Boasting some of the best salaries and benefits the Korean ESL industry has to offer, English teaching positions with EPIK (The English Program in Korea) are especially popular among graduates of all majors, as well as experienced ESL instructors and certified teachers looking to live and teach English in Korea.
If you’ve been busily researching EPIK program requirements, you might already be aware that, along with a bachelor’s degree and native English proficiency, EPIK also mandates that applicants without a teaching license or experience hold a TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certification.
If you’re still harboring any doubts on that front and hoping you can sidestep this particular requirement, here’s a screenshot of the section on the EPIK application form where you’re explicitly asked to include details on your ESL qualification:
But as you can see, EPIK have made a distinction between in-class and online TEFL training. So, it’s pretty fair to say that you might feel a little confused about which of the two TEFL course options they prefer. 😕
And that confusion is more than justified. There’s a whole bunch of outdated info on the EPIK site (from as far back as 2013, in fact, despite the fact that their requirements have changed since then), along with a sea of conflicting advice on teach abroad forums and blogs online.
That’s why we wanted to break it down for you, below.
The short answer: Yes, an online TEFL will get you a job teaching with EPIK.
Note: If you want to teach at a hagwon (a private school) in South Korea instead, then an online TEFL is also widely accepted.
If you’re browsing your TEFL certification options and facing the choice between an intensive, four-week course in the classroom or a convenient online course for your ESL teacher training, you may have stumbled across some heated debates on Reddit about whether or not online TEFL courses are recommended for EPIK candidates.
Our thoughts? This is a personal decision that only you can make, depending on factors like your financial situation, schedule and learning style. Just bear in mind that the vast majority of people who get accepted into EPIK manage to do so with a 100% online TEFL certification (despite what proponents of onsite TEFL courses tell you!)
The same requirement applies to teaching jobs with other public school programs such as GEPIK, SMOE – you’ll need to get your TEFL certificate before you can be eligible for jobs. (Heads up: A TEFL course also an investment worth making as it’ll automatically bump your salary up to the next level on the payscale.)
Our advice? Go for the the type of TEFL certification course that suits your unique situation. While you’ll see that there’s a field for the number of hours of in-class instruction, EPIK equally accept online TEFL courses consisting of at least 100 hours of study. And if you really want to tailor your ESL training specifically for Korea, you can’t go too far wrong with a TEFL course that offers a specialization in teaching English to Korean speakers
Note: There is one small exception. EPIK teaching jobs located in Busan require applicants to complete a TEFL course that includes a teaching practicum. However, it’s worth noting that positions in Busan are highly competitive and will usually go to candidates who have majored in education and have lots of teaching experience.