Top 5 Reasons To Teach At April Institute

What Is April English?

Logo of April Institute, an English language program in Korea.

April Institute’s program philosophy is based on creativity and art. It helps students use active imagination, artistic sensibility and expression to study creative thinking and problem solving. The program helps students develop cross-curricular knowledge based on a variety of topics preselected from textbooks used in Korean, American, Japanese and Chinese school curriculums. That’s the official description. Here’s the top 5 reasons why I’m so happy to be working at an April Institute branch. 

 

1. Working Hours

As a certified night owl, I love that my work hours at April Institute are from around noon to 8 p.m. It lets me stay up as late as I want and still get a good night’s rest. Plus, when I need to run errands, I have plenty of time before work to get things done. I can go to the bank, buy groceries, and get brunch with friends all before clocking in to work! I also am never commuting to and from work during peak rush hours, which means less people on the buses and subway. Finally, while my work hours are from noon to 8 p.m., I only end up teaching less than 5 hours a day!

 

2. The Curriculum

All curriculum and lesson plans are the same across April Institute locations, which means I can focus on classroom management, grading, and having fun with my students over the course of my work day. While I’m completely happy with my current branch and Seoul, it also means in theory if I wanted to move to another city in Korea, the learning curve at another branch wouldn’t be very steep! As a first time teacher, the knowledge that I wouldn’t have to extensively lesson plan was a huge comfort when I made the decision to move abroad.

 

3. Student Age Range

The age range of my students at April Institute is from around six to 11 years old, and they are overwhelmingly smart, funny, and kind. Of course, like with any job, there are challenges, but I can sincerely say that I love getting to spend my days talking with these kids. They make me laugh every single day. The fact that I get to help these kids create a foundation for success is really special to me.

 

4. Co-Teacher System

At April Institute, every class you’ll teach has a Korean co-teacher. For me, this means I teach the first half of the class, then my Korean co-teacher teaches the second half. Here are a few of the advantages to this method of schooling: First, my co-teachers have been incredibly helpful when it comes to navigating the nuances of living and teaching in a new culture. Second, we share the responsibility of teaching! Especially as a first time teacher, the knowledge that I have a fellow teacher helping me guide these students has been so comforting. Third, built in friends! One of my dearest friends here in Korea was originally my co-teacher. I’ve asked her for all kinds of advice, attended her wedding, and gone on day trips from Seoul with her when we’re not teaching!

 

5. The Community

From my fellow expat coworkers to my Korean co-teachers and students, April Institute is my community here in Korea. I’m so grateful for a workplace that feels like a home away from home.

Diana Richtman is a writer and ESL teacher living in Seoul, South Korea. Originally from Savannah, Georgia in the United States, Diana holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia in English & Women’s Studies. After receiving her TEFL certification, Diana moved to South Korea where she works at one of Creverse’s April Institutes. When Diana isn’t working, she loves exploring Korea, drinking warm cups of tea, and scaring away her friends with her karaoke performances. 

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Teaching And Living In Ilsan

Where I'm From

I’m a beach girl who spent the last few years in big cities—from NYC to Madrid back to NYC. The moment I decided to pick up my life and move across the world to Korea, I knew I did not want to be in the big city anymore. I missed waking up to the sounds of nature, but I was also wise enough to know I had become accustomed to access. Access to variation and choices, which I wasn’t necessarily willing to give up. I held my breath. With little research and a lot of trust in my amazing recruiter, I ended up in a place that more than met my desires and even exceeded them! Here’s what it’s like living in Ilsan!

 

Where I'm At!

A few months before my departure from New York City, I was informed I would be placed in a city called Ilsan, or ‘a mountain’. Ilsan is about an hour northwest of Seoul in Goyang. I figured, in the worst-case scenario, I could always commute to Seoul on the weekends. However, it turned out that Ilsan is its own vibrant haven. Home to the biggest man-made lake in Asia, there is so much to do outside and many unique places to eat. You can rent bikes and coast for miles or have a picnic in the massive space that is Ilsan Lake Park during cherry blossom season. There are even multiple water parks in Ilsan

 

Endless Access

Ilsan is easy to walk, but it is also connected by endless bus lines and subways. I never feel isolated. The variety of things to do is something I least expected. Some days I get off late, and some days I’m off completely, so it’s nice to have activities that meet those time differences. There are dance studios, two huge open-street shopping malls (Western Dom and Lafesta), endless pochas, 24-hour spas in basements, movie theaters, and endless opportunities to do karaoke. 

While I am still exploring my new home and becoming accustomed to my surroundings, I am thankful to be in a place that feels extremely local and quaint yet well connected and accessible. I highly recommend considering teaching and working in Ilsan if you want to be in the center of nature, with full accessibility to the benefits of city life!

Jasmine Phillips is a wanderlust explorer currently living and teaching English in Ilsan, South Korea. Jasmine is originally from Virginia Beach, VA but has lived in many places, such as Berlin, Madrid and New York City. Her undergrad is in Cultural Anthropology with a minor in international social justice. Her hopes are to eventually continue her studies in Ethnomusicology in South Africa. When Jasmine isn’t working she is curled up with a heart-wrenching memoir, spending time with strangers or painting giant canvases.

Making The Most Of Summer In Korea

Summer has always been one of my favorite seasons for obvious reasons–sunshine, warm nights, beach trips, endless ice cream, and more. Once I moved to Korea to teach English, I realized that navigating the summer season was going to be a little different from what I was used to back home. With the right planning, you can make the most of the summer and enjoy all the unique experiences Korea has to offer.

 

Public fountain show at Banpo bridge in the summer in Korea

Escape To Nature

Summer is a great time to enjoy all of the beautiful nature that Korea has to offer. My favorite summertime destination is Yangyang beach. Yangyang is perfect for water sports enthusiasts like me because they offer surfboard and kayak rentals. I took a surfing lesson there last summer and it was a blast! Yangyang also has a skatepark and some really fun beach clubs and bars, so it’s an ideal place to spend the weekend.

 

If you’re into hiking, then you should check out Seoraksan National Park. This is one of the most beautiful views in all of Korea and features stunning waterfalls and rock formations along the way. We caught the most amazing sunset there which made the hike a core memory of my time in Korea. Seoraksan is a couple hours drive from Seoul, so if you’re looking for something local I recommend you try one of these other hikes.

 

An English teacher hiking Seoraksan Mountain in the Summer in Korea

Events and Festivals

One of the biggest events of the summer is the Boryeong Mud Festival. This festival happens every July and is a great chance to see the Korean coast while enjoying DJ sets, mudslides, and a chance to make new friends. Another great summer event is Waterbomb. Waterbomb is aptly named because it’s a music festival where festival goers have water fights while dancing under the sun. The 2024 lineup is featuring amazing artists like Jay Park, Jessi, Taemin, and more.

English teachers attending the water bomb festival in the summer in Korea

Beating the Heat

If you want to enjoy all the summer events, you’ve got to find ways to stay cool. I grew up with the dry heat of the Canadian summer, so the humidity in Korea took me by surprise. Fortunately, I have found reliable ways to beat the heat. My top tip is to invest in a hand-held rechargeable fan. This will be your best friend during the summer months! My fan also doubles as a phone charging bank which is super convenient. Fans like this are usually sold in subway stations or stores like Daiso.

 

You should also be sure to carry a light-weight umbrella. Not only will this be useful during the rainy season, but Koreans also use umbrellas to block the sun’s rays. We all know it’s much cooler in the shade, so this trick has saved my life while walking to work. My last tip is to invest in a summer wardrobe with moisture-wicking fabrics. I bought myself some shirts and dresses at Lotte department store that were either linen or polyester and it has made a huge difference keeping cool in the summer.

 

People using umbrellas to block the sun in the summer in Korea

Once you’re set with the right clothes and accessories, you can beat the heat by indulging in traditional summer treats like bingsu. Bingsu is a shaved ice dessert that features a ton of delicious flavors. My favorite are mango and green tea. I also suggest you get a pass to the public pool closest to your neighborhood. My friends and I spend nearly every weekend at the pool so we can enjoy the outdoors and stay refreshed by hopping in and out of the water. If you’re not outdoorsy, I recommend you spend your summer enjoying all of the air-conditioned cafes in Korea. Cafe culture here is next level and they never skimp on AC!

 

Shaved ice dessert called Bingsu at a cafe in summer in Korea

Summer Memories

Whether you’re a seasoned expat or a new teacher, summer in Korea is truly special and I hope that you can make the most of every moment. There is no shortage of things to do, so slap on that sunscreen and get out there and enjoy!

 

An English teacher holding sparklers on the beach in the summer in Korea

Michelle Duquette is from Toronto, Canada and moved to South Korea in 2015. She has a Bachelors in English literature and a Masters in ESL Education. Michelle has taught at Creverse campuses in Gangneung, Songpa, and Mokdong and currently works as a CDI and April Trainer. Michelle never set out to be a teacher but fell in love with Korean culture and the excitement of being in the classroom. Michelle lives in Seoul with her partner and two cats, Cherry and Frost. 

Safety In South Korea

A Stark Difference

When my friend from America visited me, we were walking down an unfamiliar street one night on our way to dinner when she said, “You know, I would never do this in America. I’d be too scared.” Thanks to CCTV coverage and good legislation, I find myself almost taking for granted the safety I experience in Korea. My friend’s comment was a reality check and a reminder of why I’m so grateful I moved to Korea in the first place. Random acts of violence in Korea are extremely rare, which is why I feel so safe when walking around Seoul at night time, even as a woman alone!

 

Low Theft

One of my favorite parts of living in Korea is that I can leave my stuff virtually anywhere and no one will take it. I once left a suitcase next to Suseong Lake for an hour-long boat ride and returned to find it exactly where I left it. I frequently leave my phone or laptop out at cafes when I need to use the restroom or grab my order. Not only is this a very common occurrence in Korea, but I also feel genuinely comfortable leaving my stuff out. In the time it’s taken me to write this blog post at a cafe in Seoul, I’ve left my laptop, phone, and wallet unattended twice. Does it sound too good to be true? Check out this video that tests the theory that theft really isn’t an issue in Korea.

 

(Disclaimer: I am not recommending you make it a habit of leaving belongings unattended for long periods of time! Of course, you always want to proceed with caution, but many will reiterate the same experiences.)  

It’s not just personal items that aren’t being stolen. In Korea, there are self-service stores, meaning you can walk into the store where there are no employees! Given the language barrier, this is really great for those days when you want to pick up a snack after work, but you don’t want to speak with anyone! Plus, I think it really shows just how trusting Koreans are! 

 

No Gun Violence

In my opinion, the only thing better than the low theft rate is the lack of gun violence in Korea. South Korea has strict gun laws, which means no one lives in fear of mass shootings. Every time I step into my classroom, I feel unbelievably grateful to live in a place where the children I teach can get their education in peace. Moreover, I feel such comfort knowing I can do the job I love without fearing for my own safety.

 

A Native English teacher in a classroom with Korean middle school students in South Korea
Seoul city streets at night

Safety For Women

In comparison to other foreign cities, Korea is extremely safe for women. My friends and I have never experienced cat-calling, and I frequently walk alone at night without worrying about the men around me. In America, I honestly never walked around alone at night without pepper spray or another method of defense close at hand. No matter where you are, it’s important to remain cautious. However, as a woman in Korea, I find I’m able to enjoy myself when out far more than I ever did in the U.S.

 

Diana Richtman is a writer and ESL teacher living in Seoul, South Korea. Originally from Savannah, Georgia in the United States, Diana holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia in English & Women’s Studies. After receiving her TEFL certification, Diana moved to South Korea where she works at one of Creverse’s April Institutes. When Diana isn’t working, she loves exploring Korea, drinking warm cups of tea, and scaring away her friends with her karaoke performances. 

Getting My F-4 Visa

My Heritage

I’ve wanted to experience living in South Korea since I was 11-years old. Some of my fondest childhood memories are watching my grandmother’s Korean variety shows while eating rolls on rolls of her fresh 김밥(Kimbap, Seaweed rice). 

 

An overseas Korean and his mother
A picture of me and my mother who is half Korean and half Puerto Rican.

In the summer of 2022 I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and this past spring 2024 I received an offer to teach in South Korea. In order to legally teach English in South Korea, a work visa is required. I was under the impression that I would be using a regular, 1-year, E-2 Teaching Visa (E-2 Visa Info); however, I was shocked to learn that I qualify for a 교포 (Gyopo, National), F-4 Visa (F-4 Visa Info). For context: a 교포 (Gyopo) is someone who is ethnically Korean, but has spent most of their life living outside of South Korea. 

 

Overseas Korean

To preface, I’m 25% Korean, 25% Puerto Rican, and 50% White. Aside from a few family friends,  I grew up in an extremely small town with little to no Asian culture. In 2012, I was exposed to the idea of teaching English overseas. Once I learned about this opportunity, it felt like I received a golden ticket to learning more about my Korean culture. 

 

Family picture of an overseas Korean family.
My Korean grandmother and Puerto Rican grandfather with my mother and her sisters.
An overseas Korean family.
My Korean Grandmother at the center of it all!

I qualified for the F-4 Visa due to my grandmother previously holding Korean citizenship. She moved to the United States in 1973 after marrying my Puerto Rican grandfather; therefore she was eventually naturalized as an American citizen. Here are some pictures of my grandparents!

 

F-4 Visa: Overseas Korean (Gyopo)

The F-4 Visa is reserved for someone who’s parents OR grandparents have previously held Korean nationality and withdrew their Korean citizenship; hence the word 교포 (Gyopo, National). This visa has more benefits than a traditional E-2 Teaching Visa such as:

  • not needing a job contract to move to South Korea.
  • being able to legally tutor students as a part-time job. (Must be registered with your local Ministry of Education Office.)
  • holding the visa for 2 years with easy renewal. (After first renewal, it is valid for 3 years.)
  • the ability to apply for the F-4 Visa for while in South Korea on a tourist visa.

While the F-4 Visa has some great benefits, much more documentation is needed to receive it from a Korean consulate. Each consulate office requires different documentation, so applicants must call their local consulate office to double check their requirements (List of all Korean Consulates in the USA). With that being said, here are the documents that I was asked to prepare for the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Washington DC:

 
  • FBI Background check specifically apostilled by the Department of State (Instructions on how to apostille documents)
  • Completed visa application from the Korean Embassy website
  • 2 x 2 printed color photo of the applicant
  • 2 x 2 printed color photo of the previous Korean national
  • A Korean family registry
  • The applicant’s passport and birth certificate
  • The previous Korean national’s passport, naturalization papers, etc.
  • The applicant’s mother’s proof of nationality (birth certificate, passport, naturalization papers, etc.)
  • The applicant’s father’s proof of nationality (birth certificate, passport, naturalization papers, etc.)
  • The applicant’s grandfather’s proof of nationality (birth certificate, passport, naturalization papers, etc.)
  • $55 cash

            When in doubt, bring everything you can to prove your family member previously held Korean citizenship and is no longer a Korean citizen. This can include: marriage licenses, death certificates, photographs, retirement documents, etc. The more legal documentation you can provide, the better chance you have of receiving the F-4 Visa as quickly as possible.

 

A record of an ethnic Korean's family tree
This is an example of an official Korean family registry.

To Be Continued..

Preparing all of the documentation listed above was a grueling process to say the least. With my turn-around time being only 2-3 months, I made sure to get started on finding these documents as soon as I finished my call with the Korean Embassy.

My meeting with the consulate is going to be in June. Stay tuned for an update on how my F-4 Visa meeting goes and the amount of time it takes to receive it!

 

Gabriel (Gabe) White is a soon to be English teacher in South Korea. He is a Korean, Puerto Rican-American  from the Richmond, Virginia area and received a bachelor’s degree in English from Virginia Commonwealth University. Being involved in student organizations like Filipino Americans Coming Together at VCU (FACT@VCU) and VCU Globe during his college years, Gabe learned just how much he enjoys experiencing new cultures. In his free time, Gabe loves teaching local dance classes, spending quality time with his loved ones, exploring new cities, and watching nostalgic movies. 

How To Take A Weekend Trip To Busan

One of my absolute favorite parts of living in South Korea is how safe, affordable, and fun weekend trips can be within the country. Here are some of my best tips and recommendations for visiting Busan!

 

Getting There

You can get to Busan by plane, train, or bus. I opted for the train. After work, I took a taxi to Seoul Station for about 16,000 won, which is only about $11 USD! Taking public transportation is totally feasible, but I decided to splurge to get there a little faster. The train stations are extremely easy to navigate in Korea. Once I was there, I grabbed some snacks for the journey and boarded the high-speed KTX bullet train. Two and a half hours later, I was in Busan! (One-way tickets can be as cheap as $25 USD for a regular train and $37 USD for a high speed train.)

 

Where To Stay

Korea has all the accommodation options you would expect to see in the U.S. from AirBnB to hotels and hostels! There’s something for everyone regardless of budget. I actually met up with some family from back home, and we splurged on a nice AirBnB overlooking Gwangalli Beach. However, budget travelers don’t need to worry. We saw many inexpensive accommodations along the coast. While Haeundae Beach is another popular area in Busan, I loved staying near Gwangalli Beach!

 

What To Do

Now that you’ve gotten yourself to Busan and have somewhere to stay, the fun part begins: Exploring the city! Here are a few recommendations I have from my recent trip!

  • Mereumereu: With a balcony view and a cute puppy to greet customers, this little cafe is a great brunch spot for anyone taking a weekend trip to Busan! If you’re staying near Gwangalli Beach, this cafe is on the way to Haedong Yonggung Temple! I recommend the souffle pancakes!
  • Haedong Yonggung Temple: A temple by the sea! Haedong Yonggung Temple is a must see for anyone wanting to see what a Buddhist temple is like and enjoy the beautiful South Korean coast!
  • Yungkangjjie: We stumbled upon this Taiwanese restaurant completely by accident, but it turned out to be a Michelin star restaurant! Casual, delicious, and quick, this restaurant is a must visit while in Busan. I especially recommend the mapo tofu and fried eggplant!
 

Be Spontaneous

Korea has taught me to be spontaneous and look off the beaten path when it comes to travel. Whether you’re hoping to move to Korea or already live here, I encourage you to book the train, plane, or bus ticket and start exploring this beautiful country on the weekends!

Diana Richtman is a writer and ESL teacher living in Seoul, South Korea. Originally from Savannah, Georgia in the United States, Diana holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia in English & Women’s Studies. After receiving her TEFL certification, Diana moved to South Korea where she works at one of Creverse’s April Institutes. When Diana isn’t working, she loves exploring Korea, drinking warm cups of tea, and scaring away her friends with her karaoke performances. 

My First Weeks Teaching In Korea

Moving to a new country always comes with a mix of excitement and challenges. Teaching in Korea has brought on a whirlwind of new experiences and surprises that has made this one of the best choices I have ever made! Here’s what it’s been like so far living in Korea and teaching at April English in Cheonan, South Korea. 

 

Convenience Is King

One of the things that I noticed within my first week of living and teaching in Korea is the proximity of everything. Hailing from the Toronto area, I’m accustomed to relying on a car for even the most basic errands. Here in Korea, you will be surprised to find that most things (if not everything) you could possibly need is within walking distance. Before I moved to Korea I was really stressed out because I needed a haircut before my flight,  but it was too late to book one. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to find a good salon close by, since I knew I wouldn’t have a car in Korea. 

 

I quickly realized it was a complete non-issue! There’s probably 5 hair salons within a 15-minute walk from my apartment. Everywhere I walk I see cozy cafes, and endless restaurants. There is also a convenience store on every corner of my street. So anytime I’m relaxing and watching some Netflix, I can just quickly run down to the convenience store to grab something if I need a snack or a drink. 

 

Easing In To My Apartment

My apartment came fully furnished, but I still needed to get plates, utensils, cups, bathroom essentials, cleaning supplies etc. Daiso is one of my favorite stores for that. Daiso is the Korean version of the dollar store. It has basically everything you could ever need or want for less than $5. On top of that, everything is so stylish and trendy, and the quality is amazing. You would never even guess that everything in my apartment is from the equivalent of a dollar store! 

 

Teaching And Training

Preparing to teach in a foreign country can be daunting, but the training week was a game changer and helped me to seamlessly transition into the classroom with confidence. When I landed in Korea my training started about 2 days after. The training was for one week. The training covered everything from the lesson plans, classroom management, expectations, and more. My trainer was super friendly and very helpful to me throughout my training week. 

 

The Little Things

One of the first things I tried when I got to Korea was pizza at a Korean chain called “Mr. Pizza.” It is definitely a new experience as Korean-style pizza as it is both a little sweet and extremely cheesy. I was also surprised to see you could order toppings like shrimp and sweet potato! While most people don’t move half way around the world to try Korean-style pizza, it was really fun to just experience something I never knew even existed! I definitely recommend trying it at least once. You can also find popular western chains such as Dominos or Papa Johns if Korean-style pizza isn’t your forte!

 

Moving to Korea was one of the decisions I ever made. From my bustling neighborhood to the convenience of everything, and the invaluable insights gained through training. Each experience has been a stepping stone towards embracing this new chapter of my life. 

Here’s to a year of exploration, learning, and laughter as I navigate the joys of teaching in Korea. I can’t wait to see where my adventure takes me!

 

Aisha Khan is from Brompton, Ontatio, Canada, and earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from York University. She held roles in Account Management and Administration at companies like the the Bank of Montreal, TD Canada Trust,  and Air Canada but was looking for a new adventure. She found Aclipse, and decided to take the leap of faith and teach English abroad.

Being A Vegetarian In Korea

Being a Vegetarian in Korea

If there is one thing I’ve realized about Korean food culture, it’s that they love their meat. When I moved to Korea, I was nervous about finding vegetarian friendly restaurants. But never fear! There are actually a lot of vegetarian and vegan options if you know where to look. Here are some tips for ordering as a vegetarian and some of my go-to restaurants!

 

Ordering as a Vegetarian

Most Korean restaurants specialize in one dish and it is typically something like raw fish, pork, beef, or meat barbeque. Almost all Korean dishes include some kind of meat or fish, so I had a hard time finding where to eat at first. My coworkers were all meat-eaters and I didn’t want to miss out on group meals just because of my dietary restrictions. I quickly learned that all restaurants will serve rice with the meal as well as some kind of side dishes, which are 90% vegetables. If there’s nothing you can order straight off the menu, just ask the server for a bowl of rice and then use the side dishes and gochujang sauce to create some bibimbap! Another option you should look out for at meat based restaurants is soft tofu soup. Just keep in mind that other soups like kimchi jjigae and doenjang jjigae will tend to have a meat or fish based broth. I keep a list of veggie options in my phone that I can show to a server in a pinch which includes:

Bibimbap 비빔밥 – A rice dish with an assortment of veggies, seaweed, and egg. 

Gimbap 김밥 – Korean “sushi” rolls, traditionally made with veggies.

Kimchi 김치 – fermented, spicy cabbage.

Banchan 반찬 – side dishes often served alongside entrees, especially at BBQ restaurants. 

Vegetable Dumplings 야채만두 – Korean dumplings filled with veggies and tofu.

 

While getting resourceful at a meat-based restaurant is a great strategy, I also love to eat at restaurants that cater to a vegan and vegetarian diet. Here are some of my all time favorite spots where you don’t need to compromise taste or choice just because of your lifestyle.

 

Plant Cafe

Plant Cafe is a vegan restaurant that has two locations in Seoul: their namesake restaurant and full size bakery in Itaewon and their newest location in Yeonnamdong. Plant’s menu features delicious items like a mushroom burger, macaroni and cheese, cauliflower wings, and even chili cheese fries. They also have lighter options like veggies and hummus, peanut soba noodles, and smoothies. I recently ordered a birthday cake for my friend’s party and the flavors were unreal. Nobody could believe that the banana salted caramel cake was vegan! Plant Cafe is also a great place to enjoy a soy milk latte, a glass of wine, or my favorite, kombucha!

 

Osegyehyang

This might be the best veggie friendly restaurant I’ve been to! Osegyhyang is located in Jongno amidst the winding alleyways. The restaurant is inside a Hanok style building and has a lovely atmosphere where you can sit on the heated floors and enjoy your meal. I love that they offer traditional Korean dishes that are entirely vegan so you don’t have to miss out on enjoying the culture. It is also very easy to order in English which makes the dining experience that much more convenient.

 

Buddha's Belly

Buddha’s Belly is a Thai restaurant that is vegan and vegetarian friendly. Located in Itaewon, this spot is tucked away on top of a hill which means their patio has an incredible view over the city at night. The servers are very friendly and attentive and provide a comfortable dining experience. Last time I ate here, I ordered the green curry and the Thai fried rice with pineapple, which were both incredible. I went with a non-veggie friend and she was pleased that they served meat options too. Buddha’s Belly is a great place when you’re dining with a big group as they offer all types of options.

While navigating vegetarianism in Korea may seem daunting at first, there are plenty of delicious options to enjoy. I recommend you download the app Happy Cow which will recommend other great vegetarian places to enjoy. As you start living and teaching in Korea, rest assured that you can savor the local cuisine while staying true to your dietary preferences. Bon appétit!

Michelle Duquette is from Toronto, Canada and moved to South Korea in 2015. She has a Bachelors in English literature and a Masters in ESL Education. Michelle has taught at Creverse campuses in Gangneung, Songpa, and Mokdong and currently works as a CDI and April Trainer. Michelle never set out to be a teacher but fell in love with Korean culture and the excitement of being in the classroom. Michelle lives in Seoul with her partner and two cats, Cherry and Frost. 

Should I Get A TEFL Certificate To Teach In Korea?

Teaching In Korea

As you begin exploring opportunities to teach in a South Korea, you may have come across the term TEFL in all of your research. In this post, we will discuss what a TEFL certificate is, the benefits of getting a TEFL certificate and whether it is necessary to have one to teach English in South Korea!

 

What is a TEFL Certificate?

TEFL, which stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language, is a certificate that will provide you with the tools to become a successful English teacher! During the course, you’ll explore topics such as:

 

  • Supporting English language learners
  • Creating dynamic lesson plans
  • Managing classroom interactions
  • Evaluating language abilities
  • Enhancing teaching methods

What are the Benefits of Having a TEFL Certificate?

If you are thinking about teaching in South Korea, getting a TEFL certificate is a great idea!

It provides you with the skills and knowledge to help your students with their language acquisition. You will walk away from the course feeling more confident in your abilities as a teacher and you will be inspired to test out your newly learned skills in real-time!

 

Additionally, earning a TEFL certificate helps your resume stand out in a sea of applications! It shows your dedication to professional growth which is something that employers in South Korea greatly appreciate. Regardless of whether you’re a new graduate or an experienced teacher looking for new opportunities, it can be extremely valuable and will help set you up for success!

 

How Much Does a TEFL Certificate Cost?

The price of getting a TEFL certificate can differ significantly based on various factors: such as the length of the course, the accreditation of the course and if the certificate is online or in person.

In general, you can anticipate spending anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars on a TEFL certificate program. Online courses are usually more cost-effective, while in-person courses may have higher fees due to extra expenses like facilities rentals and classroom materials. Keep an eye out for discounted certificates on platforms such as Groupon, etc – just make sure that they are from a trustworthy organization!!  

 

Do I Need a TEFL To Teach in South Korea?

A TEFL certificate is not a requirement to teach in South Korea! Although, it is highly recommended and will help you feel better prepared before you make the move to teach abroad.

Our Top Pick: The TEFL Academy

There are a lot of different TEFL certifications available, but we highly suggest The TEFL Academy. Known for its in depth courses and internationally recognized certification, The TEFL Academy effectively prepares teachers for success in their classroom!

 

In summary, obtaining a TEFL is great for advancing your teaching career and it is a useful tool for preparing yourself to teach English language learners! With a TEFL certificate, you are not just getting a qualification… you are opening up opportunities to explore new cultures, experiences and career paths!

Bethany Coquelle, growing up and living in both the east and west coasts of Canada, serves as an Overseas Recruiter specializing in South Korea placements since 2017! With a multicultural family and a passion for cultural exchange, she understands the transformative power of connecting people from diverse backgrounds. Inspired by the impact teachers can have on students’ lives, Bethany is dedicated to linking educators with their ideal positions abroad. Whether guiding through the intricacies of teaching in South Korea or providing a compassionate ear, she is committed to supporting your educational journey.

Why I Loved Teaching English In Korea

Applying To Teach On a Whim

My best friend in college is from Seoul, so I decided to visit her the summer before my senior year of College. I was only there for four days, and had no expectations, except to go to a Hello Kitty cafe and to eat a lot of beef. I had close to zero context for Korea, so what I experienced was a sort of reverse Paris Syndrome. Everything took me by surprise, and just felt nice. The crisp cold, the subway jingles, the pace, and the view of a mountain anywhere you looked. 

 

When it was time to look for jobs, I saw a posting on the university job board and applied to teach in Korea on a whim. The idea of finding a cushy corporate job in a big city in the states didn’t sound appealing. Moving abroad and starting over felt ideal. So without giving it much thought, I just did it. I moved in August and so many little things made sense. Having my own apartment with a view of the skyline, walking alone at midnight without worrying about safety, trying foods that not even LA Korean food could live up to. It’s so culturally, historically, aesthetically rich, and there’s such an eye to craft and care that you don’t see in the states. 

 

Moving To Korea

My homesickness dissipated very quickly. Just within training week, I met other teachers who became my best friends. It was surprisingly a lot easier to make friends than I anticipated. I was part of a lot of Facebook groups, but more often I was able to meet people just by being out and about at cafes or at clubs. I also met more and more teachers from other branches, which helped, as we were able to share anecdotes of the hilarious, sweet, and ridiculous things our students would say and do. I’ve maintained these friendships to this day. One just had a baby, another I just had dinner with in Seoul, and one who I video call every month, often to just reminisce about our years together teaching English in Korea. 

 

English teachers acting silly at a restaurant in Korea

My First Year

Within that first year, I traveled to Mongolia and the Philippines, got lasik eye surgery, tried live octopus, and was tour guide to my family and multiple friends from home. I quickly realized that it was very easy to save money, even with shopping, traveling, and eating out a bunch. Because of severance pay and receiving my pension contributions, I was able to save about 18,000 USD within the year, which let me travel abroad for two years after that. I went through so many places in Asia, Europe, and even lived in South Africa for a while. When I ran out of money, it was a no brainer, so I applied to teach in Korea again.

 

Round 2!

This time, I got even more from the experience. I taught with CDI, with the older students, which I loved because we were able to really engage with each other. I got asked to be a marketing assistant, which was so fun and easy, sharing details about my experience with prospective candidates. Shortly after, I also got recruited to be a trainer at the Training Center, showing the incoming teachers the ropes. Training was honestly just as fun as teaching, giving me extra income and a chance to meet even more new people. These opportunities came so seamlessly, and the jobs were so easy and enjoyable that I didn’t have to think too much about them. 

 

Korean middle school students acting silly in their English class at CDI.

Life After Korea

After that year, I felt a little bit antsy to travel elsewhere, so I ended up moving back to South Africa for a while. I had saved a lot that I didn’t have to worry about working, and delved into learning how to tattoo, and pursuing other creative interests. I wouldn’t have been able to do that without all the savings I had from teaching. I’ve since moved to New York, but I’m always fantasizing about what would’ve happened if I stayed. As silly as it sounds, I feel like making that decision to move to Korea really remedied any chances of me having a mid-life crisis. I spent my 20s doing exactly what I wanted, with a low-stress, fulfilling job, safe home environment, and ample time for hobbies. I experienced so many things that I wouldn’t have imagined I’d do throughout a lifetime. I bonded with my students, and still email with them to this day. I visited so many countries, met some of my best friends, and basically let my curiosity lead me wherever. Teaching in Korea allowed me to explore all my desires, and I have no regrets about how I’ve spent my time up to this point. 

 

When Aclipse reached out to me last fall about becoming a recruiter, it was an even easier decision. It feels like such a full circle moment, being on the opposite end of the process that I started all those years ago. Whenever candidates ask me for my honest opinion, I say just go. You really never know what is out there for you, and it will probably exceed what you can even imagine. 

 

Nico Salvador is from Los Angeles, California and graduated from Brown University with a degree in English. She planned to stay in Korea for one year after graduation, but ended up teaching on and off for five years. After travelling the world, Nico now lives in New York and works as a Recruiter for Aclipse while pursuing other new ventures. She has held several key roles at Creverse throughout her time teaching in Korea, and we can’t wait to see where her journey takes her next!