As most of you who follow my blog already know, I’m currently teaching English in South Korea.
Since I’ve started teaching here, I’ve gotten some inquiries from others wanting to do the same. Therefore, I’ve decided to answer one of the most frequently asked questions.
Do I need a TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate to teach English in South Korea?
Most, if not all, full-time public school jobs in South Korea require you to have a minimum 100-hour teaching certificate. Some jobs will give priority to applicants who’ve had a 20-hour in-class component in addition to the 100-hour minimum requirement.
TEFL – Teaching English as a Foreign Language
TESOL – Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
CELTA – Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults
If you’re looking for a full-time job at a public school, then yes, you will most likely need a teaching certificate. You might be exempt from this requirement if you have a relevant bachelor’s degree, a teaching license, or adequate teaching experience.
For most hagwon jobs, the main requirement is that you’re a native English speaker with a bachelor’s degree in any field. While you could probably find a hagwon job with only a bachelor’s degree, having a TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate could boost your job prospects and pay. Being white and attractive could also boost your job prospects and pay. (just kidding…kind of)
As with everything in life, there are exceptions. I dated a Korean guy who taught English at a hagwon without a bachelor’s degree or teaching certification. With the right connections, anything is possible.
Public School Programs
“Bachelor’s degree in Education / major in Teaching, TESOL, Second Language Studies, or Education
Bachelor’s degree in any discipline + TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate
Bachelor’s degree in any discipline + Teacher’s License
Bachelor’s degree in any discipline + 1 year TaLK scholar experience”
“Applicants must have completed or currently be enrolled in a 100-hour or more TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certification program. Both online and offline certifications are accepted by GEPIK and Korvia. If you hold a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in English, Education, or Linguistics, you are not required to complete a TEFL/TESOL/CELTA course.”
However, if you’re only wanting to teach part-time or privately tutor English, then no, you won’t need one.
I started out teaching through the TaLK program. TaLK only requires applicants to have completed two years of university and be from one of the seven designated English speaking countries. No teaching certificate required. Even though you get paid, TaLK is considered a scholarship and viewed as volunteering rather than an actual job.
If you’re a Korean citizen with an F2 visa, then you can easily become a private tutor here without a teaching certificate.
Do you have a teaching certificate? If so, through what program?
Yes, I do have a TEFL certificate. I bought a 160-hour TEFL online course for $39. The course I bought is still available on Groupon if you’d like to purchase it. Here’s the (non-affiliated) link. Once you purchase the course, you have to finish it within six months, unless you pay to extend.
Although it says 160 hours, you only need to do 120 hours of it. After 120 hours, you can get a certificate of completion. The extra 40 hours is for if you want an additional certificate for teaching young learners. I stopped once I got the 120-hour certificate.
It’s a lot of reading and quizzes. To be honest, I skimmed through most of the readings. I was able to pass the quizzes with common sense and knowledge I gained from my TaLK training.
At the end, you have to complete a comprehensive test, respond to a writing prompt, and create a lesson plan.
I knocked out the comprehensive test and writing prompt first since they were fairly easy. The lesson plan portion took a bit more time to do because they give you specific scenarios to base your lesson plan on.
My TEFL certification was a minimal time and monetary investment. After setting my mind on it, I managed to finish it in about a month. Although it says 120 hours, it doesn’t actually take that much time to complete unless you slowly read through every module.
Personally, I wouldn’t recommend spending a lot of money on getting a teaching certificate if you’re not even sure whether you’ll like teaching. Getting a cheap online TEFL certificate will be enough to land you your first job. Then once you have some teaching experience and references, finding another job won’t be hard.
But if you have the money and time to spare, doing an in-class teaching course wouldn’t hurt. Just be ready to shell out a lot more dough…
Yes. You’ll need a minimum 100-hour TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate to obtain a full-time public school job in South Korea. There are exceptions for those with a relevant bachelor’s degree, a teaching license, adequate teaching experience, or the right connections.
This post is primarily for those wanting to teach English in South Korea. Other countries may be more or less strict on their TEFL/TESOL/CELTA requirements.
If you have any comments on questions, feel free to drop them below. 🙂