What Are the EPIK, GEPIK, SMOE, and TaLK Government Programs for Teaching English in South Korea?

Public School Programs for Teaching English in South Korea

By Ashley Houston

If South Korea is at the top of your list of destinations for teaching English abroad, you may have come across one of the acronyms above. If a private language school (hagwon) doesn’t interest you, one of the South Korean government public school programs represented by these acronyms may be a great fit! Here's a quick breakdown of what each abbreviation stands for and what each teaching program offers you as an English teacher in South Korea.


Government placement programs provide opportunities to work in public schools abroad. The programs tend to be application-based and place you in specific locations within South Korea. Teaching placements can include grade schools, high schools, and even sometimes community colleges. Participants in these programs typically assist a local teacher abroad, rather than teaching solo, though there are some exceptions. Check out some of the pros and cons to government assistantship programs.

As one of the most popular locations to teach English abroad, South Korea has several government programs for varying backgrounds and interests.

Difference Between the EPIK, GEPIK, SMOE, and TaLK Government Teaching Programs in South Korea

EPIK

Standing for “English Program in Korea”, the EPIK program is South Korea’s most well-known government program. Sponsored by the Ministry of Education, if accepted, English teachers are placed in elementary and middle schools across South Korea. Benefits of this program include furnished housing, roundtrip airfare, medical insurance, 18 paid vacation days per year, and a paid 9-day orientation.

Key requirements:

  • 3-4 Year BA/BS Degree
  • TEFL certification (note: If you have a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in Education, a TEFL course is not officially required).
  • Native English speaker with citizenship from one of the Big 7 English-speaking countries
  • Be in good physical/mental health
  • Must be under the age of 62
  • Clean background check (nothing at all showing up)
  • 1 year commitment required
  • To learn more, read What are the Requirements to teach English in the EPIK Program in South Korea?

There is a more structured format and timeline for applying to the EPIK program, so make sure to be planning in advance--we recommend at least 6 to 8 months before you want to be abroad. Applications must be submitted between February and July for the September start program start and between August and January to start the program in March.

For a more in-depth program breakdown of eligibility, benefits, and the application process check out this great article or watch our recent Facebook Live feature on the program!

What’s it really like on the ground? Read alumna Kim Jackson’s experience teaching in Daejeon, South via the EPIK program.

 

GEPIK

Standing for the “Gyeonggi English Program in Korea”, GEPIK places English teachers in the Gyeonggi province exclusively (the area surrounding Seoul). GEPIK is sponsored through the Gyeonggi Provincial Office of Education, and if accepted, English teachers work at one school and are the only native English speaker at that school. 

Benefits of this program include roundtrip airfare, furnished housing, medical insurance, and 20 days of paid vacation a year.

Key requirements:

  • 3-4 Year BA/BS Degree
  • TEFL Certification (note: If you have a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in Education, English, or Linguistics, a TEFL course is not officially required).
  • Native English speaker with citizenship from one of the Big 7 English-speaking countries
  • Clean background check (nothing at all showing up)
  • Be in good physical/mental health
  • Must be under the age of 62
  • 1 year commitment required

Like EPIK, this program is fairly structured in terms of the application process. Applications must be submitted well in advance.

*Special note: GEPIK is less likely to hire couples compared to EPIK*

Difference Between the EPIK, GEPIK, SMOE, and TaLK Government Teaching Programs in South Korea

SMOE

Standing for the “Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education”, SMOE is sponsored by the city government of Seoul and places teachers into school districts around Seoul, South Korea’s capital city.

Benefits of this program include an urban lifestyle, choosing your school level preference, furnished housing, roundtrip airfare, medical insurance, 21 days vacation, and a paid 9-day orientation.

Key requirements:

  • 3-4 Year BA/BS Degree
  • TEFL Certification (note: If you have a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in Education, or have 1 year of TaLK experience, a TEFL course is not officially required).
  • Native English speaker with citizenship from one of the Big 7 English-speaking countries
  • Clean background check (nothing at all showing up)
  • Be in good physical/mental health
  • Must be under the age of 62
  • 1 year commitment required

Fun Fact: SMOE uses EPIK as a primary recruiting source to find English teachers. You can apply directly to SMOE or via EPIK, as they are two different programs at their core. If accepted, you’re a SMOE teacher and are no longer affiliated with EPIK.

Public School Programs for Teaching English in Korea

TaLK

Standing for “Teach and Learn in Korea”, the TaLK program is an educational scholarship program sponsored by the Ministry of Education and the National Institute for International Education in South Korea. TaLK places teachers at elementary schools primarily in rural areas of South Korea. It is also one of the few options for teaching English in South Korea without holding a full BA/BS degree.

Benefits of this program include furnished housing, roundtrip airfare, and medical insurance.

Key requirements:

  • Associate’s Degree or enrolled in a BA/BS degree (3rd year or higher)
  • TEFL Certification is preferred (note: If you have a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in Education, or have 1 year of TaLK experience, a TEFL course is not officially required).
  • Native English speaker with citizenship from one of the Big 7 English-speaking countries
  • 6-month commitment

Still confused about all of these options? No worries! Call us at 773-634-9900 to speak to an expert advisor about your options for teaching English in South Korea. Enrolled ITA students should consult the Job Search Guidance Manual to learn more and get in touch with the Student Affairs Department to receive additional assistance. We even have preferred recruiters we recommend using to give you support and an extra leg up in the application process!

Programs for Teaching English in South Korea

Want to learn more about teaching English in South Korea and around the world?

Request a free brochure or call 773-634-9900 to speak with an expert advisor about all aspects of teaching English around the world, including TEFL certification, the hiring process, salaries, visas and more.

More Resources:

 

meet advisor ashleyAbout the Author: Ashley Houston

A true industry pro, Ashley brings years of expertise to the ITA team. She studied abroad six, I repeat, six times, and has traveled to more than 40 countries. All of her diverse experiences brought her to International TEFL Academy, where she is proud to help others work toward the wonderful adventure of teaching English abroad! 

 

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