teaching English in Korea

First of all, I’m not an English teacher. And as you can read from my posts, I don’t write (nor speak) perfect English. I make a lot of grammatical errors for me to qualify as a teacher, but then even Pres. George Bush who’s a native speaker and has a lot of degrees under his belt also makes mistakes. 😀

So why the heck am I writing about teaching English in Korea? It’s because I have friends who’ve been asking me about teaching opportunitites here. You see, a lot of Koreans go to the Philippines to study English. They pay as much as if they’re enroled in an English-learning institute here. The only difference is that they have their own teachers instead of being in a class of ten or more students. And also, being in a foreign country may force them to speak the language more. Not to mention that they can experience the “beautiful” weather that we have back home and the friendliness of the people.

One of my friend’s sister majored in English and she has been tutoring since she was a junior in college. Her Korean employer offered to take her to Korea for one summer and pay her $500 a month. Whoa!!! I told her not to accept it because she won’t be compensated as much as she deserves and it’s illegal for a Filipino to teach English here. The Korean government only recognizes teachers from six native English speaking nations. These are the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. If you’re not a citizen of those countries, then you cannot teach English legally in South Korea. In addition, those people get a monthly compensation of at least $1,800 plus a lot of perks for less than a 40-hour job. And private teaching is also illegal if you don’t have a permit. Would you believe that private tutors receive as much as $40 per hour?

Some Filipinos here do work as English teachers, but not legally. They cannot be granted an E-2 visa which is the foreign language teacher’s visa. It’s not even legal for a foreign wife of a Korean to teach English, unless she has been granted Korean citizenship. And that is the reason why foreign wives are forced to abandon their nationality and acquire their husband’s. If I meet a foreign wife who is not an English teacher, I would be surprised. So far, I’ve known four people who are not English teachers here: Ate Rowena (the organizer of ISKA) works for KOIS (publisher of Korea.Net); Katie is a reporter for the Korea Times; Malou works for the local Metrobank branch in Seoul; while Anna is an administrative assistant at an architectural firm. So if you meet a Filipina who had renounced her Filipino nationality, she did it mainly because she needed to rather than her wanting to. I would do the same in the near future because I won’t be able to be of help financially if I don’t. I hope to be able to find a non-teaching job but that’s a longgggggggggggggggggggg shot!

In case you get offered an English-teaching job here in Korea, keep in mind that you’ll have to do it illegally. 😉


  1. My Pinay wife had a hard time breaking into the English teaching world here because she is not a blond, blue eyed white woman. Koreans just don’t think that anyone else speaks English I guess, or that it won’t be authentic.

  2. when i started working in korea, i was not yet a korean citizen. my bosses registered my name as a staff worker and not as a teacher. i never knew that what i was doing (teaching despite my visa limitations) was illegal, i thought that since i was registered as a worker, i’m allowed to work in that place in any capacity…good thing i didnt encounter any problems. now, ill encourage anybody to check their visa limitations before doing anything, mahirap na better safe than sorry! nice day to you, betchay!

  3. Hi. I didn’t realize that it there was a law about teaching English in Korea. Are we talking about South Korea here? I would’ve thought they’d have more freedoms.

    Anyway, is it absolutely necessary for you to drop your Filipino citizenship to teach English? If not, then maybe you can just be a dual citizen instead. Unless of course they do not allow dual citizenship in Korea.

    Here’s a hypothetical question. What if a Filipino married a Korean and they have a child. Can the Filipino teach his/her child English or is that prohibited too?

  4. Geejay >> hehe! you can do private teaching as long as you’re discreet… private teaching is illegal if you don’t have permit, even if you’re a korean… like miguk said, they don’t really think that any other nations other than the 6 speaks authentic english… they don’t even believe that korean-americans speak real english even if they were born and raised in the US

  5. i will like to travell to korea to teach in english but i dont have that money to do my journey,cant the president pay for my fares and later bill me,my ambition is to help koreans speak english.am a GHANAIAN.

  6. Ms. Betchay, your English is good, don’t worry!

    And a lot of native speakers themselves aren’t also perfect in terms of their grammar and pronunciation (sometimes).

    Who cares? In the real world, what’s important is you get to speak English in a manner that is easily understandable, and that your sentence structure is acceptable to the ears of the listener. It’s not about perfecting the grammar. Sometimes, we have to break the rules.

    Kahit nga sa Tagalog, mismong Filipinos may mali din sa pagsasalita e. Katulad ng “Nakain ka na ba?” (if translated in English, it would literally mean, “Have you been eaten yet?”) Funny no? In Laguna, many people would ask you this question, instead of saying it correctly, “Kumain ka na ba?” But then, that’s coming from a Tagalog-native speaker.

    Anyway, I would like to react about Filipinos having a hard time finding a teaching job. Yes, it’s true. They can’t be granted an E-2 visa.
    I have been waiting for the time when it would be possible for Filipinos to legally teach English in Korea. I just don’t know when. Kasi dito, pag wala kang kakilala or connection, ang hirap makapasok sa trabaho, not unless sa factory ka mag-work. And you really have to learn the Korean language fluently because most hagwons / schools need a lot of translating while teaching English.

  7. “they don’t even believe that korean-americans speak real english even if they were born and raised in the US”

    Wow, how sad! Just because they don’t possess the physical attributes of a “real” American–blonde hair, blue eyes? Even though they have the American accent and mentality and have acquired the American way of life since birth? Even if they have been well-educated and can perform the job well? Tsk tsk tsk. Now that’s already racism. Sad but true.

  8. Hi Peppermint! Things have changed. The Immigration is more lenient now with F-2-1 visa holders with regards to teaching English, unlike when I first came here.


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