South Korea is a popular travel destination for ESL teachers. It is a country that can satisfy all types of travelers. Korea has all of these: nature, big cities, historical villages, art, music, and more. Whatever your travel preference is, this country will have what you want. So, how do you teach abroad in Korea? One way is to be part of the SMOE program.
SMOE Program Overview
SMOE (Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education) is a public school English teaching program sponsored by the Seoul city government. The program hires ESL teachers and places them at schools in the districts of Seoul city. In most cases, teachers are placed in public elementary schools. It is one of the most popular and competitive teaching programs as it offers fascinating urban international city life.
Also known as EPIK-Seoul, SMOE now recruits teachers through EPIK. SMOE uses EPIK to screen candidates and hire teachers for their job openings. Because teachers must apply through EPIK, they will first be EPIK Seoul applicants. However, because EPIK and SMOE are two separate programs, once hired by SMOE, teachers are no longer EPIK applicants.
In addition, the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education also hires English teachers from time to time on their own without the help of EPIK. This happens through domestic job postings targeting ESL teachers who are already residing in South Korea.
Based in Seoul, one of the most popular international cities, EPIK-Seoul is a highly competitive ESL teaching abroad program. Therefore, there are strict requirements, and it is crucial to check if you are qualified.
Used the following list as a checklist to see if you meet all of the minimum requirements of SMOE Korea.
- Native English speaker
- Bachelor’s Degree or above
- Criminal background check
- Qualify for E2 Visa
- Mental and physical health
- Age: under 62
Also, you have to meet one of the following teaching qualifications:
- 100+ hours of TEFL/TESOL certificate
- Bachelor’s or Master’s degree majoring in Teaching, Education, or TESOL
- Home country teaching license
- TaLK scholar experience (one year)
How to Complete SMOE Application
SMOE hires teachers through EPIK, so teachers interested in the program must apply through the EPIK website. Once you apply through the website, you will be an EPIK-Seoul applicant. However, if you fail to get into the EPIK-Seoul position, EPIK will still consider you for their teaching positions. This means you will be able to teach in Korea as an EPIK teacher, just not in Seoul.
In addition to an identification photo (passport size) and two recommendation letters, applicants must prepare the following documents for the SMOE application.
EPIK Online Application Form
The two EPIK documents should be completed in Microsoft Word format.
1. Sample Lesson Plan: Applicants must make their own sample lesson plan, including learning objectives, activities, and class materials.
2. Personal Essay: Applicants have to write a 500-800 word long essay including their original answer to three topics (reasons for wanting to teach ESL in Korea, teaching philosophy, thoughts on cultural differences).
In order to inform EPIK that you are specifically applying for SMOE, you have to complete the digital application form and indicate the expected EPIK-Seoul salary.
Check the official website for specific details.
EPIK-Seoul Salary and Benefits
Teachers of the EPIK-Seoul program will make between $1,800 and $2,650 (USD) per month. This is enough to cover the basic costs of living in Seoul. Also, every year you teach with the program, your pay will rise. However, the exact salary depends on several factors, including each candidate’s teaching experience.
Even if you are on the lower side of the pay scale, a lot of the benefits will cover your necessities. Fortunately, SMOE provides benefits such as settlement allowance, accommodation (if the school can’t provide housing, you will receive a stipend instead), round flight allowance, paid vacation days, medical insurance, orientation, and training.
Difference Between SMOE and EPIK
EPIK is an English teaching program throughout Korea to foster cultural exchanges and help students and teachers improve their English speaking abilities. The program is affiliated with the Korean Ministry of Education and is operated by the National Institute of International Education.
SMOE (or EPIK-Seoul) is an English program that focuses on schools in Seoul, the capital city of South Korea. It is a separate program but receives applicants through the EPIK system. Applicants must apply to EPIK and indicate that they are applying for schools in Seoul. Most of the teachers will be placed in elementary schools.
FAQs About Teaching ESL in Korea with SMOE
Here is a quick guide to some commonly asked questions about EPIK-Seoul.
What is SMOE in Korea?
SMOE Korea or EPIK-Korea is an English teaching program in the city of Seoul. Applicants are screened and hired through EPIK and will be placed in schools around Seoul (excluding Gangnam). It is a highly competitive program due to the increasing popularity of Seoul, the international mega-city.
How do I apply for SMOE Korea?
Teachers who desire to be part of the SMOE program must apply through the EPIK official website. So, make sure to check the requirements and indicate that you are applying specifically for the EPIK-Seoul program.
Can you apply to SMOE and EPIK?
In order to apply for SMOE, you have to do it through EPIK. That being the case, even if you do not get accepted for the SMOE program, you will still be considered for an EPIK position. However, if you get into the general EPIK program, you will have to work in a city other than Seoul.
Should I Teach ESL in South Korea with SMOE?
Teaching English in Korea with the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (SMOE) can be a rewarding experience. Here are some factors to consider:
- Job Opportunities: SMOE offers teaching positions in public schools within the Seoul metropolitan area, providing stability and a structured work environment.
- Support and Resources: SMOE provides support and resources to its English teachers, including training, curriculum guidelines, and materials. This can be beneficial, especially for those new to teaching or unfamiliar with the Korean education system.
- Cultural Experience: Teaching in Korea allows you to immerse yourself in Korean culture, traditions, and language. It offers opportunities to explore historical landmarks, try local cuisine, and engage with the local community.
- Competitive Compensation: SMOE provides a competitive salary and benefits package, which typically includes housing allowances, health insurance, and paid vacation. This can provide a comfortable standard of living in Korea.
- Work-Life Balance: Teaching in Korea with SMOE typically involves a structured schedule with regular working hours. This allows for a good work-life balance, giving you free time to explore and enjoy your surroundings.
- Language and Cultural Challenges: Korean is the primary language spoken in Korea, and there may be language and cultural barriers to overcome. Embracing the local language and culture can enhance your experience and facilitate better communication with students and colleagues.
- Visa Requirements: Check the visa requirements for teaching in Korea with SMOE. You will typically need an E-2 visa, which requires meeting specific qualifications and documentation.
- Future Opportunities: Teaching in Korea with SMOE can open doors to further opportunities in education, both in Korea and internationally. It can enhance your teaching experience and broaden your professional network.
Teaching in Korea with SMOE: Join the Conversation
What are your thoughts on teaching English in Korea with SMOE? If you are looking for another teaching program in South Korea, check out the TaLK Program. Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.