EPIK In Korea
EPIK is the Ministry of Education sponsored English Program In Korea, where native speakers with Bachelor’s Degrees teach conversation in primary and secondary public schools – they may also assist local teachers improve their English and develop materials. The program was established in 1995 and to date has placed nearly 2000 teachers.
To get a feel for other placement programs and/or chains, check out the TEFL Logue’s Finding A Job Table of Contents. For more on EPIK, read on!
Teachers arrive during the last week of August and start teaching in the first week of September. The ten-day orientation program includes “Understanding Korean Language”, teaching pronunciation, and tips on team teaching, among other things.
Once the school year starts, teachers are required to work eight hours five days a week (with no more than 22 instructional hours); participation in extracurricular events is also compulsory. Posts on Dave’s ESL Café indicate that it might be worthwhile to investigate if you are free to leave the school when you are not teaching.
The benefits include a salary starting at 1,800,000 won/month and typical benefits like accommodation (or 300,000 won/month for this if you find your own), payment of half of your health insurance, and a one way ticket from home (or half of a return). Holiday time currently seems to be 14 days a year but has apparently been higher in the past.
How does working at a public school compare to working in a hagwon (private language school)? A variety of posts I saw at Dave’s seemed to feel public schools in general were better places to work given the risk of a hagwon turning out to be awful. But a few dissenters did find positive angles to hagwon employement. I am a bit stumpted as to why more teachers haven’t been placed by EPIK given how many go to Korea. It is possible, though, and it would seem not so uncommon, to find work at public schools on your own as well, which may explain this. Have a look around the Korean Job Discussion Forums at Dave’s ESL Cafe to form your own impression (but by all means do a search before posting so you don’t get yelled at!).
Also check out the EPIK site thoroughly, and when you’re ready, apply here.