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  • tsacelbuod
  • Adventurer

    • 48

    • April 20, 2012, 09:09:48 am
    • South Korea
Thinking about going from EPIK... to TALK??
« on: August 24, 2014, 06:26:20 pm »
So I'm in the middle of my 3rd year of teaching in the EPIK program. After my contract is over, I'm thinking about switching over to TALK. I can't be the first one to think of doing this... am I? Has anybody actually done this? I wouldn't be surprised if people have gone from TALK to EPIK, but going backwards might be a rarity.

Also, if you've taught in the TALK program, any stories you have are welcomed. This is a serious consideration of mine, and it would be nice if you could share your experiences with me.


  • waygo0k
  • The Legend

    • 4118

    • September 27, 2011, 11:51:01 am
    • Chungnam
Re: Thinking about going from EPIK... to TALK??
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2014, 06:39:56 pm »
Lots of people have done it.

I don't really know why it would be seen as "going backwards". You only teach 15hrs a week with no desk-warming, plus the same benefits as EPIK as well as $300 to spend on "cultural" trips. You don't pay for insurance etc.

You're already settled in Korea so you could use those extra hours to supplement your income nicely. I know a fellow 3yrs back that did exactly that and pulled in 3.4 per month tax free.....never taught more than 27-28hrs a week.

The only downers are that you don't get severance, and you will most probably be in the boonies (if you're a city person).


  • tsacelbuod
  • Adventurer

    • 48

    • April 20, 2012, 09:09:48 am
    • South Korea
Re: Thinking about going from EPIK... to TALK??
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2014, 08:14:28 pm »
Don't take 'going backwards' as disrespect waygo0k. It seems logical to develop experience in TALK, and then move on to more teaching duties with EPIK. I'm pretty sure that's the route many people have taken. 'Going backwards' / putting your car in reverse / moving from one job to another that demands less in terms of qualifications... that's what I meant when talking about what I want to do.

You've pretty much covered why I wanna make this move. Less teaching hours a week = more time to myself. I've scored some major experience points by teaching at 3 different schools, which I think would make me a great candidate. I can live a healthy life off the salary that I earn, and it sounds like I will be happier with TALK as opposed to EPIK.

Thanks for chiming in. I appreciate it.


  • nimrand
  • Super Waygook

    • 489

    • April 07, 2013, 07:40:28 am
    • Lawrence, KS
Re: Thinking about going from EPIK... to TALK??
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2014, 08:37:30 pm »
For what it's worth, I've considered doing the same.  So, reading waygook's response was quite helpful.


  • Tulfl2000
  • Adventurer

    • 38

    • March 04, 2013, 02:13:01 pm
    • Bonggok-dong, Gumi, South Korea
Re: Thinking about going from EPIK... to TALK??
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2014, 08:00:55 am »
I've thought about this too.  My only worry is that because I'm not going back to school (I'm working on other things in my spare time) and because I will be 27 when I apply, they might pass me over.  I think they have an age cutoff if I'm correct.

Or I might just be paranoid.


  • Ley_Druid
  • The Legend

    • 2468

    • February 17, 2011, 08:36:33 am
    • Shinan-Gun, Jeollanam-Do, South Korea
Re: Thinking about going from EPIK... to TALK??
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2014, 08:20:42 am »
OP, correct me if I am wrong, but you have to be signed up for a university or college program to join TaLK, no? That is what I was told in 2009 when I first applied to jobs in Korea, but thankfully at that time, I was able to get into regular GEPIK without a degree. Back then we only needed two years, but the pay was similar to TaLK, at 1,600,000won per month. But it was full-time.

Anyways, I am curious what you decide upon. TaLK is good if you get into a grad program, so I have been told.


  • tsacelbuod
  • Adventurer

    • 48

    • April 20, 2012, 09:09:48 am
    • South Korea
Re: Thinking about going from EPIK... to TALK??
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2014, 08:48:25 am »
OP, correct me if I am wrong, but you have to be signed up for a university or college program to join TaLK, no?

Excellent question Ley_Druid. I was skeptical about my eligibility as well because I am finished with college. Hell, I'm finished with grad school. However, if you scroll down on TALK's eligibility page, it says...

'1. Recent graduates and graduate students are also eligible to apply.'

If you would like to check out the details, the hyper link is here: http://www.talk.go.kr/talk/talk_new/content/content.jsp?menuId=010301

The major problem I will encounter is my status as a 'recent graduate'. I graduated from my grad program about 3 years ago, and I'm not sure if that is going to qualify as recent. I think I'm overqualified for this position, and that is going to hurt me big time.

It's all good though... still gotta give it a shot! I won't know anything unless I try!
« Last Edit: August 25, 2014, 08:56:32 am by tsacelbuod »


  • nimrand
  • Super Waygook

    • 489

    • April 07, 2013, 07:40:28 am
    • Lawrence, KS
Re: Thinking about going from EPIK... to TALK??
« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2014, 09:01:06 am »
From their FAQ:

"Is there an age limit?
Teach and Learn in Korea Frequently Asked Questions
The TaLK Program seeks adaptable and open-minded individuals of all ages to teach English in the rural areas of Korea. As a scholarship program, however, the majority of accepted TaLK participants are students and recent graduates of accredited universities or colleges with a background in education, English or Korean studies. It is uncommon for applicants over the age of 55 to be accepted into TaLK; usually, applicants over the age of 35 are encouraged to join TaLK’s sister program, EPIK (English Program in Korea), which provides a lifestyle that is more compatible with applicants seeking professional opportunities in the teaching field."

So, sounds pretty doable as long as you're still in your 20s/30s and maybe even 40s.


  • tsacelbuod
  • Adventurer

    • 48

    • April 20, 2012, 09:09:48 am
    • South Korea
Re: Thinking about going from EPIK... to TALK??
« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2014, 09:05:50 am »
From their FAQ:

"Is there an age limit?
Teach and Learn in Korea Frequently Asked Questions
The TaLK Program seeks adaptable and open-minded individuals of all ages to teach English in the rural areas of Korea. As a scholarship program, however, the majority of accepted TaLK participants are students and recent graduates of accredited universities or colleges with a background in education, English or Korean studies. It is uncommon for applicants over the age of 55 to be accepted into TaLK; usually, applicants over the age of 35 are encouraged to join TaLK’s sister program, EPIK (English Program in Korea), which provides a lifestyle that is more compatible with applicants seeking professional opportunities in the teaching field."

So, sounds pretty doable as long as you're still in your 20s/30s and maybe even 40s.

Nice find nimrand!


  • Tulfl2000
  • Adventurer

    • 38

    • March 04, 2013, 02:13:01 pm
    • Bonggok-dong, Gumi, South Korea
Re: Thinking about going from EPIK... to TALK??
« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2014, 09:26:20 am »
From their FAQ:

"Is there an age limit?
Teach and Learn in Korea Frequently Asked Questions
The TaLK Program seeks adaptable and open-minded individuals of all ages to teach English in the rural areas of Korea. As a scholarship program, however, the majority of accepted TaLK participants are students and recent graduates of accredited universities or colleges with a background in education, English or Korean studies. It is uncommon for applicants over the age of 55 to be accepted into TaLK; usually, applicants over the age of 35 are encouraged to join TaLK’s sister program, EPIK (English Program in Korea), which provides a lifestyle that is more compatible with applicants seeking professional opportunities in the teaching field."

So, sounds pretty doable as long as you're still in your 20s/30s and maybe even 40s.

Thanks for the research Nimrand.  I knew I read it somewhere.  Hmmmm, I might have a problem since I'm a psych major.


Re: Thinking about going from EPIK... to TALK??
« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2014, 10:07:38 am »
I was also considering doing the same thing until several of my friends told me they were no longer able to teach under TALK in their areas because they were getting rid of it where they were.

I have decided to just study Korean language next year instead after finishing my online Master's degree.
"To fall in love with God is the greatest of all romances; to seek him, the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement."

- Raphael Simon


  • writerly
  • Adventurer

    • 62

    • June 21, 2011, 12:35:07 am
    • Canada
Re: Thinking about going from EPIK... to TALK??
« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2014, 11:16:04 am »
There's a TALK teacher at my second school who worked at a hagwon the year before. I can't speak to her experience, but from what she's told me, she's quite unhappy with the change, mostly being located in a rural area when she was living in a big city before. Otherwise it seems fine. She teaches every afternoon in the after school program and (unlike me with EPIK) she has to create a lesson plan for each class and there's a lot more paperwork in general. She has open classes like us. She had a month of training before starting TALK and didn't find it that useful beyond making friends. I envy her the training and cultural events she gets to go to, though!

If you can swing it on 1.5 mil, are okay with living in a rural area with few foreigners and little English, and want the extra down time, the TALK program sounds great. I'm not sure about the school requirement. She's finished her undergrad but is going back home this year to go to graduate school. Maybe as long as you say you're planning to go back, you're fine.

Oh, you can do 6 month contracts with TALK, btw. She regretted signing on for a year. The 6-month one may be the way to go, and then you can renew for up to two years.


  • tsacelbuod
  • Adventurer

    • 48

    • April 20, 2012, 09:09:48 am
    • South Korea
Re: Thinking about going from EPIK... to TALK??
« Reply #12 on: August 26, 2014, 11:44:55 am »
There's a TALK teacher at my second school who worked at a hagwon the year before. I can't speak to her experience, but from what she's told me, she's quite unhappy with the change, mostly being located in a rural area when she was living in a big city before. Otherwise it seems fine. She teaches every afternoon in the after school program and (unlike me with EPIK) she has to create a lesson plan for each class and there's a lot more paperwork in general. She has open classes like us. She had a month of training before starting TALK and didn't find it that useful beyond making friends. I envy her the training and cultural events she gets to go to, though!

Thanks for chiming in writerly. I definitely appreciate the detail. It really does suck that she has to create a lesson plan for each class / deal with a lot of paperwork in general. I actually think that is a HUGE turn off. I'm in the EPIK program too, and I guess I got lucky with regard to paperwork in the last two years. When I did do paperwork, it wasn't fun at all. I'll take what you've said into consideration.


  • Korea13
  • Super Waygook

    • 494

    • May 29, 2013, 08:36:18 am
    • korea
Re: Thinking about going from EPIK... to TALK??
« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2014, 12:05:38 pm »
There's a TALK teacher at my second school who worked at a hagwon the year before. I can't speak to her experience, but from what she's told me, she's quite unhappy with the change, mostly being located in a rural area when she was living in a big city before. Otherwise it seems fine. She teaches every afternoon in the after school program and (unlike me with EPIK) she has to create a lesson plan for each class and there's a lot more paperwork in general. She has open classes like us. She had a month of training before starting TALK and didn't find it that useful beyond making friends. I envy her the training and cultural events she gets to go to, though!

Thanks for chiming in writerly. I definitely appreciate the detail. It really does suck that she has to create a lesson plan for each class / deal with a lot of paperwork in general. I actually think that is a HUGE turn off. I'm in the EPIK program too, and I guess I got lucky with regard to paperwork in the last two years. When I did do paperwork, it wasn't fun at all. I'll take what you've said into consideration.


Your experiences with TaLK with be different from school to school just like any other program. I think the TaLK program is a great program if your main reason is not money. Less teaching hours (15hrs a week) plus you do not have to spent the whole day at the school. Lots of time to relax, pick up a hobbies (morning korean class, taekwondo, dance etc.)

They also give you Cultural money per semester (200 to 400 thousands won). Flight is 1.3 exit plus housing. You also get to go on different cultural trip twice a year.

Overall, the downside of TaLK is rural area and less pay.

Oh and the lesson plan is not that difficult. You can make one lesson and teach it to the whole students in different level. Just change the vocabulary/key expression to fit your students.

Former TaLK scholar here. Plus the supported from the LOE, MOE and  Seoul TaLK office is awesome.


Re: Thinking about going from EPIK... to TALK??
« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2014, 12:35:00 pm »
How much (or how little) responsibility you have as a TaLK scholar definitely depends on WHERE you teach.  As annoying as I used to find it when they say it at orientation over and over, 'It really depends on your school' can really be the biggest plus or drawback to your time as a TaLK scholar.  For example, while I'm not required to turn in my lesson plans at all, another scholar in my town has to turn in all of his at the end of the semester for review.  While I receive 600,000 won for cultural trips and my school bought me entirely new things for my apartment, in a province near mine they receieved nothing new for their apartments and less than 200,000 won in cultural money to spend.  Also, how heavily dictated HOW you spend your cultural money also depends on your school.  Some could careless what you spend it on, others make you jump through hoops for every single won of it.  Though I DO only work 15 hours per week, there are plenty of scholars who are  asked (though really they were told) that they'll be working overtime.  And though they do get paid for it, if your main point was free time...not everyone gets the same amount of it.  Kinda like how I know someone who has their 15 hours crammed into 3 days during the week (with Friday and Monday off...lucky dog) while some of us work 5 days per week (with only a class or 2 on one of the days).  Which probably doesn't seem like a big deal, but, especially if you live in one of the cities, commuting for like 2+ hours (1+ hour one way....1+ hour back) to teach ONE 40 minute class...ehhhhhh.  The law of the land in TaLK is 'it depends'.

All of that said, I work at ONE school where none of my classes start before 2 pm and don't envy the EPIK teachers in my town at all as they run from school to school all day.


  • Yaya
  • Featured Contributor

    • 921

    • May 08, 2014, 01:25:18 pm
Re: Thinking about going from EPIK... to TALK??
« Reply #15 on: August 26, 2014, 12:45:13 pm »
The whole rural aspect is not always a bad thing. I'm an EPIK teacher who was placed in a rural area (an island to be exact) and as you can imagine there are some TaLKs here too! I think there are about 7 of them on this island (and they all live in the same building!) and there are about 2 hagwon teachers and about 7 EPIK teachers! That is quite a few teachers considering that it is an island! You'll find that when you live in a rural area, like mine, that the teachers are actually closer than those living in the cities (both location and relationship-wise). So if 'rural' seems like a boring and lonely place to be, it can actually be just the opposite! I can't say this is true for all rural areas, but it certainly is where I am!


  • tsacelbuod
  • Adventurer

    • 48

    • April 20, 2012, 09:09:48 am
    • South Korea
Re: Thinking about going from EPIK... to TALK??
« Reply #16 on: August 26, 2014, 12:47:15 pm »
So, basically, from Korea13 and brobi018's posts, I've gathered that ultimately TALK isn't so different from EPIK with regard to...

the metaphor of being dealt a poker hand. You either get a really good draw, or a really, really crappy one.

I was hoping that TALK would be a little more consistent than EPIK is. However, it sounds like a luck of the draw thing all over again. Sure that luck can be manipulated, but I'm a little disappointed with what I've read.

Thanks for the heads up and giving me the real story! Inconsistency really is the theme here. You either luck out, or you don't! What else is new??
« Last Edit: August 26, 2014, 12:49:25 pm by tsacelbuod »


Re: Thinking about going from EPIK... to TALK??
« Reply #17 on: August 26, 2014, 12:58:44 pm »
Also, to the person that said you can do 6 months....yes and no.

You will be HEAVILY discouraged from doing the 6 month contract during the interview phase, usually until they just flat out say, "Are you SURE you don't want to change it to a year?"  We were told the reason for that is that more and more schools just don't want to deal with 6 monthers anymore.  Which, tbh, it's kinda understandable.  You spend 1 month in training, which off the top only leaves 5 months of teaching left.  And then depending on your school's camp schedule and such...even less time.  They just don't really want to invest resources or time into you...so, from friends, as I've heard it, they aren't treated nearly as well by their schools as people who sign on for a year -- you're just someone they put up with for 6 months until a year scholar signs on.  Which, naturally, means that there are only limited spots for 6 months and they're highly competitive -- typicaly going to MOU scholars first (basically, education students from schools TaLK has an agreement with) who absolutely can't because of credit hours spend more then 6 months doing the program.  I think this intake there was only space for like 12 extra 6 monthers outside of MOU schools....so when you think about the 100s of people applying for those spots...you get the idea.


  • writerly
  • Adventurer

    • 62

    • June 21, 2011, 12:35:07 am
    • Canada
Re: Thinking about going from EPIK... to TALK??
« Reply #18 on: August 27, 2014, 01:49:27 pm »
Also, to the person that said you can do 6 months....yes and no.

You will be HEAVILY discouraged from doing the 6 month contract during the interview phase, usually until they just flat out say, "Are you SURE you don't want to change it to a year?"  We were told the reason for that is that more and more schools just don't want to deal with 6 monthers anymore.  Which, tbh, it's kinda understandable.  You spend 1 month in training, which off the top only leaves 5 months of teaching left.  And then depending on your school's camp schedule and such...even less time.  They just don't really want to invest resources or time into you...so, from friends, as I've heard it, they aren't treated nearly as well by their schools as people who sign on for a year -- you're just someone they put up with for 6 months until a year scholar signs on.  Which, naturally, means that there are only limited spots for 6 months and they're highly competitive -- typicaly going to MOU scholars first (basically, education students from schools TaLK has an agreement with) who absolutely can't because of credit hours spend more then 6 months doing the program.  I think this intake there was only space for like 12 extra 6 monthers outside of MOU schools....so when you think about the 100s of people applying for those spots...you get the idea.

Thank you for the information! I was just relaying what my co-worker, a TaLK teacher, had told me. I know she regretted signing on for a year (it sounds like she was pressured too - she didn't know that 6 months was an option). She said she wished she'd only committed to 6 months, but you make great points about how that's probably not feasible anymore.