English Program in Korea Reviews | Glassdoor

English Program in Korea Reviews

Updated June 20, 2017
28 reviews

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28 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • The cost of living in South Korea is low compared to the US for me so I was able to completely clear my debt of student loans in two years (in 8 reviews)

  • Amazing pay and benefits for relatively low work and stress (in 6 reviews)

Cons
  • Last minute changes, long wait times (in 11 reviews)

  • There isn't any room for growth (in 5 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "EPIK Teacher"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    Pros

    Great opportunity to teach English while learning another culture. Full immersion as you will most likely be the only foreigner in your school.

    Cons

    Once you're done with orientation, you are on your own.


  2. "Okay place to work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends

    I worked at English Program in Korea full-time

    Pros

    Easy to apply, no brainer. Good place if in between jobs and not sure of your next step. Easy pay.

    Cons

    Not able to decide where they will place you. Luck of the draw.

  3. Helpful (2)

    "Easy and fun job but the teacher management is worse than before"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends

    I worked at English Program in Korea full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Fun classes, easy workload, lots of free time, low accountability, cultural experience, great coworkers mostly

    Cons

    The management of foreign teachers is getting meaner and taking away benefits slowly. It often makes teachers feel like we are little children.

    Advice to Management

    Reward teachers for good work and make incentives to stay


  4. Helpful (4)

    "This experience was very fulfilling"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I worked at English Program in Korea full-time

    Pros

    The cost of living in South Korea is low compared to the US for me so I was able to completely clear my debt of student loans in two years. The benefit package with working in a public school was excellent (severance pay, pension, health insurance, and joining flight to Korea). Excellent orientation program in Seoul that was a week long I really enjoyed.

    Cons

    I was placed rurally opon arrival and that was a major shock for me. I think that candidates really need to be informed the lack there of if they were placed in a rural school. Being required to "desk warm" during winter and summer months was torture for me and that was of the main reasons why I would never want to work in a public school again. Weeks on end of coming to school with no objective I cannot do again.


  5. Helpful (6)

    "Job satisfaction mostly comes down to your co-teacher and school compatibility."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I worked at English Program in Korea full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    EPIK gives the best contracts, hours, and most stable employment of any English teaching job I know of in Korea except a university teaching position.
    Teaching in a public school is a real Korean immersion work experience. I got to witness firsthand what life is like in a Korean school.
    Work starts and ends at an early hour, leaving time to do what you want every evening.
    There is the obvious opportunity to stay long term in a new country and explore what life has to offer there.
    Depending on your co-teacher and school, you will have a lot of flexibility to prepare your portions of the class lessons and plenty of office time to get ready or just relax and do your own thing.
    There is a generally higher standard of teachers in EPIK, so there is somewhat better reputation and peace of mind to be teaching in a public school.

    Cons

    I was placed in an apartment over an hour from my school. My morning ritual of switching between bus and subway lines was so miserable and time-consuming I wanted to quit as soon as my first year contract was up. My school was in a bad neighborhood on the edge of the city, and every teacher commuted a good distance to get there, so whoever chose my contractual apartment for me found one n a district where "there are a lot of foreigners" and some other teachers at my school lived. They had cars though, and I was not at all a high priority, and being that the Korean way is to abide and not complain and try to assure one's superiors that everything is well, I don't think it ever occupied to anyone that my living and transportation situation was awful and really spoiled a lot of my experience there. So be prepared to possibly get put in a school that is seen as a low level, unattractive school in a very out of the way location. It really is a roll of the dice you're going to have to make do for a year.
    My first co-teacher flat out told me she was tired of teaching and wished she had chosen another occupation. I think that getting along with your co-teacher and having a professional co-teacher who runs a disciplined class is crucial to your enjoyment of teaching and generally your Korean experience. You can try to use your best teaching and personal communication and conflict resolution skills, but don't expect to have much success. You are the foreigner who is appreciated as a novelty, not a co-equal whose voice will be respected and followed, and the horror stories abound of bad co-teachers and principals who just don't budge on irrational and burdensome decisions.
    During the students' summer and winter vacation, you are still expected to come to school and sit at your desk all day. It is completely absurd and without good reason, but being Korea people just say, "Yeah, that's Korea." I sometimes sat alone all day like "The Shining" in a freezing, quiet, empty building without seeing another teacher all day (only a few other teachers ever had to come to school during vacation). Don't ask me why the least regarded teacher, the Guest English Teacher, had to be there. The overseas experience would have been MUCH better if the school vacation time were extended and made standard for teachers across the city or region. You don't even know what days you get for personal vacation until your school and co-teacher decide you will have your break time English camps. It's a big mess that I think everyone agrees needs to be cleaned up.

    Advice to Management

    I honestly don't think the management is interested in what foreign English teachers have to say. Nothing is going to change. The superiors continue doing things the way they've always been done, and the inferiors live with the absurdities to keep up appearances and just grumble privately or get drunk to relieve the stress. The idea of Korean higher-ups listening to foreign guest workers is laughable to I think anyone who has worked in Korea.


  6. Helpful (2)

    "Great beginning to an ESL teaching career, or to just explore the field."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Guest English Teacher
    Former Employee - Guest English Teacher
    Recommends

    I worked at English Program in Korea full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Great compensation and benefits at the time of employment, although those have drastically decreased. If you are placed with a good school and have a nice co-teacher, the experience can be awesome.

    Cons

    If you have a bad relationship with your school or co-teacher, it can be a VERY long year.

    Advice to Management

    Although the head district coordinators tried to create a good system, the system is one that cannot be changed because it's dictated by policy. Be more upfront with teachers about the opportunity and expectations, and go back to better vacation benefits.


  7. Helpful (2)

    "Good opportunity, no support"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    Pros

    Get to live abroad, experience a new culture, good orientation in beginning as far as culture goes.

    Cons

    After orientation, you are on your own, preparing you for teaching could be better.

  8. "It is what you make of it"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Teacher
    Current Employee - Teacher
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    I have been working at English Program in Korea full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    I've had an amazing two years with EPIK, but I have to stress that your experience teaching in Korea will be what you make of it.

    -The benefits are great. Decent salary, free housing, insurance
    -You have an assigned coteacher to help you with necessities in Korea (bank account, phone plan, etc)
    -The students and teachers will be interested in you. Don't be shy and don't be offended; they are just curious!
    -You will have a lot of free time. Start a blog, write a book, start a hobby you can frequent at a desk.

    Cons

    I've heard some stories of EPIK teachers having uncooperative coteachers. You can read stories on waygook.org.


  9. "Okay for a first ESL job"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Contractor - Native English Teacher in Wonju (South Korea)
    Former Contractor - Native English Teacher in Wonju (South Korea)
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at English Program in Korea as a contractor (More than a year)

    Pros

    As with other ESL jobs, this is a great way to explore a new country and become familiar with another culture. The salary is also pretty good, and it is relatively easy to get accepted for a teaching position here.

    Cons

    One common complaint among EPIK teachers is Korean work culture. Expect to be told important information at the very last minute for no apparent reason (on several occasions a colleague came running into my office to tell me 'One of next week's class has been moved forward to today, the students are already in the classroom waiting for you to teach'). Koreans also have unhealthy drinking habits which they may try to impose on you (I was required to attend 'work meetings' one weekday evening each month, which involved the school staff giving each other shots of soju at a restaurant until everyone was blind drunk, considered team building). And even the Koreans who are English teachers can be very reluctant to speak with you more than they have to because they fear making an English mistake and thus losing face.

    As for me personally, I had a main school with a (well-deserved) bad reputation, though that's just the luck of the draw. I liked both of my two non-main schools.

    Finally, EPIK's management does not tell new teachers which city, town, village or (in the case of one of my friends) isolated boarding school you will be placed in until the day you arrive there. This is done because they worry that some new teachers wouldn't like where they are placed and would decide not to go to Korea through EPIK.

    Advice to Management

    Let new teachers know where they will live before it is too late for them to back out. Forcing people to live and teach where they are unhappy isn't good for anyone.


  10. "EPIK - Gangwondo Province"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Teacher in Sachang, Kangwon (South Korea)
    Former Employee - Teacher in Sachang, Kangwon (South Korea)

    Pros

    Freedom to travel during winter and summer break
    Minimal time commitment
    Students are usually very sweet and kind (elementary)
    You can explore Korea and its culture

    Cons

    Minimal English speakers available in schools so no assistance or prior notice with school events, holidays, living inquiries, etc.


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