What You'll Need
Letters of Recommendation
Before I begin, here is a direct link to EPIK's website.
This application includes the components listed above. As it's the very, very first thing EPIK coordinators will see of you--your ticket to an interview!--you'll want to be as thorough as possible in filling it out. The first six pages or so are house-keeping: educational background, work-experience, and the whole shebang. Keep format in mind as you run through the details.
I know most people are worried about their lesson plans and essays most of all, so I'll begin with those. As an update to my own EPIK process, I'd been invited to and passed the interview stage! Expect a post about that interview prep/experience as well as general feelings and emotions going forward. (Sneak-peak, I'm screaming.) Finally, to be transparent, I'd received feedback on my lesson plan due to its better application as a high-school lesson, so I'll tackle that further down as well.
Either way, this is what I did to get a positive result, and while I can't guarantee anything, I can share a little (or a lot) about what the initial application had been like for me...
The Lesson Plan
So it's pretty important to note that most all secondary positions in EPIK have disappeared. As a result, you'll want your lesson plan to reflect the most-likely age group you'll receive: Elementary/Primary. This is where I was nipped in the butt. My coordinator told me I created an amazing and thorough lesson plan....but it was too high school. Admittedly I'd modified a lesson from my adult learners into my EPIK app, so that really was no surprise. Either way, you'll want to focus on Elementary Education. I know most EPIK applicants are going through TEFL certification, as it's become a requirement, but hell--why not talk pedagogy for a bit? Some of you may not have started and could do for a cram-session...
Here are a few take-aways from an Educational Psychology class taken during my master's in teaching:
When it comes to ESL/EFL there are three common lesson structures. PPP, Text-based, and Test-Teach-Test. For Fall 2018 applications, EPIK asked for a PPP lesson so I'll jump straight into it.
PPP stands for Present, Practice, Produce, and the lesson flows as you'd expect.
Now let's break down the sections of your lesson plan.
There you go! A few last tips:
The personal essays haven't necessarily changed from year to year, but their format has. In previous years they'd been asked as a single, long essay. More recently, they've been broken into short-responses of about 300 words each:
(In addition to the content of your responses, make sure your grammar and spelling are on point. After all, you're applying to be an English teacher.)
Remember, these essays are your opportunity to showcase who you are and set you apart from other applicants! Be authentic and, instead of considering all this writing as an annoying task to tick off, really give the questions some serious thought.
Why teaching EFL/Why Teaching in Korea
It sucks, but I have more 'don'ts' than anything: Don't talk about saving money/financial matters. Don't talk about how much you want to be in Korea to travel. Don't only focus on kpop (or kdrama. or your favorite korean celebrity. or...) While it's okay for you to enjoy these aspects of Korean pop culture, or for these things to have influenced your decision, they shouldn't be your main reason for moving across the world to start a new career. At best, you look naive. At worst, you look like you don't care about teaching--you know, your anticipated job.
Think about this:
Your Teaching Philosophy
This is where it'd be useful to use a few terms from your TEFL class or teaching degree. Most everyone who's gone through a teaching certification course has had to draft up a teaching philosophy paper before. For those of you who've yet to take your course...
Think of the teacher you want to be. Think of the teacher who's most inspired you. What aspect of their teaching style most appealed to you? Was it their empathy? Their use of realistic activities and assignments?
Here would be a great place to focus on key-terms like "student-centered," "authentic tasks," "learning strategies," and "classroom environment." This last one is the easiest to incorporate if you haven't yet taken your TEFL. Long story short: Just talk about the vibe you'd like your classroom to have. (though don't use the word vibe)
With this final short-response you can now use the word the "travel" that'd I'd banned you from touching in why EFL/why Korea. Feel free to reference personal experience. Something important to note is in acknowledging that culture shock exists, but in also acknowledging opportunity.
Your Professional Photo
You can go one of two routes here. Pay a bunch of money and get some seriously high quality photos that could be used as a stock image on google--or pay a small sum of pocket change to get a nice photo that'll do the trick. (Well..there is a third route which is to not care and send a selfie or something, but I don't recommend that.)
Plan an hour or so to get your hair tidy, dress professionally, and have a friend snap a few photos of you against a plain background. You can touch up using photo-editing software, though I would suggest only adjusting for light. This isn't Instagram. Once satisfied, head on over to http://www.epassportphoto.com/ and select "South Korea" from the drop-down in order to adjust for their regulated size (4.5x3.5 cm). Order your prints then either pick up or have them delivered.
You can digitally attach your photo to your initial application but will need hard copies to attach later. Schools are going to see these photos so make sure you're happy with them! Additionally, you'll need these photos for your VISA application. I'd say order around 6 copies or so.
Letters of Recommendation
EPIK is very particular about the format for these letters of recommendation and you'll need two so start thinking of professors and previous direct supervisors! These letters must...
This signature must be in ink. You will attach a PDF version of your letters of recommendation to your initial application and, once given the green-light by your coordinator, will mail the original copies along with all other documents. Finally, if your referee cannot use official letterhead then a business card must be sent as proof of company/relationship to the referred.
Whew! Alright I think I've said it all. If anyone's got questions please feel free to leave a comment or send a message. Also, remember that this was simply what I'd done. Your application may and likely will look different! If I'm being honest, the best preparation had been reading multiple perspectives from previous applicants and even from recruiter resources. So? Google Google Google!
With that said--good luck!
Pedagogy and Reflection
We do not learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience