK experience. Every position is different and comes with a different set of perks and challenges.

You have to be prepared for any outcome. If you're flexible and adaptable then whatever outcome you wind up with will probably work out fine for you. Most teachers I meet in Korea didn't get what they initially wanted when they applied but they love where they ended up.

This program has given me everything that I wanted as a newly graduated undergrad- I have my own apartment, I can save a little money each month, I have the time and money to travel, and I'm gaining teaching experience and learning a new language. I teach both elementary and middle school at 3 different schools and I live in a rural area. It's challenging but I love my job and I'm so happy that I applied to this program.

What would you improve about this program?
-I think it would be better for everyone if native english teachers knew WHERE they had been assigned BEFORE they signed their contract. This would allow teachers to better prepare for their positions and it would cut down on the number of people who make 'midnight runs' to leave their contract early.
Default avatar
Ellen
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Many variables affect the experience but overall good

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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.
Default avatar
Cathy
5/10
No, I don't recommend this program

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

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
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My teaching experience in South Korea has been ...

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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.
Default avatar
Stephanie
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

It was a good year that turned into four

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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.
Default avatar
Karla
6/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An Epic Review

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!!!

Default avatar
Payton
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Your Experience is What YOU Make of It!

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!

What would you improve about this program?
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.