What is the Jeollanamdo Language Program (JLP)?

Posted in: ASIA, SOUTH KOREA, TEACHING ESL | 6

EPIK. SMO. GEPIK. Hagwon. JLP. Feeling confused yet? Don’t worry, we were too! It seems that the names and acronyms are endless when looking into various teaching jobs in Korea. When we first started looking into teaching in Korea we had no idea there would be so many job options out there, all with their very own set of pros and cons. After hours and hours of agonizing over these, we finally settled on teaching through the Jeollanamdo Language Program (JLP). We had never heard of it until we applied, so here’s hoping that this blog post will be useful to other newbies like our not so distant past selves.


Public Schools vs. Hagwons

If you’re new to the world of ESL in Korea, let us quickly explain the difference between public schools (i.e. EPIK, GEPIK, JLP, etc.) and hagwons (private academies). If you aren’t new to the job search, skip this section and head staright to the good stuff about JLP.

Public schools: By working at a public school you are essentially considered to be a public servant since you will be working for the office of education. This means that the schools you work at will be government-funded, with elementary, middle and high schools. You’ll be working 9-5, have lots of vacation time and a stable position.

Hagwons: These institutions are privately funded and run like businesses. Students attend hagwons in addition to their regular schools (i.e. public schools), meaning you will likely be required to work before/after regular school hours. Hagwons also tend to offer much less job security since they may shut down at any time (such is the qualm of working for a private company).


Jeollanamdo Language Program (JLP)

Much like EPIK/GEPIK/SMO, JLP is a government-run recruitment program for native English teachers in elementary, middle and high schools. JLP is run by the Jeollanamdo Office of Education which means that it only recruits teachers for schools in this province (note that Gwangju is not included). Unfortunately, JLP does not have a website like EPIK where applicants can directly apply to the program (as far as we know). We applied through our amazing recruiter, Canadian Connection and would highly recommend them to others. If you’d like more information about choosing a recruiter, check out this post.

Jeollanamdo Language Program
This is where Katherine teaches!
The Perks of JLP

As we’ve mentioned before, working for a public school in Korea is (in our opinion) the best option. Here’s why:

  • great colleagues and good working environment
  • orientation week to help you prepare for your new job (and make a ton of new friends!)
  • a return airfare stipend of 1.3 million won (each way)
  • 300,000 won settlement allowance
  • free housing (we have a 2 bedroom apartment with a balcony!)
  • 50% health insurance coverage plan
  • one month salary bonus upon completion of your contract
  • a pension you can bring back to Canada
  • 4 weeks of vacation + national holidays

JLP vs. EPIK

Since we didn’t know anything about JLP at first, we were extremely tempted to forgo applying to it and simply sticking with EPIK. We’re so glad we didn’t do that!! Though both programs are quite similar and have many of the same perks (i.e. airfare stipend, housing, salary, pension, health insurance, etc.), EPIK did not offer one key thing for us: a guarantee to be placed in the same city. The thing with EPIK that we absolutely could not get behind was the fact that teachers have absolutely no idea where they will be placed until after orientation. On top of that, unmarried couples have no guarantee that they will be placed in the same city and have no chance of living together. Since we already lived together in Canada, this was a huge deal breaker for us. Plus our inner control freaks hated the idea of not knowing where we would be living until the very last minute.

Another aspect that made our decision to go with JLP just that much easier was the fact that EPIK only offers teachers 3 weeks of vacation, whereas JLP offers 4 weeks.


The Downsides of JLP

We’ve been working as English teachers with JLP for about 3 months now and have very few complaints. That being said, every great thing does have a few downsides:

  • JLP placements tend to be in rural locations, though the degree of how rural will depend. We got lucky and live only 30 minutes (by bus) away from Gwangju (Korea’s 6th largest city). That said, some of our friends did not get so lucky and live on small islands off of Korea’s southern coast. JLP does give teachers in extremely rural areas extra pay every month to make up for it though!
  • Teachers may be required to teach at multiple schools. Again, this will depend on your situation. Katherine teaches at one very large middle school, whereas Jordon teaches at 2 small schools. However, JLP once again makes up for it by offering teachers who teach at multiple schools an extra bonus every month.
  • Since you will likely be teaching in a rural area, your student’s (and even co-teacher’s) English level will likely be quite low. We were quite lucky that this wasn’t the case for us but many of our friends have had a lot of miscommunications with their colleagues due to language barriers.

There you have it – a basic overview of JLP! If you have any questions that we haven’t answered in our posts about teaching in Korea please feel free to contact us and we’ll do our best to answer.

Have you ever taught English abroad?

What did you think of your experience?


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Jeollanamdo Language Program


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Hi, we’re Jordon and Katherine, founders of travel and lifestyle blog World Abound. We’re a working couple who hope to be able to say one day that we’ve travelled the world together, even while still working our 9-5 jobs.

6 Responses

  1. Jackie

    Public school vs hagwon? Public school all the way! Sure, it can be annoying dealing with co-teachers, etc. but you’ll get way more vacation time and also not have to worry about getting ripped off.

    • World Abound

      Totally agree Jackie 🙂 We have absolutely loved our experience with the public school system, plus if you get lucky with a great co-teacher it can really enrich your experience in Korea.

  2. Emilee

    Is there a way people from America can apply through a recruiter? Or does your recruiter work with people outside of Canada too?

    • World Abound

      Hi Emilee! As far as we know Americans can also apply through the recruiter we used (Canadian Connections). We had a fantastic experience with them and are one of only two recruiters that recruit for JLP. Please feel free to email us if you have any other questions about teaching in Korea 🙂

  3. Griffith Hawkins

    I just stumbled upon this blog and really enjoyed reading it! It’s very informative. I actually taught through JLP in 2012/13 and my girlfriend and I are considering teaching English in Korea or Japan. After doing tons of research on the various language programs, such as EPIK and JET in Japan, I’ve started to consider JLP again. What I read with EPIK and JET is officially they will make every effort to place MARRIED couples together, and they pretty much never place unmarried couples together. From what I have surmised by reading your blog, it sounds like you guys had no problem getting placed in accommodations together?

    • World Abound

      Hey Griffith!

      Thanks for your comment and for checking out our blog. One of the main reasons we didn’t choose EPIK was because, as you mentioned, they only try to place married couples together. Since we are not married but lived together back in Canada, we were really set on living together in Korea as well or at the very least being in the same city. Fortunately, JLP does take requests from unmarried couples quite seriously and we had no issues being placed in the same city and even luckily were able to get a shared apartment (although this is not very common for unmarried couples). From what we’ve seen here, married couples are pretty much guaranteed to have a shared apartment, while unmarried couples will be in the same city but be given 2 separate apartments (most people tend to just live in 1 of them and use the other for guests). We would just recommend firmly stating to your recruiter that you would really like to be placed together and you shouldn’t have any issues 🙂

      Hope that answers your question!

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