Korean Government‘s TaLK Program gaining popularity

July 21, 2017

Offers teaching job in Korea for english speaking country natives

by Elan Zohar, Brentwood School senior(Korea Times Student Intern Reporter)

In April 2008, the South Korean government set out on a mission. Although English class was mandatory in Korean schools, only ten percent of the Korean population spoke English fluently, and many Korean students were even taught to apologize before speaking the often intimidating western language (thediplomat.com).

Insert the Teach and Learn in Korea Program. More commonly referred to as TaLK, the project is an opportunity offered by the South Korean government to residents of English-speaking countries to teach in South Korea. While the program is still relatively new, there is no doubt that it has potential to cast a ripple effect through the Korean education system for years to come.

The TaLK Program is evidence of a Korean effort to integrate English into everyday life. Citizens from any of six English-speaking nations are eligible for the, as it advertises on its website, “TaLK experience,” offered as a two-for-one package in which the incoming teacher gains both professional experience in the teaching setting as well as a chance to explore Korean culture and experience Korean life. Teachers are given benefits such as a monthly stipend, housing accommodations, and various allowances in return for instructing after-school conversational English classes in rural public schools across South Korea for one full school year.

The stress on improving education in rural areas is possibly a sign of another piece of the Korean educational agenda.

“The program is designed to support public English education in the rural areas of Korea, where the access to higher quality educational resources are limited,” the official TaLK website states.

As suggested in the quote, rural areas usually do not have the same resources as bustling economic centers such as Seoul or Busan. As a result, there is usually a knowledge or economic gap between city-dwellers and country folk. This effort to catalyze English learning in less densely populated regions has the potential to broaden international relations and create less socioeconomic inequality between those of different geographical regions.

While this program obviously has a positive impact on the Korean side, many may wonder what would drive English speakers to move to the Korean countryside for a job that they could get in their home country or even home town. However, advocates the program, a key takeaway that a teacher would not be able to get from teaching in a familiar setting is the chance to explore a different place, both geographically and culturally. Two main emphasis points that the TaLK Program pushes is exploration and immersion.

“The life of the people is their culture,” a TaLK pamphlet explains. “From traditional experiences like making fresh Kimchi to contemporary ones like shopping in Myeongdong, TaLK offers the opportunity to experience it all.”

Price and accommodations could play a vital role as well. There is no doubt that travelling costs a significant amount, especially travelling overseas. English teachers who want to explore the world but have trouble with funds are given a new chance to achieve their goals. Teachers are paid 1.5 million won, or about $1,305 per month and are given free housing, training, health insurance, and entrance and exit allowances.

The process to become a full-time English teacher in Korea is no piece of cake. A screening process and online application with an essay is required, as well as two years of academic completion from an accredited post-secondary institution. Citizenship from the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa is necessary. Lastly, those chosen must obtain an E2-2 or F4 Visa before flying to orientation in Korea.

If this experience seems intriguing, visit talk.go.kr or visit a local South Korean consulate or embassy to begin the application process and embark on an educational journey to the land of the morning calm.

Elan Zohar, Brentwood School senior(Korea Times Student Intern Reporter)

Elan Zohar, Brentwood School senior(Korea Times Student Intern Reporter)

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