Choosing where in the world to teach English is one of the most exciting sides of TEFL. It’s also the most difficult.
With so many fascinating and diverse countries to choose from, it’s easy to see why.
If you’re thinking about teaching in Asia, have you considered South Korea? Not as populated with tourists as other countries in East Asia, South Korea is a firm favourite among EFL teachers.
With its intriguing blend of modernity and tradition, not to mention generous teaching packages, it’s no wonder South Korea is one of the top TEFL destinations.
Here are six reasons why so many teachers decide to teach English in South Korea.
Whether the bright lights of a bustling city or the slower-paced charms of rural life appeals to you, South Korea has an excellent balance.
The country’s vibrant capital, Seoul, offers so much to experience. With its modern skyscrapers, lively nightlife (including plenty of karaoke rooms) and must-see attractions, you’ll never run out of things to do in this cosmopolitan city. The hardest part will be choosing what to do first!
Seoul isn’t the only exciting city, though. Busan, Jeonju and Daegu are all great cities to teach English in South Korea and enjoy a faster-paced lifestyle.
Prefer quieter surroundings? Smaller towns in South Korea offer a slower pace of life but by no means less exciting. Experience the lesser-known gems in rural Korea while gaining an insight into the more traditional side of the country. South Korea’s well-connected public transport systems mean you shouldn’t have any problems exploring less-visited areas either.
South Korea’s combination of mountains and coast makes it a breath-taking destination, particularly if you love the outdoors. Home to 22 national parks and countless mountains, hiking is a popular pastime and great for taking in the stunning surroundings.
In the winter, the many mountain resorts will be a firm favourite among skiers and snowboarders who want to hit the slopes.
And let’s not forget the beaches. You’d be forgiven for not associating South Korea as a sun-and-sand destination. But, as it’s a peninsula, the country has miles and miles of beautiful coastlines and beaches to explore. Whether you want to surf or simply soak up the sun, there’s a beach for you in South Korea.
You can also explore the country’s many islands. Jeju, for instance, is South Korea’s most famous island. It’s one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature and popular among travellers. Other islands waiting to be explored include Ulleungdo, Hongdo, Geojedo and Oedo.
Generous teaching packages
Teach English in South Korea and you’ll typically find a good package for native English-speaking teachers.
Public and private (Hagwon) schools throughout the country usually provide free accommodation and flight reimbursements. Wouldn’t that be a load off your mind? Not only that, but salaries tend to be very fair. The average full-time teaching salary is around 2 million-2.5 million Won (£1,280 – £1,600 / $1,670 – $2,000) per month, so you can easily set money aside to pay for your next adventure.
Teaching hours in South Korea can be long. But with generous paid holiday entitlements often the case, you’ll have plenty of time to experience all the delights the wonderful country has to offer.
Rich history and culture
South Korea offers an intriguing mix of old and new. While it’s home to some of the most modern cities in the world, the country’s rich history and traditions haven’t been lost. You really are spoilt for choice when it comes to historical sites you can visit. South Korea has 12 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and countless cultural landmarks to explore. There’s Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul, Daejeonsa, the largest temple in Cheongsong-gun, and don’t forget the historic city of Gyeongju. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
You can also find traditional hanok villages with Korean wooden houses to admire. Jeonju Hanok Village is the largest hanok district in South Korea. Not only can you take in the architecture, but you can also take part in traditional experiences like tea ceremonies and hanji-making programs.
Even today, you’ll see people in traditional clothes (hanbok) and be able to watch traditional Korean dance and music performances.
Tasty food to try
How can talk about South Korea and not mention the delectable cuisine? Visit restaurants, order fast food and roam street markets to sample authentic Korean food.
There’s so much to enjoy, from stews and soups to noodle dishes and vegetable side dishes. Kimchi (fermented vegetables) is a traditional Korean side dish that accompanies every Korean meal. It’s so popular that Korean families set aside time in the winter for an event called gimjang (the annual kimchi-making).
Other well-known dishes you must try are hoeddeok (sweet syrupy pancakes), bulgogi (marinated beef barbecue) and sundubu-jjigae (soft tofu stew).
High standard of living
The cost of living to teach English in South Korea can be reasonably affordable. According to Expatistan, the cost of living in Seoul, for example, is 38% cheaper than living in London.
There are many ways to keep expenses down. Remember, your employer usually covers your accommodation. What’s more, you can save money by avoiding imported food and tourist hotspots. The cost of public transport is relatively low too. This means your daily commute will be affordable, and you can easily explore other destinations in South Korea on holidays and weekends.
South Korea also has eight international airports and one of the highest-rated airlines with direct flights throughout Asia. Teach English in South Korea and you can do a job you love while also having the chance to save and travel as much as you like.
There’s also a huge emphasis on education and the importance of English in South Korea. Therefore, English teachers are highly respected, which is incredibly beneficial when teaching a class of young or adult learners.
Want to teach English in South Korea? Our all-inclusive paid internships offer the perfect opportunity. Not only do you get your 120-hour TEFL training, but you also get a one-year teaching placement, flight reimbursement, accommodation and more. Not to mention the chance to experience everything we’ve mentioned in this blog!