Teaching English abroad is a fantastic way to explore the world. You can experience an expat lifestyle with the security of a regular paycheck, a valid visa and assistance getting set up in a new country. Today’s interview is with Lindsay Nash, a former English teacher in Korea, who has started her own recruiting agency to help English teachers find jobs in Korea.
How long did you teach English in Korea?
My husband and I taught English for two years at a public/private elementary school in Gwangju, South Korea. Most contracts are one year, but we enjoyed it so much that we stayed for a second year. And we are currently planning on returning for a third year in March.
How did you find your first teaching jobs?
We found our jobs through a small recruiting agency that we came across in all of our “Googling” to find out more information about teaching in Korea. There are so many recruiters out there (now including myself!) so it was important to us to find one that we trusted and that could answer all of our questions.
How easy is it to find teaching jobs?
Very easy. Korea is a country that places a very strong value in education. Children go to school all day, every day. After regular school, they go to private language academies. And every school needs at least one native English speaker (many schools have more than one). So there are an abundance of jobs available!
Is it necessary to have teaching certificates or training to find employment?
No. While schools sometimes prefer a teacher with experience or a certificate, it is NOT required in Korea. Before coming to Korea, I was a newspaper reporter with zero teaching experience and zero certifications. And it worked out just fine for me.
How did you get your first work visa?
It’s important to find a good recruiting agency (try ours at www.saykimchirecruiting.com) that can walk you through the tedious E2 visa process. All teachers must obtain this visa to work in Korea legally. Your recruiting agency will help you through this process, which requires you sending a lot of documents (original university degree, transcripts, resume, etc.) to Korea.
Is it possible for teachers to arrive without a work visa and look for a job?
Yes, you can come to Korea as a tourist and look for work. But why do that when you can easily find a job beforehand that will pay your flight to and from Korea?! That’s one of the best benefits about teaching in Korea. All 1-year teaching jobs pay for roundtrip flights.
What is the cost of living in Korea?
The cost of living in Korea is relatively low, especially outside of Seoul. I lived in Gwangju and payed about $100 of expenses a month (gas, water, utilities, mobile phone). Eating out is cheap but some fruits and vegetables from the grocery store can be a little expensive.
How much money can the average teacher expect to save?
You can save between $500 and $1,000 a month on average.
Do you recommend Korea for other English teachers?
Yes! Korea is an amazing country with a storied past and colorful culture. It is a country that is often looked over due to its popular neighbors, China and Japan. But, in my opinion, that’s what makes Korea so interesting. It’s a country where postcards are rare. A country hinging between tradition and globalization. A country with amazing cuisine and friendly people. I absolutely recommend it.
What did you love and hate about Korea?
Loves: Food, culture, people, landscape (mountains!), the islands.
Hates: Hate is a strong word. I’d say there are cultural differences sometimes that makes you long for home–as any foreign country will. But nothing that I can’t live with. If I had to name one thing I wished I could change about the country it would be their driving. Look both ways before you cross a street!
What advice would you offer for others thinking of teaching English Abroad?
Do your research. Moving to the other side of the world is a big decision. Make sure you are adventurous and open-minded enough to do it. It’s not always easy. It’s not a vacation. It’s a job. So make sure you do your research, ask lots of questions, and, in the end, keep an open mind and HAVE FUN! It’s truly an adventure of a lifetime.
What are your plans now?
I have just started my own recruiting company, Say Kimchi Recruiting, and I am working on connecting native English speakers around the globe to teaching positions in Korea. When I’m not doing that, I’m usually doing some freelance writing or photography or traveling with my husband. We are hanging out in America this fall and winter to be with family. We are currently residing in the beautiful mountains of Asheville, N.C.