A Day in the Life of An English Teacher in South Korea

“What’s it like teaching English in South Korea?”

I get this question all the time, right after, “Why’d you decide to come to Korea?” For some reason, people seem to think that being an ESL teacher in South Korea is a glamorous position. The truth is, after a while, things are pretty regular. Once the students get used to you, your days go by just as they would anywhere else.

Being an English teacher with EPIK is a lot less stressful than my previous teaching position. Although I have a 40 hour work week, only 22 of those are actually spent teaching. (Well, even less than that, since each class is only 40 minutes). That leaves me with a bunch of desk-warming time, which can be used for planning, prepping, or Instagram-stalking.

Here’s my schedule:

I teach 19 regular classes and 3 after-school classes each week.  Since I am the only native English Teacher at my school, I teach 3rd-6th grade, but I only see each class once a week. My busiest days are Tuesdays and Fridays, where I have 5 classes, but the other days are pretty easy.

* If you’re an English teacher with EPIK, you only have 22 teaching hours per week. If your school schedules you for more than 22 hours, you will receive overtime pay.

This is a typical day at my school:

8:40 am: Arrive at school. Go to my office and check for messages on my computer. Personal email systems like Gmail are  blocked on school computers so teachers send messages to each other on the CoolMessenger system. This is always the first thing I do, because I might have messages letting me know that classes are cancelled.

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My office: the messy desk is obviously mine LOL

This is where I spend the majority of my time, in my office that I currently share with the Sports Teacher. Equipped with a couch, a refrigerator, sink, and a heater right above my head, this is where you’ll find me when I’m not teaching classes or eating lunch.

9:00 am – 9:40 am: 1st period I teach classes in 3 different English rooms. My English co-teachers have to teach Music in those rooms as well, so it’s just easier for me to have my own office.

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One of the English classrooms. They all pretty much look the same.

9:50 am – 10:30 am: 2nd period

*There’s a 10 minute break between each class.

10:40 am – 11: 20 am: 3rd period

11:30 am – 12: 10 am: 4th period

12:10pm – 1:00pm Lunchtime. This is usually when most teachers eat lunch because this is also when the students eat lunch. It’s just easier this way.

1:00 pm – 1:40 pm: 5th period (I only have these classes on Mondays and Tuesdays. Otherwise, I’m desk-warming).

1:50 pm – 2:30 pm: Usually, this is more desk-warming time, unless it’s a Thursday. On Thursdays, I teach a 6th grade English Club during this time.

2:40 pm – 3:20 pm: On Tuesdays and Fridays, I teach after-school classes at this time. Otherwise, more desk-warming.

The rest of the day, until 4:40pm when I leave, is spent desk-warming.

Pretty chill schedule, right? This is pretty much the same schedule that I had last year, with the exception of a few classes, but it could change a little when the new school year begins in March. It’s important to note that a person’s schedule really depends on their school. Some EPIK teachers see some of their classes more than once a week and have overtime. It all depends on what your school wants.

Keep the questions coming! What other questions do you have about working as an English teacher in Korea?

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21 thoughts on “A Day in the Life of An English Teacher in South Korea

  1. Annna says:

    Awesome post! I was planning to teach in Korea as well after my post-secondary and this gave me a good idea of what day to day basis is like! Just wondering, did you have any prior experience in teaching or similar experiences (ie. tutoring, camp leaders,etc.)?

    Like

  2. Elvira says:

    So cool to have a peek into the life of a teacher elsewhere in the world. I recently started snail mailing with a French teacher in South Korea and I think it’s so interesting!

    Like

  3. hellocharmaine says:

    Yaay thank you for sharing fellow SK teacher! I’ve been asked the question “Why South Korea?” so many times I can’t even count… but I’m so glad I made the decision to move here and as my time is winding down I’m really seeing how much of an unforgettable experience this is, plus who doesn’t love desk warming lol!

    Like

    • Mimi_90 says:

      That’s so true!! Even though there were some ups and downs, I would do it again in a heartbeat. And it’s crazy, I was so used to being busy all the time that, at first, deskwarming drove me crazy. But I got it together LOL. Are you done in February??

      Like

  4. melissajane14 says:

    It’s great to hear that you’re comfortable with your teaching job in South Korea. I’ve heard some really negative things about teaching children’s ESL classes there (I taught in Taiwan for a year). How are your class sizes? The students’ attitudes? ….just in case I get inspired to teach English again.
    P.S. – I’m soooo jealous. I love Korean food!
    Best regards!

    Like

    • Mimi_90 says:

      Yeah, I’ve heard some horror stories as well, but it all depends on your school. I work with the English Program in Korea (EPIK) so I’m working in the public schools, and everyone’s experiences vary. There are about 25 students in every class, and my students are pretty well-behaved. Sometimes, they don’t want to work in English class but they have to because I’m the boss!! LOL just kidding, but I try to make things interesting and exciting for them

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Meya says:

    Reading this gave me flashbacks. I know this all too well. I taught at 3 schools in the Jangsu county. My students were naughty, but it was never a doll moment. Another great post. I wish I FOUND YOUR PAGE EARLIER.

    Like

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