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Epik Personal Essay

Our Teach English in South Korea program has become increasingly competitive with each passing round of applications so it’s no wonder that the most frequently asked question is, “What can I do to increase my chances of being accepted into EPIK?”

EPIK (English Program in Korea) offers teachers a comfortable position in a Korean public school with a co-teacher, paid-for apartment, amazing monthly income, tons of vacation days and a chance to be immersed in a unique culture that tourists tend to skip over when deciding to travel to Asia. It’s also a program run by the Korean Ministry of Education who demands a certain dedication from its applicants due to its complicated and time-consuming application process.

As long as you meet the minimum teaching requirements, you have a chance of getting a position. However, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of being accepted into EPIK before you even interview for the job!

Apply Early

The application deadline for the spring 2016 start date will be November 15, but waiting to submit your application (with personal essay and lesson plan) and two letters of recommendation that late is the worst thing you can do.

Teachers are placed on a rolling basis so the first ones to interview are the first ones to get placed. Late applicants will either get placed anywhere there is a spot left (i.e. not your preference) or be put on the wait list.

Get started on your letters of recommendation now before the application is released so you can apply as far in advance as possible.

Background Check

The background check needs to be issued within 6 months of your arrival in Korea. You can’t start on it until September, but waiting to see if you get an interview with EPIK to apply for it could keep you from going to Korea at all.

Getting your background check requires that you:
– get fingerprinted
– send those prints to an FBI-approved channeler
– receive the background check
– send it off to get apostilled
– mail it to Greenheart Travel

This process can take anywhere from 3-8 weeks depending on the time of year. Participants in the past who have waited until after their interview with EPIK to start this process have not been able to go because their background checks didn’t come back in time.

Lesson Plan 

The third, and most important, thing you can do to increase your chances of being accepted into EPIK is to have a well-organized and well-thought out lesson plan which is part of the initial application. When EPIK recommends you to provinces and cities, the biggest deciding factor for them is your lesson plan since that will be your main responsibility as one of their employees.

They want to know that the English teacher they are hiring will be confident in front of the class and be able to make the lessons fun and engaging to really improve their student’s English language abilities. Ninety-five percent of applicants this past round were asked to make multiple changes to their lesson plans which slowed down their applications.

Starting on your TEFL course now will ensure you’re able to put together a comprehensive, fun and engaging lesson plan right off that bat which will allow you walk smoothly through the application process. We have online classes starting every other Monday,  so you find one that fits your schedule!  Look here if you are wondering which TEFL course will be the best fit for your EPIK application!

To be emailed instructions for what EPIK is looking for in lesson plans, please enter your information here.

The Spring 2016 application is now available! Read our blog about how to prepare for the Spring 2016 start date!

The next part of the application is completing 3 personal essays on page 6 of the application. The questions/prompts are the same as when I filled out my application a year ago, so I’ll do my best to give some tips on how to answer these. I will not, however, tell you exactly what I wrote down.

*Essays must be typed in size 11 Arial font and be between 250-300 words, single spaced.*

Essay 1: Why do you want to teach EFL in Korea?

Basically they want to find out why, out of all the places you could’ve chosen to teach English, you chose Korea. Now this is definitely not the place to say something like this: “Cause they have the best benefits and pay you a lot (etc)”. This is the place to mention things like wanting to learn about a new culture or showing what it is about Korea and/or Korean culture that appealed to you. In my answer, I mentioned how I was intrigued by Korea’s ancient history as compared to the younger US (Korea is thousands of years old and the US is only a few hundred years old). I also mentioned a few more things, but as I said before, I’m not repeating my full answer here. Anyways, just talk about why teaching in Korea is the best option for you and maybe what you could offer them (ie an insight into another culture, yours).

Essay 2: Please explain your teaching philosophy.

Now this is a tough one is you’ve never taught before. If you’ve already done your TEFL course, then that will help you here a bit. Basically it’s a question to show what kind of teacher you are. It’ll give them insight into your teaching style and how you may implement your teaching philosophy into a class. My answer included a teaching method, ESA (Engage, Study, and Activate), and I explained how I would teach that method in a class. If you have previous teaching experience or schooling specifically in teaching, then this section may be a bit easier for you.

Essay 3: Share your thoughts on encountering cultural differences.

Have you traveled abroad before? Have  you live abroad? Do you come from a multi-cultural family? Have you learned another language before? Do you have any experiences with multi-cultural friends, situations (work or personal), or family? Etc? Since you’ll be moving to a country that is pretty much the exact opposite of your own culture (and also where English is not a primary language), EPIK wants to get a sense of how adaptable and open-minded you will be towards a new culture. Do you have any experience adapting to another culture? Do you have any exposure to other cultures? Etc. In my answer I talked about my internship I did in Kenya and about the cultural differences I experienced during my time there, and how I adapted to some of them (ie talking with locals through hand gestures (etc) when they didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak the tribal language).

Well, that’s it! Hopefully that helped a bit with filling out these essays. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share below. The next part will be about the final part of the application, the lesson plan.