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Teaching in a Hagwon in South Korea

Teaching English at a Hagwon in South Korea

Teach English in South Korea >> Teach English at a Hagwon

90% of TEFL jobs in South Korea are in EPIK public schools and private Hagwons. While there are many similarities, there are also many differences to consider before applying to teach English in South Korea.

Compare EPIK with Hagwons

The EPIK program is affiliated with the Korean Ministry of Education and is operated by the National Institute for International Education (NIIED) responsible for hiring 700+ native English teachers annually to teach ESL in public schools.

Hagwons are for-profit ESL institutes that offer a variety of ESL classes for children and adults throughout South Korea, including General English, after school ESL, IELTS or TOEFL preparation, and Business English programs.

Both EPIK and hagwons offer high-paying entry-level TEFL positions that allow teachers to travel in South Korea and save money. Both EPIK and hagwons have similar set of requirements for entry-level teachers. All you need is a BA degree in any area and an accredited TESOL or TEFL certification of at least 120 hours!

EPIK is only for K-12 teaching positions. Hagwons offer more variety for ESL teachers who prefer teaching English to adults. EPIK is more competitive in cities such as Seoul and Busan, where most teachers want to go. Hagwons offer more opportunity for entry-level teachers looking to teach English in the biggest cities in South Korea.

The Best Hagwons to Teach in South Korea:

Hagwons come in all forms and sizes. Apply to teach with a large established corporate hagwons or family-owned hagwon. The key to choosing the best hagwon for you is to learn about the facilities, textbooks, technology, and other expat ESL teachers. Look for their teachers on LinkedIn or other social media apps. Ask them about the employer, the kind of support they provide to new ESL teachers, if they pay on time, and anything you want to learn about teaching with the hagwon. Here is a list of the most popular hagwons in South Korea:

1. Chungdahm Learning:

This hagwon has more than 100 locations across South Korea. Apart from being able to pick a job anywhere you want in the country, this hagwon pays very well. The average salary is 2.65 million won/month plus round-trip airfare and end-of-contract bonus. The downside is that rent is not included, so the extra money you are making goes to paying for your apartment.  If you are a new teacher looking to teach abroad in a metropolitan city, this place is a great start.

3.3-star Review on Glassdoor.ca (Based on 472 reviews)

2. YBM Education

Established in 1961, YBM Education is the first hagwon that opened in South Korea. They run a wide range of TESOL services, including language schools, testing centers, study abroad programs, and publishing. The best reason to teach at this hagwon is the many career advancement opportunities you can pursue in different sectors of the TESOL industry. The wage they offer is very similar to EPIK and accommodation is included in the package.

3.1 star Review on Glassdoor.ca (Based on 85 reviews)

3. Avalon Education

This hagwon offers after-school programs for elementary and middle-school children. The benefit of teaching English with Avalon is that native-English speakers are hired to teach communication skills (Reading, writing, listening, and speaking), which lessons take less time to prepare and are generally more fun than a grammar or vocabulary lesson.

3.0 star Review on Glassdoor.ca (Based on 121 reviews)

What’s The Best TEFL Certification for Hagwons?

The 168-hour Hybrid TEFL Certificate course offered by OnTESOL will prepare you to teach adults and young learners in South Korea and beyond. This TEFL certification is fully accredited for teaching jobs abroad and it is also valid for teaching jobs in Canada and the United States. This means that all you need to succeed as an ESL teacher is one TEFL certificate. You will not need to take another TEFL course if you want to continue teaching when you return home or if you want to continue teaching abroad in other countries. 

Accredited by TESL Canada and TESL Ontario

5 Reasons to Teach English in South Korea with a Hagwon


Great Salary for Entry-level ESL Teachers!

Hagwons offer one of the highest paid opportunities for those planning to teach abroad for the first time in their lives. The pay range for entry-level and experienced ESL teachers is similar to EPIK. The starting salary for a Native English teacher with a BA degree, a 120-hour TEFL or TESOL certificate, and no previous teaching experience is approximately US$2,000/month plus paid rent-free apartment, vacation pay and airfare reimbursement. Candidates who have previous ESL teaching experience can expect to earn up to US$2,500 teaching General English and after-school classes with hagwons.


Career Advancement Opportunities

Hagwons offer great career advancement opportunities for IELTS or TOEFL preparation teachers and Business English teachers who earn an average of US$3,500 per month plus benefits.  

A minimum of 1 year of ESL teaching experience with adults students is preferred. For this reason, teachers with previous experience at hagwons have a greater advantage than K-12 EPIK teachers. Due to competition from teachers already located in South Korea, these high-paying hagwon jobs are easier to find in person rather than applying from overseas.


Flexible Scheduling and Evening Classes

Let’s face it, most people teach abroad to skip the 9 to 5 rat race. Teaching at a hagwon offers teachers going abroad the added benefit of having the day all to themselves! Stay in bed longer, take a class, or tour around the city before you step into your job. Hagwons operate in the evening so they provide teachers with the added benefit of having more time for themselves as well as more opportunities to go out at night with other teachers and friends. 


A Larger Expat Community

As private institutes that compete for students, hagwons have more pressure to hire TEFL certified Native English Speakers. For this reason, you will likely find a larger expat community consisting of both new and experienced ESL teachers working with hagwons. If this is your first time teaching abroad and you want to join a community of other people experiencing the same situation, then teaching with a hagwon is highly recommended.


Much Easier to Get Started

Competition in the private sector has driven hagwons to offer their services in state-of-the art facilities and adopt new technology. This includes classrooms with smart boards and tablets to support the delivery of the class. Furthermore, most hagwons have their own curriculum, lesson plans, and materials already downloaded in the tablet for their teachers to deliver. If this is your first time teaching English, everything will be ready for you the first day you step into the classroom.