English Program in Korea (EPIK)

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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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8.09 Rating
based on 34 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 44.12%
  • 7-8 rating 44.12%
  • 5-6 rating 8.82%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 2.94%
  • Benefits 8.6
  • Support 7.5
  • Fun 7.8
  • Facilities 8.2
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 17 - 24 of 34
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Yes, I recommend this program

An EPIK adventure

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!

Default avatar
No, I don't recommend this program

All over the board

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.

-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.

-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.

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Pretty good so far!

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.

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program


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.

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

Luck of the draw

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.

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

I love my job!

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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.

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program


EPIK - Honestly, if you want to come to Korea and you are VERY new to teaching - go for it. If you have more than one degree and an online teaching certificate - this program is not for you.

EPIK has it's perks - the benefits are good - medical cover is above average, apartment - small as they are - are comfortable, pay - even at entry level is good, standard of living is good, safety and security is good, opportunities to travel around Korea and Asia are limited to when yo have time off - weekends are normal off day - and the train and bus network is expensive and cheap and EASY! Going anywhere in Korea for the weekend is more than possible and a breeze!

The disadvantages, as an experienced teacher much of what I do on a day-to-day basic is dull. There is little or no challenge - especially if you are in a non-city area. I teach at three schools. All three are very rural. One - I teach whatever I please - I have ZERO input from the English teacher - no feedback either. Second school - I am little more than a human tape recorder - 'push play for native voice'. The third school - I work from the text book - period by period.

If you are experienced and you actually want to teach - try a cram school - the experience will likely be far more rewarding.

That said - it you are new to ESL - EPIK is a fantastic start - you will get ALL, and I mean ALL the grounding you will ever want. You get to do three courses - a pre-orientation course, followed by 8 days of in-class training in Korea, followed by an in-service training course online. The training is intensive and covers all sorts of topics. There is also on-going professional development - that generally takes place once a month.

Would I recommend this program? Yes - if you are starting out. No, if you are looking for a challenge.

Do not count on your years of experience getting you placed in a big city school - you get placed where there is a need. It is totally random. Experienced and licensed teachers are placed in Elementary Schools, first timers are placed in Senior Schools.

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Somewhere I Never Dreamed I'd End Up...

Honestly, I never thought Korea was a place I'd ever find myself. It's one of those lovely little countries that, sadly, is often overlooked. Had it not been for the opportunity to teach near Seoul, I think I would have missed it entirely. Korea has so much to offer, and I learn something new everyday. My teaching job has been challenging, exciting, frustrating, surprising, amusing and very rewarding. Korea is very English friendly, which makes traveling a cinch for non-Koreans. The food is fantastic, the cost of living allows me to save more than I ever could back home, I've made wonderful friends through my EPIK teaching orientation and language exchange program, and I've seen some pretty amazing sites. I never thought I'd become a cheerleader for a place that, up until a year ago, I'd never imagined I'd be standing, but Korea will do that to you.