I can¡¯t speak Korean What should I do?

Don¡¯t worry. Learning the Korean alphabet (Hangeul) is very easy. It should only take a day or two at the most to master the basics. After that, you¡¯ll be able to read anything even if you don¡¯t understand what it means. At first, try to master a few useful phrases like: ¡°How much does this cost¡± ¡°Thank you.¡± ¡°Where is the restroom¡± etc. Any you¡¯ll be fine out in public. Also, it will be very useful to learn the money/number systems. If you do these things, you¡¯ll be speaking basic Korean in no time. If you want to become more advanced in the language, classes are available in many places, or you could meet a Korean friend for language exchange!


What kind of housing can I expect?

Most institutions provide single housing free of charge OR a housing allowance. If free housing is provided, the residence should come equipped with the basic necessities, which usually include a bed, washing machine, refrigerator, basic cooking utensils and kitchen appliances, fan, television. The residence will be chosen and provided by the institution. If housing allowance is provided, the institution will provide a certain amount of money each month as stated in the work agreement contract. In this case, the teacher is usually responsible for finding their own place of residence as well as living necessities. Korea is a small country with lots of people, so housing might be smaller than you expect/are used to.


What will my pay be like?

Monthly salaries vary depending on the location and type of institution you choose. Generally, you can expect at least 2,000,000 KRW(\) (about 1,600 USD, depending on current exchange rate). Be aware that the exchange rate can vary greatly based on the world economy. You can find the current exchange rate at: http://www.xe.com/ucc/


What are my employer¡¯s responsibilities?

The most common visa type for new teachers in Korea is E-2. Your employer will be your sponsor and act as your guardian/representative while you live in Korea. The employer usually will match you 50/50 for national health insurance. The Korean government offers a pension plan for many foreigners (check the policy for your particular country). If you are eligible, your employer is required to match your contribution to the Korean Pension Office. The amount you pay is based on your net pay each month. Upon exiting Korea, you will fill out a form and the Korean government will wire the funds you have contributed to your bank account in your home country.


What will my monthly expenses be like?

As is usually the case, housing will be provided by the institution. In this case, you will live rent free. Cable, land phone, and internet usually come as a package and are about 50,000\ per month on average. Cost of gas and electricity are relatively inexpensive, definitely less than 100,000\ total in peak heating/cooling months. Probably closer to 50,000\ total, on average. National Health Insurance is around 50,000 after your employer matches your contribution. Cooking and heating in Korea are usually gas. Of course, food will vary in cost depending on where and what you eat. As a rule, food is roughly the same price as it is at home, although some imported foods, meats, and alcohol can be pricey. Public transportation is very easy to use and very cheap. You can go anywhere in Seoul for less than 1,500\ and you can travel almost anywhere in the country by bus or train for reasonable prices.


What will I eat?

Korean food is probably much different than what you are used to eating at home. The staples are rice and kimchi (cold, spicy fermented cabbage. It¡¯s much better than it sounds!) More often than not, the food is spicy but not unbearable as many Koreans might lead you to believe. Pork is definitely the most widely consumed meat. Koreans eat a lot of soups with various ingredients. It would be wise to find a Korean restaurant where you live and order a few things from the menu to get an idea about the local cuisine. There are lots of foreign restaurants in Korea, especially in the cities, so if you hate Korean food you have that option, but foreign food can get pricey. Living a single life in Korea, you might find that it can be both cheaper and more convenient to eat out. Depending on your eating/cooking habits/tolerance, shopping at any of the big markets can be exciting and cost-effective as well.


How about taxes?

Definitely contact your local tax official before you come to Korea to be sure of the rules and regulations regarding your tax responsibilities at home while you are away. Usually, you don¡¯t need to claim your Korean income in your home country. You will pay Korean income tax (around 3.3%).


How do I open a Korean bank account?

Once you get your work E2 visa, and alien card, you can just go to the bank and they will set-up your account. Bring your passport with you and maybe one additional piece of I.D. Often times, someone at your institution will go with you and help you.


How do I pay my bills?

There are a few options. Often times, someone at your institution will help you. If not, no worries. You can just go to the bank and give your bill and cash to the teller. The teller will pay it for you, and there is usually the option to set up automatic withdrawal every month. Also, internet banking is prevalent in Korea, so if applicable, ask your Korean friend, coworker, or manager to help you set up an online account.


How do I wash my clothes?

Most homes have only a washing machine. No dryer. You will dry your clothes on a drying rack. It can be inconvenient at times, but be happy that you are doing your part to conserve energy! Dry cleaners are a dime a dozen. Very cheap and high quality.


Should I bring my computer?

Korea has tons of PC rooms (internet cafes) which are high tech and cheap (usually around 1,000 per hour). Also, you will have internet access at your workplace. But, yes, it makes sense to bring along a laptop or a desktop if you want to have convenience and privacy at home.


How do I make (international) phone calls?

There are lots of shops where you can buy international phone cards (especially in Itaewon, the foreign district of Seoul). Also, calling cards can be quite cheap if purchased online. You¡¯ll need help from a Korean friend or coworker for that. Once you¡¯ve bought your card, try to make calls from a landline if possible. That way, you won¡¯t rack up minutes on your cell phone. By the way, almost everyone in Korea has a cell phone. If you don¡¯t have one, your life might be difficult, so get one as soon as possible. You can get a regular plan through your employer (or if you¡¯re lucky, a friend). Or you can buy prepaid minutes. Ask a foreign coworker to recommend a good option for you.


Are there places to exercise?

Yes. Korea has lots of gyms. They are cheap, usually around 40,000 or 50,000\ per month. There are also lots of running/cycling tracks next to the rivers, and the government is in the midst of a project to connect the entire country with such tracks.


What¡¯s the weather like in Korea?

Hot, muggy and rainy in the summer. Cold and windy in the winter. Spring and Fall are very enjoyable. I¡¯d compare it to New England with less snow.


Can I bring pets?

Usually, yes. Be sure to clear it with you employer. You pet will probably need to be vaccinated. For more info, follow this link: http://www.airport.or.kr/iiacms/pageWork.iia?_scode=C1202010700&fake=1146343475524


Can I drink the water?

The Korean government insists that tap water is safe to drink. Most people still choose to boil their water, though, and bottled water is very cheap and abundant.


Do I need to get any vaccinations before I come?

If you are a citizen of the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, or the UK, you do not need to get any vaccinations.


Can I go to church?

Many churches offer English services.


Is Korea safe?

Very. Korea is one of the safest places in the world, even in the city at night. Of course, one should always practice safe behavior, but teachers in Korea need not be overly worried about crime.


What do I do when I arrive at the airport in Korea?

Don¡¯t worry! Incheon International Airport is one of the best airports in the world. It would be very difficult to get lost there. When you arrive, a representative from your school will be there to pick you up. Just look for a sign with your name on it after you go through customs.



 

I¡¯ve never taught English before. Can I do it?

Sure. The English you¡¯ll be teaching will be very simple for the most part. Just be sure to put in the necessary prep time before the lesson so you don¡¯t get caught in front of the class with a question you can¡¯t answer! Basically, teaching in Korea is a relaxed job that affords teachers the opportunity to experience another culture and travel in and around Asia. Also, it is a stepping stone for people who are considering teaching in the future, but aren¡¯t quite sure if teaching is for them yet.


I¡¯ve heard that teaching private lessons can be fairly lucrative. Is this true?

Yes, teaching private lessons can make you upward of 50,000\ per hour. BUT, teaching anywhere other than at the institution that is sponsoring your visa is illegal. Getting caught can result in termination of your contract and/or a hefty fine and or/ deportation, so be careful.


Will I be teaching alone?

Usually, yes, although some institutions require you to work with a (Korean) partner teacher. Also, cameras are becoming more prevalent in the classroom, so you may be observed at times. Also, you will probably be expected to teach lessons to children while their parents visit the classroom at least once or twice a year. This will make you sweat a bit, but it¡¯s harmless, and usually turns out to be fun and rewarding.


Which age group will I be teaching?

There are thousands of institutions in Korea with students ranging from kindergarten to adult. Find the one that is best for you!


How long are the classes?

Classes are usually between 40 and 50 minutes.


How many students are usually in a class?

Rarely over 15. Usually between 8 and 12.


I¡¯m no good at public speaking. Will I make it?

For the most part, students are very respectful and good natured. If you aren¡¯t comfortable in front of groups, Korea is a great place to get better. Class sizes are usually less than 15 students, depending on where you teach.


Are there any charges for recruiting services?

No. If a recruiting service tries to charge you, find another recruiting service immediately.



 

Well, there are many reasons. Here are a few:

1. Great cost of living to pay ratio. Definitely possible to save money.
2. Furnished apartment in a major city OR idyllic country.
3. Low income tax rate.
4. Roundtrip airfare usually paid for by employer.
5. Access to medical insurance as well as high tech medical care.
6. Manageable class size (not too big).
7. Paid holidays (Korea has 15 national holidays per year).
8. Severance pay (usually equivalent to 1 month salary at the end of a contract)!
9. A great way for inexperienced teachers to see if teaching is the right job for them.
10. Very unique, healthy and delicious cuisine. Koreans take great pride in their food!