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Can I teach in Korea without knowing Korean?


Teaching abroad is a great way to experience a new culture while earning a living. If you’re interested in teaching in Korea, you may be wondering if it’s possible to do so without knowing the Korean language. In this article, we’ll explore this question and provide you with all the information you need to know about teaching in Korea without knowing Korean.

The Requirements for Teaching in Korea

Before we dive into the question of whether or not you can teach in Korea without knowing Korean, let’s first take a look at the requirements for teaching in Korea. Generally, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree, a clean criminal record, and to be a citizen of one of seven English-speaking countries.

The Importance of Speaking Korean

While it’s not necessarily required to speak Korean to teach in Korea, it is highly recommended. Being able to communicate with your students, co-workers, and other locals will make your experience much more enjoyable and productive.

The Benefits of Speaking Korean

Aside from being able to communicate with others, speaking Korean also opens up more job opportunities and higher salaries. Many employers prefer teachers who can speak Korean and are willing to pay them more for their language skills.

The Challenges of Teaching Without Knowing Korean

Teaching without knowing Korean can be challenging. You may struggle to understand your students’ needs and have difficulty communicating with them. Additionally, you may feel isolated from the local community and have trouble adjusting to life in Korea.

Strategies for Teaching Without Knowing Korean

If you’re determined to teach in Korea without knowing Korean, there are some strategies you can use to make your experience easier. These include using visual aids, relying on body language and gestures, and using translation tools.

The Importance of Cultural Awareness

When teaching in Korea, it’s important to be aware of and respectful of Korean culture. Understanding cultural differences can help you better connect with your students and co-workers and make your experience more enjoyable.

The Role of Co-Teachers

In Korean schools, teachers typically work in pairs with a co-teacher. Your co-teacher can provide valuable support and help you navigate the language and cultural barriers you may face.

Teaching English in Korea

If you’re teaching English in Korea, you’ll likely be teaching grammar, reading, writing, and speaking skills. While speaking Korean is not required, it can be helpful when teaching pronunciation and helping students understand grammar concepts.

Teaching Other Subjects in Korea

If you’re teaching a subject other than English, such as math or science, speaking Korean may be less important. However, it’s still important to be able to communicate effectively with your students and co-workers.


Teaching in Korea without knowing Korean is possible, but it comes with its challenges. If you’re determined to teach in Korea without speaking Korean, there are strategies you can use to make your experience easier. However, learning some basic Korean can greatly improve your experience and open up more job opportunities.

Can I teach English in Korea with just a TEFL?

In order to secure a teaching position for English in Korea, applicants must possess a TEFL certificate and a four-year college degree. They must also obtain an E-2 teaching visa, be a native English speaker, have a clean criminal record at the national level, and pass a health check and drug test. These requirements must be met by January 13, 2023.

Can a foreigner teach in South Korea?

In order to become a teacher in South Korea, certain criteria must be met, including possessing a bachelor’s degree in any subject (or a master’s degree for university-level teaching), certification in TEFL/TESOL/CELTA, and being a citizen of the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, or India (if holding a teaching license in English). These requirements are current as of January 12, 2023.

Is it hard to get a teaching job in Korea?

Whether or not you are able to secure the job depends on certain factors such as having a criminal record, possessing a college degree and being a native English speaker. If you meet these requirements, then the job is open for you to apply and try for. However, if you are not a native English speaker, it may be slightly more challenging, but not impossible.

How much does TEFL pay in Korea?

The salary for English teachers in South Korea varies depending on whether they work in public or private schools. Public school teachers, under the EPIK program, can earn between 1.5 to 3 million won ($1,850 – $2,650 USD) per month while private school teachers, known as Hagwons, earn between 1.9 to 2.4 million won ($1,600 – $2,000 USD) per month.

How many hours of TEFL do I need to teach in Korea?

To become an English teacher in South Korea, you must possess a bachelor’s degree and obtain a TEFL certification with a minimum of 120 hours of learning experience. Additionally, some employers may require you to be a native English speaker and have prior teaching experience, although certain qualifications may be prioritized over experience by some employers.

Are teachers in demand in Korea?

There is a high and increasing demand for English teachers in South Korea, specifically in Seoul. Schools across the country offer and cover the cost of accommodations and airfare, as well as providing a well-paying salary that allows teachers to save or use the money for travel.

Learning Korean While Teaching in Korea

If you’re interested in learning Korean while teaching in Korea, there are many resources available to you. Many schools offer Korean language classes to their foreign teachers, and there are also private language schools and tutors that you can work with. Additionally, immersing yourself in the language and culture can help you pick up the language more quickly.

Benefits of Learning Korean While Teaching in Korea

Learning Korean while teaching in Korea has many benefits. It can help you better connect with your students and co-workers, improve your job prospects, and allow you to fully immerse yourself in the local culture. Additionally, being bilingual is always a valuable skill to have.

Tips for Learning Korean While Teaching in Korea

If you’re interested in learning Korean while teaching in Korea, there are some tips you can follow to make the process easier. These include practicing speaking with locals, watching Korean TV shows and movies, and using language learning apps and resources.


Teaching in Korea without knowing Korean is possible, but it’s recommended that you learn at least some basic Korean to make your experience easier and more enjoyable. Whether you choose to learn the language or not, teaching in Korea is a unique opportunity to experience a new culture and make a difference in the lives of your students.

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