I stumbled upon your group from Facebook and while the information you have compiled on there is great, I do have a couple specific questions. First, while I was in college I received a DUI. Do you know if this would lessen my chances of being able to obtain an E-2 Visa? Also if you know of a good recruiting agency in America you could point me in the direction of that would be awesome. Thanks for all the information.
*** Update 6/03/2009: Seoul Immigration will not allow you to teach with a DUI, but there are options.
I try to keep the facebook group pretty well organized and manageable. Still, it is a forum and some questions sneak by me or some of the other 6,000 members. From my experience on the site, participation depends on the month (March and September are the busiest since that's when a lot of teachers arrive), but the depth and complexity of the questions are really the biggest reasons why some questions go unanswered. There seems to be a certain level of resentment or condescension directed at new or potential ESL teachers who ask specific questions. Perhaps it's that some people came to Korea with little or no information (like I did) and believe that that's the best way to do it. Of course, once you arrive in Korea, that dismissive attitude is not at all common, but it certainly exists in cyberspace. That's why I started this blog. I want to help people with the specifics. The assumption is that if one person has a specific question, someone else will also have the same question.
As I stated before, immigration laws are not uniformly applied, but I do know that a DUI (unless it carries some aggravating charges i.e., assault, weapons or drugs along with it) does not eliminate you from getting an E-2 visa. So, as long as it was an isolated incident, you'll have no problem at all.
As for good recruiting agencies, I think you should be focusing on what questions you might want to ask. If I may, I would suggest two recruiters whom I know have the best interest of the teachers in mind. If you prefer a Western recruiter then I would suggest Jason Creswell's recruiting agency. He's been in Korea for ages and has always been very up front and honest with all his teachers. He's also on facebook if you want to get in touch with him that way. Click here for his promo video. The other is Kay Cho from ENW Recruiting. You can email her at email@example.com. She's also on facebook and one of the few recruiters I allow to post on my site.
So, in the meantime, you should think about where you want to live. Do you want a city or the country? What age students do you want to teach? How about salary? These are the items you need to cross off your list before getting too involved with a recruiter. There's an easy formula to have a successful first year in Korea.
1) Think about the experience you want to have in Korea. Do you want a fast-paced life or one of a bit more leisure?
2) Contact several recruiters and compare their offers and presentations.
3) Frequent forums and talk to seasoned teachers.
4) Narrow down your choices as you talk to current and former teachers at your prospective school.
5) And this is an important one: Don't settle for anything. Make it work for you. There are enough gigs out there to where you should have no problem finding the perfect one.
If anybody has any questions, just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment