eslinsider5 logo


korean kindergartener

Cute kid eh? If you end up teaching in a kindergarten in Korea you might end up teaching a kid like him. Are you wondering what's the best TEFL course for Korea?

Or if an online TEFL course will be accepted in Korea?

Are you getting overwhelmed with all of the information?

I understand as I was there once too.

I spent about 3.5 years teaching in Korea. I taught in both public schools and in hagwons (private language schools). I also taught in China and Taiwan.

Anyways, before we get into the TEFL course discussion...

Do I need TEFL to teach in Korea? 

No, not necessarily, but it will depend on the job.

So for starters the requirements to teach in Korea are that you need a degree, some paperwork, and to be a native English speaker. Those are the basic requirements to teach in Korea to get an E-2 visa to legally teach English.

So what about a TEFL course?

It depends on where you want to teach. Each school (hagwon or public school) is a little different and may or may not require TEFL certification. 

Should I take an online or an onsite course?

To teach in a public school with the EPIK program you might want to take a TEFL course with 20 in-class hours if you don't have experience, a master's or a related degree AND want to teach in Busan

But otherwise online TEFL is fine. Many have gotten into EPIK with just an online TEFL.

But that's for EPIK.

For other jobs in Korea it's up to you. What are the other jobs? They're mostly in hagwons. 

What's the best TEFL course for Korea?

This one is the best online TEFL for teaching in South Korea and I am going to explain why that is.

And yes, I am biased^^, but so isn't anyone else writing an article titled "best online TEFL course". The truth is everyone is biased and anyone writing an article like that is most likely chasing an affiliate commision or selling a course themselves.

I built ESLinsider and all of it's videos IN KOREA.

In both Korean hagwons and public schools which will be similar to the ones that you work in.

I doubt that you will find more targeted training online.

These are short simple videos that show you what to do all integrated into an interactive streamlined course.

And you need that instruction because you have no clue what to do.

The problem is that many online courses are low quality and theory orientated because that's the "education" system. There's no visual and that means you won't learn.

Monkey see, monkey do.

And you need to learn if you want to have a good time or at least a better one in Korea because most of your time is going to be spent in a classroom not on a beach or out traveling around.

I've taken 2 TEFL/TESOL courses that were fancy dancy sounding accredited and "internationally recognized" courses, but they were not helpful.

I think you have two factors to consider.

  1. Getting the job (short term benefit)
  2. Learning how to do your job (long term benefit)

Or long term pain if you don't.

If all you care about is getting a job then well probably any TEFL course online or onsite will do for 98% of the jobs out there that don't require experience.

As mentioned before that if you want to teach in Busan or if you are a traditional learner then you can take an in-class course. But just know that the training you get in that in-class course is not that authentic (not in my experience), because it's not going to be with real students or like the students that you will be teaching in Korea.

Doing your job well is another matter.

But maybe you don't care now since you just want a job.

But if you want to do your job well then you should pick a course that is probably focused on teaching kids (young learners) in Korea. Because chances are kids are the ones who you are going to teach.

But if you are going to teach 'adults' then most people won't argue that CELTA is best.

If you want results...

...and you are planning on teaching mostly kids then take this online course.

Taking an in-class course can be good, but it really depends on the course as I took a combined in-class course and thought it was a waste of money. I spent a $1000 and pretty much felt clueless, helpless and up the creek without a paddle when I started teaching.

Online courses are a cheaper TEFL qualification option. Instead of spending a $1000 or more for an in-class course you could spend $100-500 and maybe fair just as well.



Again it depends on the course. Some people think online courses suck. And some do These are often people who took a CELTA, some other in-class course or they might be a TEFL course provider of classroom based courses.

They complain that there is no in-class component of observation and feedback so how can someone learn how to teach?

Well, in my experience...

The best way to learn how to teach is by watching other teachers. You can do that online with videos or by sitting in the back of a classroom.

Information is information and you can obtain it in a variety of ways. You can even learn from reading books, watching videos, taking a course or by watching other teachers. That's how I learned.


Will your online TEFL be accepted?

They say some employers don't accept them. But the truth is that the majority of employers that don't accept online courses also don't accept teachers without qualifications like experience, related degrees, master's degrees or possibly those without a teaching license.

Those are higher end schools and universities who are typically looking for seasoned or career orientated ESL teachers. They don't usually hire first time teachers with or without an in-class TEFL.

So what are these results?

Take this course if you want to:

  • Have more fun teaching
  • Feel more confident
  • Increase student attention (no more yawning students)
  • Feel in control of your classroom
  • Improve your resume
  • Avoid horror stories
  • Have a better year abroad

You'll find several courses there, but the one I am recommending is the advanced course (formerly 120 hour) course. This course is the most thorough.

See EXACTLY what it is like and learn how to teach English in Korea


You'll do that with videos that were filmed in both public schools and hagwons in Korea. These videos will take you right into the classroom and teach you what you need to know.

They will:

  • Make learning faster
  • Make learning easier
  • Make learning more fun

Yes, I want these results teaching in Korea

I want to learn more about this course.

The difference between the in-class course that I took and this online course

I mentioned before that I thought that the in-class course that I took was a waste of money. I thought that because I didn't learn much that I could actually use in the classroom.

I learned a few not so useful activities, some theory, met some people and got a bunch of books packed with English grammar.

It lacked practical applications.

Over the years I learned what actually works.

The course contains many videos that were filmed in Korea.

They were filmed in both hagwons and in public schools. That context will help prepare you. You'll get an idea of what it's really like to teach in Korea.

Even if you take an "in-class" course it's usually a pseudo class that does not resemble the classes that you will actually teach.

In an in-class course your students are like you (other people taking the course) and English is their first language. I am not saying it's not helpful, but I don't think it's all it's cracked up to be.

korean elementary kids

Most jobs in Korea are for teaching children aged 6 to 14 or so.

"Teaching young learners under the age of 10 is a much different experience than older: make sure your program has a young learners focus, or at least doesn't pigeon hole you into a certain way of teaching." - Comments on Reddit

"Young learners" is a rather pretentious sounding word for kids. Made up by some academics and used by some TEFL course providers.

The truth is in Korea schools don't call them "young learners" they call them "children" or "kids" or maybe "teens". 

"Do you like teaching kids?"

That's likely what your employer will ask.

And unless you're really adament about teaching adults then kids is going to be who you will teach.


If you are planning on teaching in Busan with EPIK then you might want to take an in-class course, but otherwise you can take an online course. However, if you want to actually learn and be better prepared then I wouldn't take the cheapest or just any one.

Any certificate may help you get a job, but it's just the beginning of a year long experience in Korea. Teaching is not easy and now is your opportunity to prepare and learn which will pay off later. Otherwise before you know it you'll be looking for another job since teaching in Korea wasn't all that fun.


"I am an experienced teacher, having taught Science and Gifted Education in the US for ten years prior to coming to Taiwan. Although teacher prep programs will help, many aspects of teaching EFL are unique. I wish I would have taken this course BEFORE I started teaching here three years ago.

The methods and insights given in ESL Insider's 120 hour TEFL course could have saved me a lot of grief and disappointment. Now I am optimistic about starting a new school year armed with better lessons and a realigned perspective. Thank you, ESL Insider!"


If you actually want to enjoy teaching in Korea here's how to do it

Instead of a pounding head and noisy kids and thinking to yourself they didn't teach me how to deal with this in that course - Imagine feeling excited as you walk to work, confident in the classroom, and your students grinning from ear to ear.