February 17, 2019, 01:17:47 AM


Author Topic: IS EPIK STILL WORTH IT-OR IS IT A CRAZY WASTE OF TIME?  (Read 4663 times)

Offline oglop

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Re: IS EPIK STILL WORTH IT-OR IS IT A CRAZY WASTE OF TIME?
« Reply #40 on: January 27, 2019, 10:49:59 AM »
does anyone know WHY they are rotated every 4 years?

it seems stupid and pointless. if i was a korean teacher and knew i'd be changing schools soon, i wouldn't put in half the effort i would usually, because what's the point?

Offline PatrickBateman

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Re: IS EPIK STILL WORTH IT-OR IS IT A CRAZY WASTE OF TIME?
« Reply #41 on: January 27, 2019, 10:58:08 AM »
To mitigate corruption and bullying.  Cornerstones of Korean society.

Online Mr C

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Re: IS EPIK STILL WORTH IT-OR IS IT A CRAZY WASTE OF TIME?
« Reply #42 on: January 27, 2019, 01:39:58 PM »
does anyone know WHY they are rotated every 4 years?

it seems stupid and pointless. if i was a korean teacher and knew i'd be changing schools soon, i wouldn't put in half the effort i would usually, because what's the point?
Funny you say that, because I think that's what it is: points.  Your advancement points carry over from school to school, of course, so you want to keep in your principal's good graces.

Offline fishead

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Re: IS EPIK STILL WORTH IT-OR IS IT A CRAZY WASTE OF TIME?
« Reply #43 on: January 28, 2019, 09:27:52 AM »
 It's worth it but don't get too attached to the program for emotional stability. I have seen foreigners completely devasted about either being rejected or not being renewed.  There are other ways to make your stay in Korea meaningful without having to get wrapped up in EPIK.

EPIK is really geared towards young people living in their parents basement who have unlimited time to prepare a perfect application without ever stepping in a Korean public school classroom.

Offline Allpointseast

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Re: IS EPIK STILL WORTH IT-OR IS IT A CRAZY WASTE OF TIME?
« Reply #44 on: January 28, 2019, 11:09:59 PM »
 ;D Ha ha ha. Yes, Mr. Fishead, I do sometimes think that EPIK is geared to young people who've never set foot in a classroom.  You are right that we shouldn't get too attached to the EPIK program. The thing is the application process is detailed so you can get sucked in. In the old days, I remember guys in their 30s and 40s who had chosen EPIK for a career break, and were really enjoying the job and were appreciated of by their coteachers.
   I taught in a hagwon back then, returned to Korea much more recently and taught successfully in a hagwon. EPIK rejected me so fast I doubted they checked my references.

Offline hamid62

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Re: IS EPIK STILL WORTH IT-OR IS IT A CRAZY WASTE OF TIME?
« Reply #45 on: January 28, 2019, 11:37:05 PM »
  Recently I read about a guy who had been selected by EPIK under the current criteria. He passed. But when he went to school the coteachers kept comparing him negatively to the charismatic NET who had just left. He had been a total rock star[think of Nick Jonas with muscles]. The new teacher was held up to impossible standards yet kept in the dark about most stuff. So he left after 4 months. EPIK may think its selection criteria are going to prevent problems such as this. But not if the problemm isn't the foreign teacher.
For a moment I thought you were talking about me until I read that the guy left after four months. I stayed the whole contract, though.

Online denimdaze

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Re: IS EPIK STILL WORTH IT-OR IS IT A CRAZY WASTE OF TIME?
« Reply #46 on: January 29, 2019, 06:09:48 AM »
  Recently I read about a guy who had been selected by EPIK under the current criteria. He passed. But when he went to school the coteachers kept comparing him negatively to the charismatic NET who had just left. He had been a total rock star[think of Nick Jonas with muscles]. The new teacher was held up to impossible standards yet kept in the dark about most stuff. So he left after 4 months. EPIK may think its selection criteria are going to prevent problems such as this. But not if the problemm isn't the foreign teacher.
For a moment I thought you were talking about me until I read that the guy left after four months. I stayed the whole contract, though.
Was the charismatic NET who had just left named Camden?

Offline Jayson1979

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Re: IS EPIK STILL WORTH IT-OR IS IT A CRAZY WASTE OF TIME?
« Reply #47 on: January 29, 2019, 07:52:11 AM »
While I do agree there are some elements of discrimination in the EPIK based on age and, letís face it, other factors.  I do not think it is as clearly black and white as some here are painting it. 

I am an example that EPIK does not just hire newbies right out of university.  I am 39 years old, and have been living and working in Korea for over 5 years now.  I was teaching at a government ran training institute for Korean English Teachers (not EPIK) and made the transition last year to EPIK. 

I had a great experience with the process.  I was hired quickly, and it seems that my experience was a key factor in that decision.  Since I moved to my new school (Middle), I have been asked on several occasions to speak at EPIK events about my teaching experience and give demo classes for new teachers.  It seems that the EPIK coordinators value the experience I bring to the program and school, as do my co-teachers. 

But I also think it also comes down to attitude and personability.  But if, by chance, you are rejected from EPIK... donít worry about it.  There are plenty of other programs in Korea and other nearby countries worth your effort. 

Offline fishead

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Re: IS EPIK STILL WORTH IT-OR IS IT A CRAZY WASTE OF TIME?
« Reply #48 on: January 29, 2019, 08:05:09 AM »
  Recently I read about a guy who had been selected by EPIK under the current criteria. He passed. But when he went to school the coteachers kept comparing him negatively to the charismatic NET who had just left. He had been a total rock star[think of Nick Jonas with muscles]. The new teacher was held up to impossible standards yet kept in the dark about most stuff. So he left after 4 months. EPIK may think its selection criteria are going to prevent problems such as this. But not if the problemm isn't the foreign teacher.
For a moment I thought you were talking about me until I read that the guy left after four months. I stayed the whole contract, though.

This exact same thing happened to me at a hogwan. A day would not go by without hearing" Why can't you be more like Martin". Epik can be a wonderful experience but with a bad co-teacher it can be truly hellish. Unfortunately if you are stuck working with one co-teacher who hates you it can be a nightmare. In that way working multiple schools or with multiple co-teachers you either avoid or eleminate this problem.

Offline hamid62

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Re: IS EPIK STILL WORTH IT-OR IS IT A CRAZY WASTE OF TIME?
« Reply #49 on: January 29, 2019, 08:33:16 AM »
While I do agree there are some elements of discrimination in the EPIK based on age and, letís face it, other factors.  I do not think it is as clearly black and white as some here are painting it. 

I am an example that EPIK does not just hire newbies right out of university.  I am 39 years old, and have been living and working in Korea for over 5 years now.  I was teaching at a government ran training institute for Korean English Teachers (not EPIK) and made the transition last year to EPIK. 

I had a great experience with the process.  I was hired quickly, and it seems that my experience was a key factor in that decision.  Since I moved to my new school (Middle), I have been asked on several occasions to speak at EPIK events about my teaching experience and give demo classes for new teachers.  It seems that the EPIK coordinators value the experience I bring to the program and school, as do my co-teachers. 

But I also think it also comes down to attitude and personability.  But if, by chance, you are rejected from EPIK... donít worry about it.  There are plenty of other programs in Korea and other nearby countries worth your effort.
While I don't disagree that sometimes experience can help you (as it helped me) get in, it can also work against you in some cases. There are very few Level 1 and Level 1+ EPIK teachers and depending on your level of experience they may not be able to place you just because the local Education Office doesn't have the money in their budget. I noticed that there were very few teachers with more than two years of experience in my intake. There were only a handful of government-licensed teachers, and the vast majority of teachers in my intake were in their early to mid-twenties.

I also noticed there are some management issues. When I initially applied back in 2016 for SMOE I got in, and was given the contract to sign. Then a few weeks later I received a letter saying that they had more successful applicants than they anticipated and it would take up to six months to successfully place everyone in Seoul or nearby. I withdrew and applied later asking for Daegu--EPIK put me in Gwangju instead. Another guy in my intake asked for Gwangju and they placed him in Daegu. Meanwhile, they told both of us that there weren't any positions available in the cities we asked for. Having taught every grade level and university classes, I prefer to teach older students and so I asked for middle and high school (yes I'm aware that those positions are scarce but it was worth a shot), and they placed me in elementary. That was fine, but some teachers who specifically asked for elementary (and had little to no experience) were placed in middle and high school. Looking at the ads now, it seems a lot of public schools only want to hire female teachers (whether experienced or not) and pay the lowest salaries possible.

Was the charismatic NET who had just left named Camden?
I'm not sure who it was. But I've heard of several cases where EPIK teachers (and TaLK) scholars cut their contracts short (or simply left without saying anything) over the years.

Offline MayorHaggar

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Re: IS EPIK STILL WORTH IT-OR IS IT A CRAZY WASTE OF TIME?
« Reply #50 on: January 30, 2019, 05:22:49 PM »
  Recently I read about a guy who had been selected by EPIK under the current criteria. He passed. But when he went to school the coteachers kept comparing him negatively to the charismatic NET who had just left. He had been a total rock star[think of Nick Jonas with muscles]. The new teacher was held up to impossible standards yet kept in the dark about most stuff. So he left after 4 months. EPIK may think its selection criteria are going to prevent problems such as this. But not if the problemm isn't the foreign teacher.
For a moment I thought you were talking about me until I read that the guy left after four months. I stayed the whole contract, though.
Was the charismatic NET who had just left named Camden?

Good ol' Camden. I wonder what he's up to now? Probably running a famous charity in Africa, or selflessly operating an orphanage in Uzbekistan. That guy could do anything.
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Offline MayorHaggar

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Re: IS EPIK STILL WORTH IT-OR IS IT A CRAZY WASTE OF TIME?
« Reply #51 on: January 30, 2019, 05:26:20 PM »
While I do agree there are some elements of discrimination in the EPIK based on age and, letís face it, other factors.  I do not think it is as clearly black and white as some here are painting it. 

When I did my EPIK orientation in 2013 I was pretty impressed with the diversity of the new hires. Most of them were in their 20's but plenty were older, and there were a few in their 40's and 50's. Also the racial diversity was pretty impressive by Korean standards.

But 90% of the time an EPIK teacher is still going to be treated like a wacky school mascot rather than as someone who contributes to education.
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Quote from: Mr.DeMartino on Yesterday at 01:40:32 PM

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Offline MayorHaggar

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Re: IS EPIK STILL WORTH IT-OR IS IT A CRAZY WASTE OF TIME?
« Reply #52 on: January 30, 2019, 05:34:34 PM »
Korean staff bitter and checked-out because they didn't get a job in a big city
In public school teachers are rotated every few years.

Doesn't matter, in Korea everything revolves around the cities. Seoul is seen as the center of the universe, and in each province the provincial capital or nearest big city is seen as the center of the universe. Rural Korea is genuinely depressing and has a really low quality of life compared to any average Korean city, as most EPIK NET's can tell you. The Korean teachers don't like teaching in rural areas, most of them live in the nearest big city and commute out because they don't want to live where they teach. I taught at several rural schools and the teachers were all miserable and wanted to get placed in big city jobs. I also taught at a big city school and the teachers were much happier and more content and didn't want to get sent to rural jobs because it was seen as a punishment. I'm not making this up, several Koreans with very good English skills talked to me about this and why they felt this way, and it's a very common sentiment. But I know you guys like to be contrarian and dismiss anything about Korea that isn't directly said by a Korean.
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Quote from: Mr.DeMartino on Yesterday at 01:40:32 PM

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Online pkjh

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Re: IS EPIK STILL WORTH IT-OR IS IT A CRAZY WASTE OF TIME?
« Reply #53 on: January 30, 2019, 09:29:28 PM »
Korean staff bitter and checked-out because they didn't get a job in a big city
In public school teachers are rotated every few years.

Doesn't matter, in Korea everything revolves around the cities. Seoul is seen as the center of the universe, and in each province the provincial capital or nearest big city is seen as the center of the universe. Rural Korea is genuinely depressing and has a really low quality of life compared to any average Korean city, as most EPIK NET's can tell you. The Korean teachers don't like teaching in rural areas, most of them live in the nearest big city and commute out because they don't want to live where they teach. I taught at several rural schools and the teachers were all miserable and wanted to get placed in big city jobs. I also taught at a big city school and the teachers were much happier and more content and didn't want to get sent to rural jobs because it was seen as a punishment. I'm not making this up, several Koreans with very good English skills talked to me about this and why they felt this way, and it's a very common sentiment. But I know you guys like to be contrarian and dismiss anything about Korea that isn't directly said by a Korean.
I've taught many 'rural' schools, and many 'rural' schools are literally mere minutes from a major city. And many of schools are in pretty big 'towns' in that 200,000 - 600,000 range, or more. And I'd say that most actually live in the province they teach in. Granted many do live in the major city close to that province. But I don't think it's most (most being 50%+1). It'd guesstimate a 60/40, where most live in the province, based on informal counting on the bus when we gone end of semester trips. And a lot of teacher do stay close to their hometowns.

Yes, in really rural areas there is a lack of 'volunteers' that want to teach there, but that is offset by the more points, and benefits, you get for working so called 'hardship' posts. Sure, some are unhappy, perhaps you managed to draw the unhappy straw more often that not. You make it sound like every single teacher is unhappy in rural areas. But most of the teachers I've met are content.

Online some waygug-in

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Re: IS EPIK STILL WORTH IT-OR IS IT A CRAZY WASTE OF TIME?
« Reply #54 on: January 30, 2019, 09:50:35 PM »
Is EPIK worth it?  It depends, there are so many factors that can make it a positive or negative experience.

The financial stability (compared to hagwons) is a definite plus, but being treated like a tape recorder and or

a school mascot is not for everyone.

The last school I taught at (rural) would have been a great school and I would have stayed as long as I could have,

except for the fact that the main co-teacher was clueless and working with her was so frustrating that I could not

tolerate another year with her.   Everyone else at the school was fine, the other co-teacher (male) was a joy to

work with and he was disappointed that I was leaving, but he also understood why.

Offline fishead

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Re: IS EPIK STILL WORTH IT-OR IS IT A CRAZY WASTE OF TIME?
« Reply #55 on: February 01, 2019, 08:15:23 AM »
I did two years with EPIK...honestly it is a lot of BS. Schools mainly see you as a mascot to make the school look good. Most of the time it's impossible to teach your kids much because you don't get any useful support from the Korean staff, most of the kids are too low level to learn anything, and the school administrators keep making schizoid management orders like "just let the kids play and have fun" at the same time as "please make the kids study diligently for this standardized test." It's a great way for a teacher to make good money without putting in much effort, but that is about it. It's a massive waste of money. Hagwons provide way more English education than public schools.

I'm sure people will chime in with "well at MY school everything is perfect" comments...and that is the problem. EPIK presents itself as a centralized program where every school is the same and they all have great Korean staff and great students who love English. The reality is that EPIK is a glorified recruiter that stops having anything to do with you when you start work, and every school is completely different. If you're in a big city then yeah your students probably go to hagwons and already know a lot of English by 3rd grade, and the Korean staff is probably young and career-driven. But most EPIK jobs are in rural areas, where most kids don't go to hagwons and the Korean staff is unmotivated.

There are a lot of politically-connected EPIK lifers who spend years in EPIK jobs, they're usually married to Koreans and are friends with the provincial EPIK coordinator. These people think EPIK is the best thing ever and they never get non-renewed, because of their connections. They don't care about teaching, they just care about protecting their jobs.

You can give EPIK a shot if you want but the length of the application process is absurd. Most teachers are happy to work at a hagwon, it's not that much more work, the pay is almost as much, and you're able to choose where you work and live, which means you can probably live in a big city like most people want to. Rural life in Korea is pretty awful and I say that as someone who doesn't really like big cities. After a couple years at a hagwon a lot of teachers will get a job at a non-EPIK local publicly funded program.

Being am EPIK lifer has dangerous consequences that are easy to overlook when you are living in the moment and letting time slide by. Sure it can offer a false sense of security to know that job stability is just a phone call away. No matter how well you play your hand you are not a citizen nor a Unionizes member of the KTU.Those friendly smiling soju swilling ajoshis  will eventually either get transfered or become Vice principals. Which leaves the EPIK lifer to the mercy of recruiters, having to redo the process like a newbie, or even worse a victim of ageism.

Offline hangook77

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Re: IS EPIK STILL WORTH IT-OR IS IT A CRAZY WASTE OF TIME?
« Reply #56 on: February 13, 2019, 09:14:14 AM »
I did two years with EPIK...honestly it is a lot of BS. Schools mainly see you as a mascot to make the school look good. Most of the time it's impossible to teach your kids much because you don't get any useful support from the Korean staff, most of the kids are too low level to learn anything, and the school administrators keep making schizoid management orders like "just let the kids play and have fun" at the same time as "please make the kids study diligently for this standardized test." It's a great way for a teacher to make good money without putting in much effort, but that is about it. It's a massive waste of money. Hagwons provide way more English education than public schools.

I'm sure people will chime in with "well at MY school everything is perfect" comments...and that is the problem. EPIK presents itself as a centralized program where every school is the same and they all have great Korean staff and great students who love English. The reality is that EPIK is a glorified recruiter that stops having anything to do with you when you start work, and every school is completely different. If you're in a big city then yeah your students probably go to hagwons and already know a lot of English by 3rd grade, and the Korean staff is probably young and career-driven. But most EPIK jobs are in rural areas, where most kids don't go to hagwons and the Korean staff is unmotivated.

There are a lot of politically-connected EPIK lifers who spend years in EPIK jobs, they're usually married to Koreans and are friends with the provincial EPIK coordinator. These people think EPIK is the best thing ever and they never get non-renewed, because of their connections. They don't care about teaching, they just care about protecting their jobs.

You can give EPIK a shot if you want but the length of the application process is absurd. Most teachers are happy to work at a hagwon, it's not that much more work, the pay is almost as much, and you're able to choose where you work and live, which means you can probably live in a big city like most people want to. Rural life in Korea is pretty awful and I say that as someone who doesn't really like big cities. After a couple years at a hagwon a lot of teachers will get a job at a non-EPIK local publicly funded program.

Being am EPIK lifer has dangerous consequences that are easy to overlook when you are living in the moment and letting time slide by. Sure it can offer a false sense of security to know that job stability is just a phone call away. No matter how well you play your hand you are not a citizen nor a Unionizes member of the KTU.  Those friendly smiling soju swilling ajoshis  will eventually either get transferred or become Vice principals. Which leaves the EPIK lifer to the mercy of recruiters, having to redo the process like a newbie, or even worse a victim of ageism.

True and even if you get to the top semi rural area salary, 3 million a month or so, the living costs are going up steeply.  Soon, even that won't be enough.  I've been here longer than I would have thought.  Went through a huge debt crisis during the Great Recession, falling exchange rates, etc.  So, had to buckle down and pay.  Anyways, even with the record of living here, I know I will have to get out. 

Offline kyndo

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Re: IS EPIK STILL WORTH IT-OR IS IT A CRAZY WASTE OF TIME?
« Reply #57 on: February 13, 2019, 07:45:26 PM »
True and even if you get to the top semi rural area salary, 3 million a month or so, the living costs are going up steeply.  Soon, even that won't be enough.  I've been here longer than I would have thought.  Went through a huge debt crisis during the Great Recession, falling exchange rates, etc.  So, had to buckle down and pay.  Anyways, even with the record of living here, I know I will have to get out.

   I'm not sure I agree.
   My SO and I are able to live off just the one salary, putting the other directly into savings. Granted we both make a fair bit more than the average first year NET, have no student loans, lack crippling drug addictions, etc. On the other hand, we *do* have a decent apartment, a car, travel, go out fairly often etc etc.

   I think a big part of this is location, location, location: I definitely I wouldn't be able to live my super awesome high-rollin' lifestyle if I lived in Seoul or Busan given the stupid-high cost of living there.  :undecided:

Offline debbiem89

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Re: IS EPIK STILL WORTH IT-OR IS IT A CRAZY WASTE OF TIME?
« Reply #58 on: February 14, 2019, 10:09:58 AM »
I teach in a rural area and the Korean teachers love it.

They can only work in my school 3 years max...but they've told me it's a really popular posting. Apparently it's a good school to work at if you're a new/younger teacher as it grants good opportunities for career progression etc.

They like working here...LIVING here is another story....they basically all commute from Ulsan or Busan.


I mean EPIK to me is worth it. Obviously if you're looking for a job that's challenging and gives you a lot of job satisfaction....you're probably barking up the wrong tree. EPIK teaching is an easy gig, the pay is decent and you have enough free time to work on other things. The vacation is decent and you can do some travelling.

Short term it's definitely worth it IMHO....certainly not a long term thing for me though.

On the subject of Hagwons...not worth it. I like my vacation time WAY too much and the pressure from directors and parents is just BS. I don't care to be stressed to death when I'm totally disposable to them anyway.

Offline alexisalex

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Re: IS EPIK STILL WORTH IT-OR IS IT A CRAZY WASTE OF TIME?
« Reply #59 on: February 14, 2019, 10:29:54 AM »
Yes I agree with debbiem89.  It's impossible to have any job satisfaction when you haven't taught a class for two months and have just been sitting at your desk.

My problem is that I don't know how to fill all the free time I have and that bothers me a lot.